If you’ve ever been away from home, you’ve likely felt the sense of freedom from being in a different place. For most of us, a vacation is our only dedicated time for traveling. Then there are those who have dedicated their entire careers to traveling and exploring unfamiliar places. Take Annie P., a Soliant Interventional Radiology nurse, who is about to embark on her sixth healthcare travel adventure. That’s right — sixth! Even more impressive, she’s heavily involved in training for a triathlon despite her busy work and play schedule. As our featured traveler, Annie shares in-depth glimpses into life on the road and how it has changed her outlook on life.
- In what city or town was your favorite travel assignment?
I have been traveling for a little over a year and get so excited when I describe all the places I have had the fortunate opportunity to travel to. But one assignment sticks out in my mind the most and that is when I took assignment in Washington. The Pacific Northwest captivated my heart and soul and is constantly making efforts to lure me back.
Even though the PNW assignment was with another company, it somehow led me to take my first assignment with Soliant. My fiancé and two cats travel with me and we were driving from Raleigh, NC to Vancouver, WA and planned to camp the continental US in one week’s time before settling in Washington. As we made our way to “middle American” aka the Midwest, we stopped in Kansas City to eat a vegan restaurant called Café Gratitude. We can both describe ourselves as the crunchy granola type who love to eat healthy, organic, local food, so we stopped and ate there on our trip. Thomas and I were talking about how we liked Kansas and the surrounding area and that maybe we should take an assignment in Kansas. Then fast forward a few months, I got connected with Andy Millette via social media and I was training as an Interventional Radiology nurse at one of the best hospitals in the country. The rarity of this story is that my background is ICU and this assignment allowed me to cross train in another specialty. But I digress; let me answer the questions in order. 🙂
- Was this your first time visiting or working there?
Both Washington and Kansas were firsts for me. And trust me when I say these areas are both vastly and drastically different. They both possess unique qualities and differences that give them both an attractive appeal to a traveler. And that is one of the highlights of being a traveler – you can experience a place for 3 months and then try another location that is completely different.
- What exciting or fun activities did you do during your assignment?
There are so many for both:
PNW: Ape Caves, Multonamah Falls, Mt. St. Helens, visiting Astoria where the Goonies was filmed, riding my bike to yoga classes, did some food trucking, HIKING!, sight-seeing, traveling down to northern California to see the coast, walking on the beach.
Kansas: local food restaurants, Shoal Creek Living History Museum and Hodge park, seeing bison in their natural habitat, live music in neighboring cities, Stocksdale Park.
- Did you try something new? If so, what did you try?
In the PNW, I hiked the Ape Caves which is an underground cave approximately 1.5 miles long. The best part was that I did this by myself with only a headlamp! Talk about thrilling!
In Kansas some of my friends and I went to the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas and enjoyed the night scene. We went to a piano bar and a dance club and just had a good time living life!
- What was the most memorable part of your stay?
In the PNW, Mount St. Helens was the most memorable. There is something very humbling about hiking and standing next to a volcano.
In Kansas, I really enjoyed Café Gratitude. It’s a great place to eat, chill, relax, and just feel calm while getting some great local eats.
- What did you do in your spare time?
In the PNW, I hiked any day I had off!
In Kansas, I decided to train for a triathlon so I have been constantly at the gym and training for this event coming up in a few weeks! Needless to say, 4:00 am comes bright and early on days I work.
- What were your favorite spots to check out?
In the PNW, the volcanoes! Mount Hood, Mount St Helens, Mount Rainier.
In Kansas, the nature hikes in Shoal Creek and the living history village.
- Tell us about the facility you worked at during your assignment.
The facility in Washington was a great facility that was very supportive and offered many resources for the nurses and staff.
And in Kansas, the facility was top notch. I was trained in an academic hospital setting when I was growing my nursing career as a permanent nurse and it was nice to travel to a site that was very similar. It was a very cohesive institution in that the care that is provided is quality each and every time. Patients always expressed to me that the IR department was one of their favorite departments to visit because they felt cared for and that they mattered. I loved meeting the patients that would come into the department. Some came in regularly and I got to know them personally. They would always express their gratitude for my presence and the teams presence and it made you feel like what you were doing mattered.
My fondest memory was when a patient came in and was extremely nervous about her procedure. She was praying out loud when I came into the room and when she saw me she said “I’m sorry, I’m just so nervous that I was praying to calm my nerves.” Being a woman of faith, I asked her if she would like me to pray with her and she said “You would do that for me?” I said, “Absolutely.” And we prayed together. It was awesome. And in terms of the staff, there are some really helpful individuals there that go above and beyond to make you smile and help you out.
- Would you like to go back again for work/pleasure?
I can’t speak enough about the PNW so Andy has helped me arrange an interview with a facility in Seattle, WA. Hopefully, I can go back to the PNW with Soliant for work AND pleasure.
- Would you recommend this destination to other travel nurses?
Both locations, yes. Experience as much of the country you can! No matter if rural or urban. Get a feel for the country and let it guide you where it will. I never thought a North Carolina girl would end up across the country in Washington State! But I took the leap and it was the best experience of my life! I will say that sometimes it’s tough to go outside of your comfort zone, but that’s where the beauty lies! Beauty lies within the challenges and the excitements you encounter. You get molded into a stronger, better, more well-rounded version of you. So why not?
- How has working as a Soliant travel nurse changed your life?
I can’t speak enough about Soliant. My recruiter Andy Millette is just absolutely wonderful. I feel encouraged, motivated, supported, and advocated for on a daily basis. I don’t know how he does what he does! He works harder than any other recruiter I’ve known (during hours and after) and still has a positive attitude. He is always on top of my needs and assisting me in any way he can. He is prompt at returning my calls, texts, and emails. And having that support when you are far away from home means a lot! And honestly, for the entire Soliant team from payroll to credentialing, I have never had an issue. They are always so pleasant and easy to work with. As a traveler, I can tell I am not merely a number. Whatever the company is doing keep doing it! It’s an amazing team to be a part of!
- What advice do you have for perm nurses considering a switch to travel assignments?
Very short and sweet: Life is about making memories. So start making memories. You will not regret traveling. Every experience is an adventure whether it’s a cross-country adventure or a local commute adventure. You will be living life – and isn’t that what life is about? So live it.
- How many other places have your traveled on assignment?
Five total. Looking for number six now 🙂
- Was this assignment one of your favorites?
Kansas was high on the list because it was a great opportunity to learn. As an ICU nurse, I was able to cross train as an IR nurse and gain some valuable experience and knowledge in a different field. My resume and skill set have grown exponentially because Kansas believed in me, Soliant believed in me, and I believed in me.
- What made this travel assignment different from other assignments?
Certainly the cross training experience.
- How do you train for a triathlon when you are out on the road?
With a lot of discipline and a lot of support from my fiancé. I wake up at 4:00 am on my scheduled work days to get in my morning workout. It relaxes me and helps me stay focused during the day and makes me feel accomplished before the rest of the world has had their first cup of coffee. On non-work days, I sleep in a little bit and get a mid-morning workout in to get energized. It’s really fulfilling to push your body in ways you never thought possible and it keeps you in great shape. There are also supportive people all around me who are encouraging and excited about the triathlon this Saturday. It’s really motivating and I can’t wait to achieve a goal I set for myself. I never thought I would actually be doing a triathlon, but anything is possible if you put your mind to it!
From packing up to move thousands of miles away from home, to taking a chance on an assignment in an unfamiliar place, to waking up at 4:00 am to push her body to the limits, Annie P. has certainly left quite an impression on all of us here at Soliant. It is stories like hers that keep us motivated to fulfill our promise to make lives better for those who make lives better. We would like to thank Annie P. for bringing us along on her healthcare travel journey. Annie — we wish you the best in your triathlon this Saturday! It is our pleasure to continue working alongside you as you prepare for new and exciting adventures to come.
Want to come along for the adventure? Check out the travel photos Annie shared with us by clicking on the collage below:
Think you can handle a 4:00 am wake-up call? Annie P. can. And so can her Soliant Nursing recruiter Andy Millette. Click here to follow Andy’s #21EarlyDays, a blog series chronicling Andy’s bravely inspiring three weeks of waking up before the rest of the world.