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Experienced Nurse Keeps Learning on Travel Assignments

Kristine Lamb, RN, had logged more than 30 years on the job as a nurse—first as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and then as a registered nurse (RN)—when she decided to give travel nursing a try. She saw an advertisement for this unique career option, and her interest was piqued.

“But I didn’t know what travel nursing was about,” she admitted.

She applied for a few travel assignments anyway, and her phone started ringing off the hook. Fortunately, one of the first recruiters who responded was AMN Healthcare's Kelly Sheets, who knew the value of a seasoned nurse like Kristine.

Before she knew it, Kristine had her first travel nursing contract lined up in the ICU of a hospital in Bettendorf, which is one of Iowa’s Quad Cities. It was just a couple hours away from her home in Wisconsin, which allowed her to drive home on weekends when she wanted.

Kristine quickly realized that she had definitely made the right choice to try travel nursing.

“Once I started doing this, I knew I would never go back,” says Kristine. “Never.”

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Where travel nursing has taken her

After that first travel assignment, Kristine continued to take travel nursing jobs for the next five years, working in cities ranging from Sioux City, Iowa, to Bangor, Maine, to Norfolk, Virginia. She brought her husband Jeff along with her, and he handled the details on the home front, while she focused on being a nurse.

Sometimes Kristine took just one assignment in a city and then moved on. Sometimes, she developed a deep affinity for a particular place and extended her stay for up to a year. She started out with mostly intensive care unit (ICU) assignments, but has moved on to requesting progressive care unit (PCU) travel assignments.

Along the way, she also began working with recruiter Malesha Smith, whom she now considers a good friend. Malesha calls Kristine frequently to check in on her, and Kristine loves to tell other nurses about her amazing recruiter.

“The bottom line is that my recruiter takes care of me,” she says.

What she loves about travel nursing

Kristine appreciates the travel nursing lifestyle for a number of reasons. Like many nurses who aspire to hit the road, she loves the “travel” aspect. For instance, an assignment in Maine gave her the opportunity to visit Vermont and New Hampshire during her contract.

She has also met people with whom she has developed deep friendships—the kind of friends who have made it hard to say goodbye at times. One new friend who was expecting a child even convinced Kristine to extend her assignment so she would be there when she gave birth!

Kristine also loves being able to work at a new hospital without having to worry about “hospital politics.” She can just be a member of the team, focus on patients and do her job to the best of her ability.

After working as a nurse for nearly four decades, Kristine has accumulated a wealth of knowledge. But the learning didn’t stop when she became a travel nurse. In fact, she says that travel nursing affords her the opportunity to learn something new every single time she takes a new job. For example, she has learned to care for patients recovering from coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery during her travels.

Kristine is always willing to share her knowledge with her colleagues, and she welcomes the opportunity to learn from them.

“Everywhere you go, you are going to learn new stuff,” she said. “I’ve been a nurse for 38 years now, and I still learn new stuff every day.”

What’s next for this traveling nurse

Today, Kristine is happily working at a progressive care unit at a hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She will wrap up her year-long assignment in September, and then take a little time off so she can enjoy her daughter’s wedding in October. She’s not terribly concerned about where she’ll go after that, but she definitely plans to secure another travel assignment. And she trusts Malesha to help her find a good one.

“I’d like to go somewhere warmer than Wisconsin,” she said. “I just don’t want cold.”

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