Travel Nursing Assignments Bring ICU Nurse Full Circle
Some kids grow up knowing that they want to be a nurse, while others experience a major health event that points them in that direction. Sarah M., MSN, RN, is among the latter group. It wasn't until her mom beat breast cancer and she became involved with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life that she realized that nursing was her true calling.
She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in biology and then moved to the Baltimore campus to complete her clinical nurse leadership (CNL) master's degree. From there, the energetic nurse was off to the races as a new graduate nurse. She landed her first job in the surgical ICU at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore and worked there for about three-and-a-half years.
"It's a Level 2 trauma center and we took surgical and trauma patients," she explained of her initial nursing role.
It was at Bayview where Sarah met several travel nurses who worked temporary assignments, and were employed by travel nursing agencies within the AMN Healthcare family.
"I met my friend who was a traveler with my current recruiters. She referred me to them and got me started with the whole process," Sarah recalled. "I always liked the idea of travel nursing and after talking with actual people who I worked with, it really solidified this idea."
The Dream Team of Travel Nurse Recruiters
Sarah’s recruitment team consists Tammy N. and Heather F., two AMN recruiters who job share their roles.
“Both of my recruiters have been amazing—that’s why I am still with them. Since day one, every time I have needed them for something they are always so pleasant and readily available. It’s been a great experience for me,” she said.
“Since AMN is a bigger company, I’ve gotten access to some of the bigger hospitals like Yale and Cornell which is my preference, a larger teaching hospital. They have the website, the app, social media -- it's very 2022 and super easy for everybody.”
Once Sarah got connected with her recruiters and applied, she quickly accepted her very first travel nurse assignment in the neurotrauma intermediate care (neuro IMC) unit at Vidant Medical Center in North Carolina.
"I met my best friend while I was there," she said. "I liked it but I didn't like being out of the ICU environment and they weren't hiring for that at that time. I stayed there for 13 weeks."
From there, she took a medical ICU assignment at Yale in New Haven, Conn. "That was a really cool learning experience because I had always done surgery and they were a very busy medical ICU."
Because of her excellent work while at Yale, Sarah was asked to extend her contract several times. She ended up staying in New Haven for over seven months before moving on to her next travel nursing assignment at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. “I did the float pool there for two 13-week assignments,” she said. “It was a tough assignment but I definitely worked a lot. I was working in every type of ICU and every type of step down and rotating between days and nights.”
Returning Home for Local Travel Nurse Jobs
The Maryland-born nurse then returned to the Baltimore area to travel locally. Her mom’s address became her tax home, allowing her to take travel nursing assignments throughout the area. “I actually went back to Bayview as a traveler where I first started as a nurse! When the pandemic started, I was still there and then in the fall of 2020 I went to another Baltimore hospital – Good Samaritan – and did a COVID-ICU assignment.”
In 2021, Sarah started as a travel nurse at the main Johns Hopkins campus. They have asked her to extend again and again for over a year. Once the last extension is up this spring, Sarah is going to move on to her next contract in a new location.
“The benefits of being a travel nurse outweigh becoming a staff nurse, in my opinion. That’s why I’ve been working locally as a traveler,” she said. “Financially, your salary improves once you become a travel nurse, especially during the pandemic. It’s been a tough work environment but as travel nurses, we’ve been rewarded for our flexibility. And flexibility is another thing: by being a travel nurse you can explore different areas of the country, come home and then travel again.”
When Sarah isn’t caring for patients, she enjoys traveling, exercising, reading and hanging out with her dog and boyfriend.
Interested in launching your own travel nurse adventure? Connect with an AMN recruiter to explore opportunities throughout the U.S.
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