July 6, 2008

Travel Nurse Stories: Fourteen Assignments and Counting

travel nurse stories

Catching Up with Annie Athmer, RN

Annie Athmer says she has the coolest job ever. As a TELE RN who has traveled with TNAA for the last four years, she loves to share the cool perks of her job. “I don’t preach or anything, but if people are interested in what I do, I will definitely tell them.” Annie’s eagerness to share has earned her four referral bonuses and she was previously a TNAA traveler of the month! Read below to gain insight on traveling, TNAA, and finding referral opportunities.

Choosing TNAA

Maxed out with her staff position and needing a change, Annie’s path to TNAA is almost a modern-day tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. “I was at my brother’s when I did a Google search of ‘travel nurse.’ I clicked on the first link, but it wasn’t right. I clicked on the second link, and it didn’t feel right either. I clicked on the third link, which was Travel Nurse Across America, and the moment the page opened, I knew it was the right fit. The website already highlighted a lot of the answers I was looking for, so I filled out an application.

The website indicated that I would receive a phone call within twenty-four hours, but I couldn’t wait, so the next day I called at noon. I was transferred to my recruiter, Donna Dickson. I was so impressed that I had already been assigned to someone, and with Donna. Not only did she have all the answers, but she had answers I liked! One of the biggest reasons I signed up was because I learned that my new Siberian husky, Blizzard, could travel with me too.

I knew without question that TNAA was right for me after my very first assignment. I scraped every dime I had to get to Virginia, and my mother even contributed too. Once I got there, Donna called to check on me. When I explained that I was struggling, Donna asked why I didn’t call her. At the time, I didn’t know if I was asking for the moon or stars, so I was scared. She put me on hold and in just a few minutes returned to assure me that TNAA would handle it.

That was huge for me. I was in a new city and didn’t know anyone, but TNAA took care of me. Come rain, snow, sleet—if I say I’m in trouble, it is resolved immediately. As my agency, TNAA is my lifeline. After four years of no problems, no hassles, no bad housing, no delayed checks, and never any missing deposits, I tell people that I wouldn’t travel with anyone else.”

Jobs Perks

Fourteen assignments later, Annie and Blizzard are seasoned travelers. “The hardest part about traveling is the loss of seeing family every day. I missed the birth of a nephew, my niece’s fifth birthday party. Last year I flew home to Carlyle, IL every three months for family events and holidays, and spent $2000 dollars in plane tickets! But nothing about traveling itself is a con. As a traveler, I have the run of the country, of the hospital. I decide when I work. If I don’t want to work during the holidays or on my birthday, I don’t have to. If they don’t want to concede my demands [in the interview], I don’t work for them.

One of the greatest things about traveling is the experience. I have worked in some of the best hospitals, and some of the worst. Professionally, I am number one a patient advocate. With every assignment you have to work within the rules and regulations of the specific hospital, but I don’t have to be best friends with everyone or deal with the politics. Those don’t affect me. My only commitment is to the patient.

The most rewarding part is that I have met the most amazing, interesting, phenomenal people ever. I have best friends all over the country. I could travel from Washington where I am now, to Virginia where I started, and have a couch to sleep on every bit of the way! I have been exposed to different cultures, sceneries, everything. After my third assignment I drove from Virginia in the east to Arizona in the desert. As I crossed New Mexico and into Arizona, every mirror on my truck I looked out of looked like a postcard. It was every color God ever created.

Each time I travel between assignments and I’m driving, I think to myself, I have the coolest job in the world. There are no words to describe how it feels to know that I will never have to wonder if I want to live in Southern California – because I have, and I know that I don’t!”

TNAA’s Referral Program

“Right off the bat people ask about pay. I say ‘it’s excellent, but it varies region to region.’ What’s important to me is to know that I’m taken care of, and that’s the story I share. I also want to give credit to my recruiter, Donna. I can talk about how great my agency is until I am blue in the face, but she is the one who seals the deal. Something I’m able to tell people is that my recruiter and I are buddies. She actively checks on me, and is attentive to my needs. I have the opportunity to sing praises about TNAA, and Donna makes sure my promises are delivered by being a great recruiter.

My most recent referral, Jody, and I met at an ACLS recertification course. I had a lot of experience, and she was with a younger group of nurses. I had a sit down with them about ACLS and protocols, and we just got to talking. I didn’t realize she was as interested as she was, but it’s a matter of responding to what people tell you. She was ready for a change, so I took the opportunity to tell her about traveling. She just started her first travel assignment in May!

I’m very upfront about the referral bonus because I don’t want people to think I sold them for money! I’ve even offered to split it, but no one has taken me up. I may start allotting the extra money for Christmas or a trip, but for now I’m just living the life of a traveler. I love the lifestyle, and I don’t see myself growing out of it any time soon.”