We sat down with some stellar travel nurses and asked them about the challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced. Travel nurse Corey Strickland talks about creating community wherever you go, tapping Facebook groups for fun, and learning from where you are.
How did you get started as a travel nurse?
I went to nursing school in New Mexico and worked out there as a permanent nurse for about a year and a half. Then, after life took me to New Jersey, I knew that I didn’t want to settle in an area that I didn’t know. So, I started travel nursing on the east coast. That was a little over 4 years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What are some things you love about being a travel nurse?
I love the freedom of choosing where you go. I’ve met so many good people and bonded with so many patients, nurses, and residents. It’s so good to see the different types of nursing all over the country. Everyone thinks that Labor & Delivery is the same all over the country, but no — a woman giving birth in Scottsdale is not the same as a woman giving birth in Manhattan.
When I started, just a few years ago, the networks for travel nursing weren’t as built out. Now they have Facebook groups and you can go online and meet other travelers. You can post, “Is anyone in the area? Do you want to get lunch?” and have some instant friends. When I first started out, we didn’t have that, and I didn’t have the kind of knowledge about travel nursing that I have now. So, I’d say travel nursing has gotten a lot easier in just the past few years. Now, I can really easily create a community wherever I go.
What are some of your favorite places to travel?
Seattle was one of my favorite places to travel. It was a huge network for travel nurses there. The social media networks for travel nurses are really active in Seattle, too, so there’s always someone to hang out with, always other travel nurses to connect with.
I’d like to explore California more, and Texas. And Tim wants me to come to Wisconsin, so I’d like to travel there to hang out more with the TotalMed folks.
What are your top challenges as a travel nurse?
Some places do throw the load on the traveler. You might get the hardest patients or the ones no one else wants. Also, and I tell this to travel nurses just starting out — your mindset is stuck on whatever you’ve learned. So, it’s really important in travel nursing to keep an open mind. If you don’t, it’s going to be much more difficult to learn the protocols and adapt to the personalities of your fellow nurses.
What unique strategies do you use to tackle these challenges?
I’m such a down-to-earth, easygoing person. I just try to just keep in mind that every place is different. So, even if I don’t agree with something, I know that I have the foundational skills that I need and the rest, I can learn as I go.
What advice would you give to a travel nurse just starting out?
Keep an open mind. Just have fun. Even if you’re not really enjoying your assignment, even if it isn’t your favorite, stick it out and learn from where you are. You’re always going to learn something. And remember — it’s just 13 weeks — you can do anything for 13 weeks.
What’s it like to work with TotalMed?
I love working with TotalMed. I’ve been with my recruiter Tim for about two years now. It doesn’t matter the time of day or if it’s a weekend, he always gets back to me. He always helps me solve any problems. He’s fantastic. Whatever I need, TotalMed is always there.
What more travel nursing interviews? Check out our entire series.