Why should you become a travel nurse – Interview with RN Gem

Become a travel nurse Cape Hillsborough kangaroos beach

Why should you become a travel nurse? We caught up with our nurse Gem to see how she is doing during the COVID pandemic, and she has really highlighted how rewarding it can be to be a travel nurse!

You have been doing agency work for over 12 months now, what do you enjoy the most and what do you find the most challenging? 

I enjoy:

  1. The flexibility of the schedules. I can choose as to how long, when and where I’d prefer to work.
  2. Travel! When I moved to Australia from New Zealand, I never thought I’d ever visit these rural towns that I’ve visited so far!
  3. Working in a range of different departments which help widen and improve my nursing knowledge and skills

I am all for the experience!

I find “the waiting for the next contract” the most challenging for me. While I do get extension offers, it’s the in-between work that I get the most anxious. In saying that, I’m very blessed and fortunate to have Chelsea as my placement specialist. She’s been very supportive and has been amazing the entire time since I joined Affinity, and Liz and Helen too! ☺️

What advice would you give to Nurses who are interested in becoming a travelling nurse?

When I first started doing travel nursing, I felt homesick being away from my usual circle of friends and the comforts of the city. But what got me through is that I kept reminding myself of the reason why I signed up for it. And that kept me going and pretty much have enjoyed every minute of my contracts. If you enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being able to choose where and when you want to work, then yes, you definitely should give agency nursing a try.

Why did you become a travel nurse? 

Prior to joining Affinity, my partner and myself were struggling to find a way on how we can make our relationship work as he’s based overseas while I’m here in Australia. At that time, I was working permanently at a city hospital and only had 4-5 weeks leave/year.

One of my friends from New Zealand stayed over at my apartment while in transit to a contract with Affinity to St. George in Queensland and he told me all about agency Nursing. It was like a “light-bulb” moment for me! I didn’t hesitate and asked him to refer me to Affinity!

It’s the flexibility with the length of the contract, the location, the rates, free travel to and from the contract location, pretty much the whole package was the answer to our situation. I now have the flexibility to travel to South America to see and spend more time with my partner and to Hawai’i to visit my family and to New Zealand to visit friends while also enjoying traveling rural Australia while on contract.

What has been your favourite travel destination or experience while working away?

My favourite travel destination while on contract is the Whitsundays! One of my friends from Brisbane flew over to Mackay and together we travelled to Airlie Beach and explored the Whitsunday Islands. It was paradise!

Also while in Mackay I woke up before sunrise, drove up to Cape Hillsborough and watched the Kangaroos and wallabies on the beach with the sunrise in the background. It was an experience like no other!

My other favourite experience is the inclusion from my team on my previous contract at GVH in Shepparton! They even threw a farewell dinner party for me at the end of my contract which was very touching!

You recently completed isolation down in Sydney.  How did that situation come to be and what was the best and worst thing about isolating?

I travel to Chile(South America) in between my contracts as my partner is currently based there. And it happened that I was there at the time that COVID-19 started to flare up internationally. I was meant to fly back to Australia on the 9th of April however international flights were cancelled. I’ve never been that anxious in my life knowing that I had work commitments from mid-April and I’m stuck in South America without a job. I got in touch with the Australian Consulate as per suggestion from my very thoughtful Affinity Placement Specialist, Chelsea. A week later I got a phone call  telling me that I had a seat on the last flight from Santiago, Chile to Sydney. When I arrived in Sydney I started my 2-week mandatory isolation at a hotel that was provided and paid for by the NSW Government.

It was a 5-star hotel and included free meals, that was the best part.😄 The worst part of it was being alone in the room and not being able to leave for the entire iso period.

What did you do to pass the time? 

I had free internet so I binge-watched Netflix. In between my set out routine, I was on the phone via WhatsApp and Messenger with friends, family, and my partner who were all supportive. And I did a lot of watercolour painting! There was also a lovely lady volunteer from the Red Cross named Bettina, who called me 3 times to check up on me, a mental health support that was also provided by the NSW Health. She ended up sharing with me her carrot cake recipe! 😄 I also made sure to maintain my daily workouts using YouTube fitness videos for 20-30mins each day.

These are 2 of my café art project while on iso, both cafés are located at Westend in Brisbane – Painted by Gem.

What advice could you give to our nurses who will also be doing isolation over the next few weeks/months?

Try to keep a positive mind and try your very best to stay active. Keep moving even just a few minutes a day. Maintain a routine. I woke up same time every morning, set up my workout time, then breakfast, then shower. I still put make up on and wore day clothes and then I got on with my paintings that I allocated for 5-6hrs/day. Before I knew it I’ve completed 10 artworks in 2 weeks!

Have you found other nurses through our Facebook group in your situation?

I have checked the Affinity COVID-19 Support Group Facebook account and it’s been helpful to see what’s everyone up to and what they’re looking forward to once the pandemic allows us to do our pre-COVID plans again.

What is the one thing you are most excited for once all of COVID restrictions start to lift?  

My partner’s visit! He will be coming to see me here in Australia for the very first time so I can’t wait!

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If Gem’s photos and accounts don’t inspire you as to why you should become a travel nurse, we don’t know what will! 

Ready to take the plunge and experience stunning places like pictured here? Affinity can take you there! Contact your placement consultant or register with us online today.

Still feeling a little hesitant? Check out our signs you are ready for travel nursing here.

We can’t wait for you to be apart of the Affinity team.

© All photos the property of Gem.R.