Lifelong explorer and perennial patient favoriteOutdoors Across the U.S., Taking (Lots of) Time Off, Travel = No More Hospital Politics, Traveling With Pets California
Aya travel nurse Joan has a practical, yet poetic way of looking at life that can’t help but inspire. Her motto? “You have to travel as much as you can while you can still carry your suitcase.”
With a chuckle, Joan says she would rather not admit how long she’s been in the biz, so let’s just say she’s been a nurse longer than many of her coworkers have been alive. After graduating at 18 she immediately left her native Philippines for the Bronx. Hesitating at the understatement she concedes, “thaaaat was… different” and asserts “But life shouldn’t be lived in one place.” After many years as a staff nurse in New York Joan got tired of the routine, the staff meetings, and all the other mandatory obligations. She began travel nursing eight years ago and has never looked back. Literally. She’s not once returned to the location of a previous assignment.
Because she has seen so much of the country as a travel nurse, it means a lot when she says her current assignment in Mariposa, California is her favorite. She was offered all six of the last round of jobs she applied for but chose Mariposa for the “location, location, location.” It’s an easy drive to the glorious waterfalls and epic hikes in Yosemite National Park, plus it reminds her of home. For that same reason, she is fond of all mountainous terrain, so Wyoming is another favorite on her long list of assignment locations. But nothing tops the relaxing hot springs she visited in Thermopolis and the “heaven” of Big Sky Country.
It’s more than just gorgeous vistas and wild regions that capture Joan’s heart though. To truly love this job Joan believes “One has to love patients. Part of being a travel nurse is getting experience with people, not only with places.” Joan definitely has that experience and tends to attract utter devotion in her patients. After several years of invitations, next month Joan and her “baby,” a bichon/poodle named Bella, are finally going to lend a hand on a former patient’s ranch. Joan can’t wait to see what it’s like to live in the woods and work with animals. Not only will she get to play cowgirl but she may also put her formidable nursing skills to the test. When the cows give birth, Joan will be in charge and the ranchers have promised to name one of the gangly, impossibly long eye-lashed calves after her.
The anticipation of these revelatory experiences is what keeps Joan going. It is impossible to summarize the wisdom she has gained during her years on the road, but if we must, it’s best to use her own words. “I found myself in traveling,” she says. “It made me whole. I am richer with adventure. It’s a wealth that nobody can ever take away from me. I’m just happy.”