Working as a travel professional can benefit one’s professional and personal life in a myriad of ways. We talked with three healthcare professionals in the dialysis field, and they shared why they switched to travel positions, and most importantly, why they love it.
Katie Elliott, PCT
Katie Elliott, a dialysis patient care technician, felt drawn to a career in healthcare from a young age.
“I’ve known since I was 14 that I wanted to be in the medical field. My grandfather was a veteran and he was taken to the VA a lot. I wanted to be one of the people who was making a difference,” Katie says. “I learned about dialysis and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Working in dialysis is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. You can’t just be in it for the money, you have to be in it for the patients.”
Though her passion for working with dialysis patients ran deep, Katie decided she needed greater flexibility and control over her schedule.
“The permanent game is great, but unfortunately dialysis has a pretty high turnover. That can lead to staffing shortages and the burden gets placed on those who are permanent,” Katie says. “I was working a lot more hours than I wanted, and I didn’t really have any social time. When I found out about traveling, there was a lot that appealed to me. I especially liked that traveling gave me more control over when and how I work and didn’t burden me financially at the same time.”
Katie also credits traveling with rounding out her skills and experience as a dialysis PCT.
“I already had quite a few skills under my belt, but when I started traveling, I got to learn how to work on all types of dialysis machines, different charting systems, and unique patient cases. I worked with more patients with Alzheimer’s, patients who have language barriers, and patients that have other pressing medical conditions that make their dialysis even more risky,” says Katie. “With the experience I’ve gained traveling, I feel like I have the skills to handle any scenario that might come up.”
Lorena Gibby, RN
After more than 20 years working full-time with a hospital, registered nurse Lorena Gibby looked to travel nursing as a way to visit new places.
“I’ve always wanted to do travel nursing as far back as I can remember. My husband is retired, I like traveling, and I’ve always wanted to do travel nursing,” Lorena says. “I wanted to wait for my kids to grow up and by the time I started traveling, my mom was on hospice. Thankfully, my recruiter worked hard to find assignments close to home so I could be nearby until my mom passed away.”
Lorena is specialized in acute dialysis, so she specifically sought out a healthcare staffing company with expertise in her field.
“I looked at several companies, but I knew I wanted a company whose main focus was dialysis, since it is a specialty,” Lorena says. “I did a lot of research and found Foundation. My recruiter has a strong background in dialysis, so she knows what I’m looking for and what would suit me best. She can relate to me and I don’t have to explain everything. She has been awesome at helping resolve concerns.”
Wendy Devine, RN
Similarly, dialysis nurse Wendy Devine’s interest in travel nursing was sparked by a desire to explore and experience new places and cultures. Though, she admits, the prospect of travel and relocating was outside her comfort zone.
“I was petrified! I didn’t travel. I was from Kentucky and I had never been outside of Kentucky,” Wendy says. “I got a great recruiter who explained things to me in such a helpful way. She is so outgoing and big-hearted; we hit it off right away. She welcomed conversations with both me and my husband and took great care of us. By the time I was ready for my first assignment in Virginia Beach, I was comfortable.”
Seven years later, Wendy has worked travel assignments from coast to coast.
“Virginia Beach and Sacramento have been my top two locations. Virginia Beach was just so breathtaking. In California, there is so much to do. I am two hours from Lake Tahoe and two hours from the ocean. I could go swimming in the morning and snow skiing in the afternoon, if I wanted to,” Wendy says. “These have been the best seven years of my life as far as experiencing diversity and new cultures. You have to get out there and see what each new town has to offer. If you can take your companion, do. And if you can’t, have them visit and let them experience what you’re experiencing through their eyes, too.”
Wendy also extols the professional benefits of travel nursing and learning from new colleagues in new environments.
“I have loved getting to meet new people; they can show you so much,” says Wendy. “You meet nurses who have been doing this for 25-30 years. They want to help show you better ways of doing things and give you so much good advice.”