Monthly Archives: May 2011

Arrived with an adventure!

well, I am finally here! what an adventure! I ended up opting to be “bumped”. the flights were  overbooked- so I delayed my travel by 3 more hours, flew 1st class, and ended up with a 250 dollar travel voucher! I can use that on any ticket for myself or anyone else in the next year. that was how much my ticket ended up costing to begin with! the only bad part is I was so tired I missed out of the 1st class experience because I fell asleep. but I had bulkhead 1st class seats, and even though the second flight was so short and small there was not a first class per se, I still ended up with the bulkhead seats. I could have volunteered again for bumping if I wanted and got a 300 dollar voucher to wait to the evening flight. I think this is a way to go, to book on full flights but be flying a day or two before, so you can be flexible and do the “bump” thing. my bags were waiting here for me when I arrived, though I did discover why the lovely pink suitcase I found in Yuma was on sale- its not pretty pink anymore its got black smudges all over it! but I did take some great pictures during the trip, and it was fairly uneventful.

my cab was waiting for me when I got here. I had called them twice with the updates on my arrival information, so that the driver was not waiting endlessly. I also discovered what a small world it is, the driver used to work with someone I know from my old job in Laredo! he used to be a paramedic in Corpus Christi, and worked for a nurse that would travel and work at my hospital. this is another reason I love travel nursing! you get to see what a small world it is! never fails to amaze me the people I meet and the connections that there are. that game of 7 degrees of separation is very true! my taxi driver was waiting for me with a little sign and everything. helped me collect my bags and got me to my destination. he even helped me inside with them. very nice guy, Alex. he gave me the contact information to set up my cab for the morning to go to the hospital to report in. \

The extended stay is even nicer then I thought it would be! its clean, well appointed and helpful staff. I am in the double bed room, the kitchenette comes with a toaster, coffee pot, microwave, burner top and fridge. there are also already dishes and towels. I had to provide all of that before! the bathroom comes with towels and is spacious, and there is cable TV, a small table to eat at, and a iron and board too! I am mostly impressed that the kitchen comes with dishes including pots and pan and plates. that is very helpful.I was told there is a grocery store not too far, but its not in walking distance. I did get a menu for the local Italian place that seems to be popular here, but they were already closed. I got some pizza instead, and am settling in for the night. the AC works really well, though its not needed right now. its only 57 degrees here, and I am quite cold! I also can’t believe how green and lush it is here. I have not seen that in a while!

tomorrow my cab is getting me at 7:45, the hospital is supposed to be just 10 minutes away. I have to go do the HR thing, get badges and stuff, but I don’t think it will be a particularly long day. that will give me some time to explore things tomorrow and get a few things. lets see what happens! so far so good, and I am glad to be settled in. now I just need to adjust to the time difference and start making some new friends!


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Missed my flight

Well, the line for American Airlines was atrocious, and I missed my flight. so I will be arriving in AR a couple of hours later. the good news is I was able to check all 3 bags for 100 dollars, which was reasonable. they didn’t charge me any overweight baggage fees, and they could have charged me an extra 100 bucks for the 3rd bag. it still ended up being cheaper then trying to ship things I think, and I will have everything with me immediately when I get there. they also did not charge me any rerouting fees, which they could have been bad about. I should have been at the airport a little earlier, but the lines were long because of some problems with the international kiosk. I now have a frequent traveler program thing with AA, and I can see me using them a lot. they are very reasonable with the fairs, you can create multiple destinations, and purchase 1 way flights easily. the baggage fees seem to be the cheapest in the industry too.

I called my cab people, and let them know I will be landing later. the ride from Yuma to Phoenix was uneventful, with the exception of drinking too much coffee and not having a rest stop! I also discovered I get really car sick using the ipad in the back of the van! the shuttle took me right to the terminal, and was a very comfortable ride. I slept in the back, there was only 2 of us going!

I am all set now, and just waiting for my flight. I got some coffee and breakfast and have internet, so I can’t really complain. hopefully the flight is not too crowded and I can sleep a little on the plane. next stop Dallas!

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making arrangements

ok, so I have my shuttle booked from Yuma to Phoenix.  they go twice a day, leaving from Yuma at 5:15 and 11:15 AM. I am on the 11:15, which will put me at the Phoenix airport at 3pm. the website is  the rates are very reasonable, especially considering how expensive gas is right now. my cost is 52 dollars one way, and I paid over the phone so everything is set to go.

I debated and debated renting a car the first week vs cabs, but I found out the cabs are not too expensive there. Dynasty cabs which also has a limo service- they have a 40 dollar flat rate from the airport to town, which seems to be pretty standard. the website is the number for the cab service is 479-521-8294. the local rates are $3.50 for pick up and 2 dollars a mile. I will have to see what ends up being most cost effective or if there are other cheaper cab services. its still cheaper than renting a car. to rent the car for the week is 250 bucks after taxes, the cheapest rate I found was 228 for a week thru hotwire, which is even cheaper than my USAA rate. the problem is returning the car all the way to the airport, a daunting task. I did the rental car last time, and I told myself this time I would try without. I also have another nurse who is going out on the 23rd, so maybe if she brings her car we will be set.

I found a place to stay at Extended Stay America, the company rate is with tax 26 a night for a double bed room, with kitchen, TV, cable and internet. the wireless internet is a bonus, though I have my portable mifi with AT&T. we can share this room, especially because we are on opposite schedules. this will really save us money. they charge by the week, which after tax is 170 a week. thats 85 a week per person, all utilities included plus furnished and with a kitchen. can’t beat that! I don’t know how that will work if my family comes to visit, but I guess I will cross that bridge when I get there. there is 24/7  laundry room coin operated too. I land Sunday afternoon, which will give me time to get settled in before Monday morning orientation starts. the only bad part of not having a car will be doing some shopping, but I will make do. hopefully the place is near some shopping so I can get a few groceries when I get there, but I will see what happens. chances are I will run into some more people and can also get rides to work.

so, everything is set! I have my way from Yuma, my new assignment, transport there and a place to stay! I even know someone going so I won’t be all alone! weeee! now I just need to finish laundry and packing ugh.

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travel deals

some links to travel deals today

travel ticker

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Leaving YRMC I am done with YRMC now. Finished my 5th night in a row. That has been good, because I am ready to be done LOL. I would be sadder and sappier I think if I wasn’t tired of working. I have met some amazing people, that I will be friends with for a long while I think. This truly has been an awesome experience. I can’t believe 8 weeks is gone already! I would like to go around and see a few things before I go. I do have some errands to run, need to get another suitcase. I have to go to LabCorp to do my pre employment drug screen for my next job, will do that later today I think. It is weird to think I won’t be back again! I do want to come back next season though. I don’t know if I will be able to come agency, as they do not usually do that. but I will stay in touch with everyone and hopefully come back as seasonal employee next year. well, on to the next adventure!

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Got my Ticket

Ok, I have my ticket ready for my next assignment! I bought it through the American Airlines website. they do not do anything on orbitz anymore. they are having some good specials right now. I also noticed that American has some of the lowest baggage fees. you can get tickets on Expedia for American, and can compare to some of the other companies too. I think Delta might have been close to the same price, but with American I can get miles and the baggage fees are less. my ticket ended up being
265 dollars, and for this assignment I am getting a 300 dollar travel reimbursement! sweet! I will get 150 my first check and 150 my last one. that will pay for the airplane ticket. I also like American because you can buy the tickets one way or make multiple stops without too much hassle. it saves money for me, because I go from 1 location to another rather than round trip. it also gives me some flexibility on my return dates.
I looked into mailing stuff rather than taking it on the plane with me, but the baggage fees are cheap enough that it will be fine to get another suitcase and split my stuff between the two. I shouldn’t go over the weight limit on those.
so, now its time to wrap things up here and move on! looks like I will be heading to Phoenix on Friday, spending the weekend with a friend who will take me to the airport the crack of dawn on Sunday. wooo! I am excited now. I will get sushi and get to play with my friend before I go 🙂 it’s all good!

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Where to Next

ok, so I am going to Rogers, Arkansas next. its a short term 8 week assignment. should be interesting. I will be on day shift, yay! I have not had regular day shift work in forever. I am very excited about that. lots of overtime available too. it will be interesting to see what adaptations I need to make for my schedule doing days. I am thinking more of a two on 1 off sort of thing. I will be working a PCU/Tele floor. the pay is good, and there are other travelers there. I spoke with the manager on the phone, they seem to be having the same issues most hospitals are having these days. lots of new grads, not so many experienced nurses. the poor new grads are overwhelmed. I wonder what is happening to everyone else? and it is odd I must say to be considered ‘experienced’ with 12 years as an RN. I remember when that both seemed ancient, but having done it, it doesn’t seem like that long anymore! below are some links to info about the hospital and the town.  I will be going to the Springdale Location.

wiki-,_Arkansas I have never been to Arkansas before! will be interesting!

wiki-,_Arkansas  i think this is where the hospital itself is located.

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Nursing Travel Agencies I have encountered

ok, so the agency I am with right now is Liquid Agents. this is not a commercial for them, I swear. I was referred to this agency by word of mouth from a nurse who was working cath lab at my old hospital. He said he had been working with them for quite a while and was very happy with them. he gave me the website address, explained to me a little bit about how he got paid, and how it was working for him. I went to their website and completed an application, but also started looking at some other agencies as well. The other ones I spoke with were American Mobile, and On Assignment Staffing. I filled out some forms for some others online, but they never got back in touch with me. On Assignment I contacted online, but someone I knew also worked with them on occasion.

a summary of my experiences and why I chose who I did:

On Assignment- very aggressive recruiter- seemed young and inexperienced, not a nurse by trade at all. pluses- was trying to get me work quickly- minus- not the best pay package, and something turned me off in a very used car salesman sort of way. the recruiter was always ‘reaching out to you” and “wanted to check to see if you had a chance to reach out to the hospital”. it gave me the creeps. I also felt like he was just submitting me for anything and everything, without a real thought as to my worth or my specialties. no real overtime pay, nothing remotely resembling time and a half. the people they said were going to call me did not call me, and when they would tell me to contact someone for an interview I had difficulty getting return phone calls. the only one who did was for something that was not an appropriate assignment for my area of expertise.

American Mobile– professional, prompt in their response. not very high on the payscale, and it feels like a machine. I think these are the big dogs in the industry, but do seem to lack some of the “personal touch” that I like. I got along ok with the recruiter, but she did not seem to remember me from one conversation to the next, and the payscale especially for OT was not up to par. If they were to offer me something that paid enough, I would consider working with them.

Liquid Agents– these were the first people to call me back. My recruiter is Jessica, and she is a delight to work with. she actually seems like a real person, and she is easy to deal with. everything was clearly spelled out in my contract, and she was very flexible with working with my needs. I had originally been looking for some local travel, but she had this great opportunity come up and submitted me for it. it fell into place like a dream, and I got hired right away. the pay is excellent, and she was more than patient to go over all my pay options for the contract. it was spelled out exactly what was what, how I would get paid, and which options I could select. everyone is pushing this tax incentive thing. I personally like it, it works well for me. I take a housing and travel allowance that is tax free, and find my own housing. my taxable rate is far less, which is what saves me on OT. this company actually is giving me an OT bonus, on top of the “time and a half” of the lower hourly rate. they are not keeping that for themselves, which is what I think in truth many of the agencies do. I do not have a problem with them making money- they find me the jobs and take care of a lot of hassle for me. but I am the one who is bringing home the bacon so to speak. I am the one working gobs of shift, representing the company, doing a good job and bringing them more business. I should be the one getting the lion’s share. I am a good nurse, experienced, flexible, and I know what I am worth. I am not desperate for work, and I will always have a job. I feel like I have a very good understanding with this agency, in that we work together so we both can be happy. and if I am happy, they will be happy- because I will bring them more business with those hospitals and recruit more nurses to work for them.

I will make another post more in detail about the pay thing, and how it works exactly with the different pay options most agencies do. this post is just to detail my experiences, it is not meant to be for or against any particular agency. I went with who I did bottom line because of the money and clarity of the offer. I wanted short term assignments, and they offered that as well. I am getting ready for my second 8 week assignment, so we will see if the shine is still there!


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Leaving Yuma

well, I am completing my first travel assignment here in Yuma, AZ. I have learned a lot here for my first experience with this. pro’s and cons, and feel like I will be able to tackle my next assignment with even more confidence. I have met a lot of new people, made some new friends, and really have enjoyed myself immensely. I would say the best thing I have done, was in getting to know people. this has been an outstanding experience for that. if I had to break it down into top 10 things I have learned it would be the following.
1. Research Your Surroundings. I discovered after I had already been here for a while and had spent quite a bit of money on a rental car, that the cabs are ridiculously cheap. I could have saved myself 500 dollars my first 3 weeks here.

2. Don’t be afraid to be unconventional and take risks. I rented a motel room for the first week I was here, then met someone in orientation who needed a roomate. it has been an awesome experience. not only have I saved money, but I have made a really great friend. If I stuck to the traditional route of provided housing or keeping to myself, this would not have been nearly so financially lucrative, nor would I have developed this friendship.

3. Search out your transportation options way in advance. I lost money coming out here because it was kind of last minute, and the travel options were limited. if I had researched things a little more, I would have found out I could fly into a major city and take a shuttle to my location, saving me time and money.
4. Portable Internet. This is a must. everything is online now, and while I brought my laptop and I have my iphone, I did not have real internet access for most of this trip. I assumed I would have it in the apartment, but it was more challenging to get. I ended up getting something through my phone company that is portable and I can hook up to 5 wireless things into it. for 50 bucks a month, it can’t be beat.
5. Travel Light. I have too much crap with me. I have to buy another suitcase to take the stuff with me home that I have now. its really not necessary. half of the clothes I brought with me I have not used, and there are things I wish I had.
6. Have Distractions. its very lonely being away from your family and friends when you travel. you don’t notice it on the days you work, but on your days off, you have to find things to do. its especially hard working night shift, because you feel like such a zombie on your days off.
7. Talk to your neighbors and co-workers. I have gained a lot of tips and information by networking with people. just by being open and friendly, I have learned new things and gotten great tips on local stuff. anything from where to eat, to what to do on your day off. the local people can help you, and the other travelers can offer pointers.
8. Be Flexible. I have floated all over the hospital, and had as much work as I want. I try to be all about what I CAN do, not what I WON’T do. it has put me in good standing in the facility, and really helped me financially.
9. Be Goal Oriented. I have to remember why I am here and what I am doing this for. I make small little goals- get through this week, earn x amount of money…it makes the time go by faster and makes it much easier to adapt.
10. RELAX. this is about the experience, the journey, the adventure of being somewhere new. just roll with it. it is fun being somewhere I don’t know! yes, some people call it being “lost”…I call it exploring. you have to have the right personality for travel nursing, and you have to be flexible. nothing is perfect, no place is perfect. if it was, they wouldn’t need travelers. but its exciting, and its temporary. so if it sucks, it will end eventually. and it is all about what I make it.

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Filed under Agencies, Hospitals, Nursing, Regions, Travel Experience

Starting this blog

Ok, here I am, another great idea. I want to keep a record of my travels, as I am finishing up my first assignment in Yuma, AZ. it has been a great experience, and I am looking forward to my next location. it occurred to me that I could accomplish two things with this blog- I can have something to look back on to show where I have been, and I can also provide resource information for others who are interested in travel nursing. I hope as you visit this, you find it both amusing and useful. I may vent, or simply collect information. welcome to my new life as a travel nurse!

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