May 5, 2011

May 2011: Shannon Smith, RN

travel nurse stories

Shannon Smith has been a nurse for 21 years, but no burn-out here; she’s still very energetic and experiencing life to its fullest! Shannon made the decision four years ago to start her career as a CVOR travel nurse and she hasn’t looked back. She’s a great nurse and her resume is impressive, so she doesn’t have a problem getting a travel nurse job. Just imagine the excitement Shannon experienced during the two years just before she became a travel nurse, when she found herself serving as a consultant and assisting with the startup of two new heart programs. It’s all here in Shannon’s own words for you to enjoy.

Shannon tells us, “My first year, I spent two months in Kenya, helping to start a medical clinic at a community center shared by twelve different tribes. I found myself meeting with tribal leaders, learning their most pressing health needs, and helping to train local people to be community health workers in their own tribes. Then I worked as a travel nurse for three months. After that I went to India for two months to become certified as a yoga teacher. What a trip! Then I had to work for a little while. And finally, year before last, I spent almost seven months traveling (as a leisure traveler, not working) from Cairo, Egypt down to Cape Town, South Africa. Buses, trains, chicken trucks, you name it and I’ll bet I’ve used it for transportation!”

“After that amazing experience”, Shannon said, “I started looking for the right travel nurse company for me. After all, I needed to pay for my major hobby, which is (you guessed it) travel! I did my research on a lot of companies, and decided Travel Nurse Across America (TNAA) was the very best. I hooked up with an incredible recruiter, Derek, and have been with TNAA ever since.”

“I love being a travel nurse because I can complete my assignment, take a week or two off, then go visit Mexico, or Africa, or wherever, and come back to work when I like. I save money during my travel assignments and travel for leisure as I like between assignments. What other career allows you that kind of freedom? The thought of a permanent job, with “vacation requests” for maybe two weeks a year sounds just frightening! I always seem to meet wonderful co-workers, and end up leaving after some sort of goodbye party where we all cry. I still can’t help but get attached everywhere I go. Thank goodness for Facebook! It’s a great way to stay in touch with everyone.”

“I remember my first assignment was in Albuquerque, a city I drove by once and thought, ‘wow, that’s a place I never want to live’! Considering all of the adventurous things I had done, I couldn’t believe how incredibly nervous I was when I started my first travel assignment there. I kept asking myself, ‘What if they don’t like me, what if I can’t learn the way they perform heart procedures”, etc. I’m sure if you talk to Derek, my recruiter, he can attest to all of that and more. Needless to say, I did fine and enjoyed the area quite a bit. Did a whole lot of hiking and took road trips – what a beautiful part of the country. I stayed for two assignments and I was in tears when I left.”

“My next travel nurse assignment was in Ventura, CA, probably one of my favorite towns in the US. Ventura is ‘just a little beach town’ south of Santa Barbara, where the surgeons surf before working their cases and everyone is ‘dude’. I love it there.”

“Then off to an assignment in San Diego, where I found my own place in the Gaslamp district. It was awesome, although I certainly gave Ashley, the best housing coordinator you could ever want, a headache or two. But, I’m sure she’s used to me by now! It was while I was in San Diego, that I went across the border to Tijuana for the first time. A fellow traveler and I went there to get ‘real’ tamales. In the short time I was there I found out I could rent an apartment right on the beach, and it was very cheap, so…I did. I’ve had a place there (and a boyfriend) for three years now.”

“After that, I did another stint down in Ventura, taking the train down to the border on my weekends off, and walking across to hang out at my place on the beach (and no, I have never been scared or felt threatened there).”

“Then, beach and sun girl that I am, I took an assignment in the middle of the winter in, of all places, Wyoming! I drive a little Miata which, believe it or not, I use to travel. It doesn’t even have a back seat. That thing is packed to the brim! Now Wyoming is not a place to drive a 75 pound car with a clearance of about 3 inches and rear-wheel drive. So once the snow hit, I was snow bound. Even when the roads were plowed, the snow was piled up in the center and I couldn’t cross it. And, then there’s the black ice. I eventually moved to an extended stay across from the hospital and walked to work. Whew, what an adventure. But I have to tell you, the people in Wyoming are UNBELIEVABLE! Just the nicest people I have ever met. In California, if you stop on the side of the road with a flat tire, you could sit there for four hours waiting for someone to help you. In Wyoming, if I just slowed down to take a picture of a deer on the street, three trucks would stop and ask me if everything was ok. And, being snowbound, I took up a new hobby – knitting.”

“Now, I’ve landed in Paradise on the Gulf coast of Florida, just south of Sarasota and Tampa. I have an incredible condo with private beach access. The weather’s awesome, and the water warm. I recently talked my 20 year old son into staying with me for a while. He loves it here, too.”

“In my spare time, I do yoga, knit (not so much now that I am not house bound), take photos, and lately I’m beaching it just about every day. My new hobby is hunting for shark teeth.”

“And that’s my story so far. But the real story is about Travel Nurse Across America and why I stay with them. I must confess that I’ve had profiles at a few other agencies but none of them have been able to compete with TNAA. There are just so many wonderful people at TNAA, and they truly feel like family to me. Derek, Ashley, Carla, June, and Miss Ida are the ones I probably have caused the most grief, but they are always happy to speak with me and help me deal with any issues I encounter (most of which are in my head)! They’ve been with me through my good days and talked me through my bad days. When I was in a rough spot, everyone was there to pull me through and make it work for me; across the board from payroll to the CEO. They have most definitely earned my loyalty. I cannot imagine going to any other company. In fact, I always refer other travelers to TNAA without hesitation; I know they can do better with MY Company than with any other company out there. I really do want to thank every person at TNAA, even if I didn’t mention them personally. Recently, on my last road trip, I stopped at their offices in Little Rock and met everyone for the first time. What a wonderful treat! Thanks again, Travel Nurse Across America.”