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Meet Michelle: Self-proclaimed “mama bird” travel RN lives both country and city life to the fullest

Bringing Along Family/Friends/Partners, Outdoors Across the U.S., Taking (Lots of) Time Off, Travel Nurse Pay Indiana

Aya travel nurse Michelle’s nickname is “Country Moon” on her Indianapolis cardiac unit. “They can’t get over the fact that I live in the country and my husband’s a farmer,” she says. Despite their affectionate teasing, her coworkers enjoy the bounty of Michelle’s harvest, especially her homemade salsa! Although she’s stayed relatively close to home over the last few years as a travel nurse, Michelle still feels she receives all the benefits the lifestyle has to offer.

“The number one thing I love about travel nursing is the fact that I can be my own boss,” says Michelle. “I’m in charge of where and when I go.” And although she has extended at the same facility for quite some time, Michelle doesn’t feel stuck the way she did as a staff nurse. She explains, “Now I get the best of both worlds. I can go into the city and make the money I need and then head back home to be the farmer’s wife.” On days like today when she’s living the country life, Michelle tends the lush pink roses in her flower garden and helps her husband of 17 years, Randy, with his 400 acres, where they grow beans, corn and winter wheat as well as raise chickens and Angus cattle. You may also find Michelle and Randy four-wheeling in the mud or searching the rich Indiana soil for wild morel mushrooms.

During the big city half of her life, Michelle spends her time sampling the restaurants along fashionable Massachusetts Ave, browsing museums, sipping local brews and, as is the tradition in Indiana’s race-crazed capital, living it up on Carb Day. A day where music from the live concerts pulses over the grounds and drivers get in a final practice before the famed Indy 500. Michelle enjoys all Indianapolis has to offer with a tight-knit group of co-workers who even follow her home on occasion. They stay at her house, feast on home-cooked meals made with fresh ingredients gathered from the farm, play board games and — for some of the newer travelers — get their first glance of real cows! “I love these nurses,” says Michelle. “I know love is a strong word, but I really do.”

Even before she became the consummate farm wife/hostess/travel nurse she is today, Michelle was no stranger to living a full life. She raised her two daughters and step-daughter, helped her husband maintain the farm and put herself through nursing school all while working as a patient care assistant. She’s got the Midwestern work ethic (on steroids) and everyone in her life benefits from her boundless energy. One of Michelle’s great joys is working as a preceptor and mentoring young nurses. As she puts it, “I feel like I’m the mama bird to a lot of the nurses on the unit.” Of course, she helps them with their clinical skills, but it’s her heartfelt approach to patient care that is truly extraordinary. Her philosophy is simple, “Everyone wants to be treated with respect, love and kindness. I tell my students to treat patients the way you would want your mom or dad to be treated. Don’t be afraid to pull up a chair, hold their hand and talk to them.”

Michelle fits in so well on the unit that people are often surprised to hear that she’s a traveling nurse. But a spirited, independent travel nurse she is. She craves the freedom to do as she pleases — and the high income doesn’t hurt either. “I can get a plane ticket and go. It’s so nice,” she says happily. On a recent trip to Florida with her youngest daughter, Michelle decided she might need to make the vacation life a little more permanent. Michelle laughs, “I was on the beach and I texted my recruiter, ‘Any openings in Melbourne…?’”