Cath Lab Tech Uses Traveling to Grow Leadership Skills
As a paramedic, Kyle Renfroe got his critical care paramedicine license and worked six days a week to hone his skills. On one particular day, after transporting a patient to a hospital, one of the doctors was so impressed with Kyle's cardiology knowledge that he invited the paramedic to apply for a job.
Kyle applied, got a job, and begin his journey as a cardiac catheterization lab technologist, often called a cath lab tech.
He worked at that hospital for about a year and then was offered a lead position at a neighboring hospital. The person who trained Kyle at his new job was a cath lab tech traveler.
"I saw his high level of knowledge and skill compared to people who didn't travel," said Kyle. "There was a huge difference, and I wanted that. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be able to get recommendations and have doctors calling me about new positions and opportunities. I wanted to get to that high skill level."
Kyle said that the traveler who trained him recommended AMN Healthcare. It wasn't the first time Kyle had heard about this allied staffing agency; in fact, one of their recruiters had contacted him earlier in his career. So, in 2018, Kyle went searching for his first cath lab tech travel assignment and contacted AMN Healthcare.
Kyle currently works with AMN Healthcare recruiter Stephen Sweeney.
"Stephen has been the best recruiter that I've ever had the pleasure of working with," he said. "I recommend everybody to him, even people who already have recruiters. I know they've got nothing on Stephen because he's very efficient. He's very pleasant to talk to. I get a 24-hour response time from him."
Benefits of allied travel jobs
Kyle's first assignment was at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Despite arriving during a sizable snowstorm, he said he immediately saw the benefits of traveling.
"The best part is always meeting new people and making new relationships," he said. "Also great is learning new techniques. Every hospital does something different. You quickly learn there are many ways to do the same thing to get to the same outcome. With traveling, you get to see them all, and you can adapt them to your techniques and take them with you."
Even though Kyle said he is a people person and enjoys meeting new people, it can be challenging at first to learn and then deal with all the different personalities he encounters.
"Usually, when they're asking for travelers, it's because the hospital needs help or there's a personnel issue," Kyle said. "Learning those dynamics can be challenging for me."
After traveling for his third year, Kyle said he's been very fortunate to have had leadership roles early in his career.
"I've completed many assignments where I trained staff," he said. "Training and traveling have helped me build my experience and knowledge and work with many different doctors and staff. It's taught me different ways to deal with people and has prepared me for a management position."
Since his first travel job in Detroit, Kyle has taken assignments in Florida (Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Miami), Minneapolis, New York, and Atlanta—the latter at the prestigious Emory University Hospital, where he works currently.
"Emory is intense," he said. "They do a lot of experimental procedures, which for me is a lot easier to take on because I've traveled. You have to adapt and have the confidence to move at a moment's notice…But you adapt and keep rolling with it. And I know that can be difficult when you're first starting out traveling. It was for me."
Encouraging other potential travelers
Despite the adjustment period that occurs at any new workplace, Kyle encourages anyone who talks to him to give allied travel a try.
"I definitely encourage traveling to anybody who wants to see new and different things and who wants to learn," he said.
"Humility is probably the biggest aspect of traveling when you first get to an assignment because those people haven't yet verified your skill personally. They need to see that you can do it, and you need enough confidence so that doesn't shake you and you're able to demonstrate your skills,” he explained.
Kyle also said that even though you're traveling, you must remain grounded.
"If you take a travel assignment and you get homesick, that's fine," he said. "You can always go home when your assignment ends. Don't beat yourself up because you're missing home. You have to stay connected to the people you love the whole time you're traveling...stay in contact with them because they still become your backbone when days are hard, and you're in a new place."
Kyle is not sure what's next for him, but he is exploring the opportunity to travel as an interim manager and expand his leadership skills. Wherever he works, he knows that it will be another chance to grow in his career.
AMN Healthcare has dozens of travel cath lab tech jobs, plus other allied travel opportunities throughout the U.S.