Brittany was born to be a nurse. She’s everything you want to walk through the door when your child is sick in the hospital: kind, smart, caring, compassionate, confident, and chock full of the kind of experience that matters. It’s also in her blood. Brittany’s mom was a NICU nurse AND a travel nurse. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in this case, except that Brittany has been blazing her own path – specifically in 15 different locations over the last 5 years. She knows a thing or two about quick learning, adaptability, and how varied nursing truly can be.
What was your first experience with nursing? What influence did this have on your decision to become a nurse? Why pediatrics?
My mom was a NICU nurse when I was growing up. I remember when I was little, she would sneak me into the hospital so I could see where she worked. I could NOT believe she worked with babies all day! I later found out that she was once a travel nurse and lived in Hawaii for a year! WHAT? Sign me up!
I don’t really know how I ended up working pediatrics. I remember in school, I left my pediatric clinicals crying, thinking how difficult it would be to work with sick kids. I feel like because I cared so much about those kids, I was drawn to helping them. I wanted to make them feel better and now I have that opportunity every day I go to work!
What advice would you give someone considering nursing as a profession? Would you do nursing school all over again?
Do it! Nursing is the most diversely unique career you can have! There are endless opportunities and it is all centered around helping others. You will work with the most caring, smart, compassionate people, all with a GREAT sense of humor. You meet so many different people and learn so much from them. Don’t expect to get bored! There are many different settings to work in and a variety of schedules to choose from. Did I mention you can travel? 🙂
Nursing school was very difficult for me, but I did it! Was it worth it? Definitely! Would I do it again…? No.
We’ve recently talked a lot about building a personal and professional brand as a nurse, what’s your take on this?
I 100% agree! Nurses have the knowledge, tools, and experience to live a healthy, meaningful life. I try to spread our brand by living it. I am constantly surrounding myself with things that bring me joy, but also challenge me to be a better person. I write out goals to push myself to accomplish them.
Becoming a travel nurse has really built up my personal and professional brand. I have learned and experienced so much in such a short amount of time. I am fortunate enough to share my knowledge by moving around the country and interacting with new people!
I think nurses need to continue to take advantage of the opportunities we have for making our brand known. We should spread the meaning of a nurse by the way we care for our patients, families, and each other, but also take advantage of technology by sharing encouraging social media posts, connecting, and building a strong community.
Tell us a bit about your nursing experience to date. What made you want to start traveling? What kept you traveling?
My first job out of nursing school was in Houston, TX at Texas Children’s Hospital. I worked nights on an orthopedic/surgical unit, completed my nurse residency, and was ready to travel after only one year! I did zero research. I contacted the first agency I found on google and asked if a year was enough experience to start traveling (of course they said yes). Next thing you know, I was on my way to California!
I can’t say I was totally confident on my own, or ready to work day shift, but that didn’t stop me. I wanted to do this, and I wanted it bad.
The adventure and excitement of being a travel nurse has kept me going! I am always learning and always exploring. My husband and I have moved over 15 times in the last 5 years! I enjoy that short moment of not knowing where we will be going next. Do we want to go to the beach, visit family, live in the mountains, get a downtown apartment in the city, make a lot of money? Speaking of, I was able to pay off all my student loan debt in less than two years as a travel nurse! I took some high paying assignments, made a budget, and listened to Dave Ramsey. So long student loans!
You can really make your career work in your favor as a travel nurse.
What has been some of the most insightful aspects of working in relatively similar units across entirely different hospitals throughout the country?
It is all about the people you work with! The workload on a unit could be terrible, but if you are working with good people, nothing can go wrong! Or at least it feels that way. If you are working on a unit that feels like no one helps each other out, be the person to offer help. It will make a huge difference!
You quickly learn each hospital operates completely different. Once you feel like you have learned every technique possible to accomplish the same outcome, you learn ANOTHER way to do it. Which is pretty awesome. Luckily, the goal is all the same. Providing excellent patient care.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What gives you energy?
I wake up to a “peaceful” alarm. I highly recommend it! Go to your iTunes and search “peaceful alarm” and find one you like! It sets the tone for my day.
On my days off I have plenty of energy! Just knowing there are so many places to explore gets me up and moving! I make a bucket list of everything I want to do in every city I visit. Being in the sunshine or next to/in/on the ocean is my #1 but even some good music, a hike in the mountains, a good workout, or quick camping trip will do the trick.
Having energy on a work day takes a little more effort. Before work I grab a quick sip of caffeine, half a banana and hit the gym. A solid early morning workout gets the blood flowing! I make sure to have a nutritious breakfast and pack something healthy for lunch. I try to step outside at least once a shift to get some fresh air. Around 3:00 PM I fix a small cup of coffee to finish the shift strong!
You’ve had quite a bit of experience working with agencies. How many have you worked with? Why did you switch from one to another? What made a recruiter ‘good’? What has been your biggest frustration? Where do you think the biggest gap lies?
Yes! I have worked with at least 9 different agencies in less than 5 years. Crazy right? It would be much easier for me to stick with one agency. If there is something I dislike about the agency or the agency does not have a job I am interested in, I switch companies. It is worth the hassle of filling out a new application and speaking to a new recruiter to get the job I want with a company I enjoy working for.
A “good” recruiter is someone that has a basic understanding of a nurse’s role, is upfront and honest, and listens. It seems pretty simple, but I realized this was a lot to ask!
My biggest frustration was when I would receive a call from a hospital I never submitted my application to. I had to find out who sent my application over and apologize to the nurse manager for basically wasting their time. This happened with two different agencies. I found out my recruiter made the decision to submit my application without my permission. I was not okay with this. Next agency please?
Being a nurse is only a small part of who I am.
Do you think it’s important to identify with other aspects of life in addition to “nurse” or “nursing?
Yes. Being a nurse is only a small part of who I am. Many nurses, including myself, have a second degree, plenty of hobbies and a family outside of work. There are too many things life has to offer and it would be a waste if we limit ourselves just to nursing. If I were sick, I would rather hear my nurse talk about her crazy cross-country motorcycle trips instead of hospital drama.
What do you love most about your identify as a nurse?
I am very proud to be a nurse! Nurses have a real zest for life and dedicate their career to helping others. As soon as someone finds out you are a nurse, it’s like they automatically trust you. I love that. I am fortunate to be in a profession that people respect and listen to.
What do you wish the world knew about nursing?
Nursing is an art. We create the space for people to heal. Nursing is much more than giving medications or following doctor’s orders. We think outside of the box to help our patients feel better. It is a blessing to be a nurse.
What do you think is in store for the future of nursing? What about for your nursing career?
Nurses are game changers! We are in the perfect position to help prevent chronic illness and educate others on how to get control of their life and put their best foot forward! I am excited to see nurses put the spotlight on health promotion and start working from a proactive approach.
I know my nursing career will continue to be fulfilling! I always thought it would be so cool to be a “Nurse Advocate”. Someone that has the nurses back. I would love to spend a day on each unit at different hospitals, speaking to the nurses and finding different ways to make their work day run smoother. I would take all of their suggestions and find solutions for their day to day barriers and implement them. You think I could squeeze that role in the hospital budget?