Meet Catrina – our Stability featured nurse! After a nursing career starting in an Oncology unit, spending time in management, and working 9-5, she took the leap to begin travel nursing. We’re inspired by Catrina’s love for helping others. Read more below:
What is your current specialty and placement?
RN case manager at Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis
What is your favorite part of travel nursing?
I feel like I’m getting paid to explore new places, meet amazing people and learn something new every day! Every time I leave my hotel; it seems like an adventure because I end up somewhere I’ve never been before. I especially enjoy finding different restaurants and bakeries to try, yum! Like most nurses, I chose this career because I love helping people. In this way, travel nursing is doubly rewarding since I am helping the patients using the skills that I’ve learned from training and experience, and I feel an enormous amount of gratitude from the facility where I practice for easing the strain caused by staffing shortages and burn out.
What is a place on your bucket list for a travel nursing job?
Ooh, that’s a tough question because there are so many places I’d love to go! I’ll say Alaska or Hawaii…I’ve always wanted to see the beauty of Alaska, and I visited Hawaii when I was a teenager and very much would like to travel there again and spend 13 weeks instead of one!
Tell us about your career history – how did you become a travel nurse?
I started my career as a bedside nurse in an Oncology unit at a mid-size hospital. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the disease, we often had patients that would eventually need hospice care. I admired those nurses and I found great purpose in bringing comfort and compassion to patients and their families during that difficult transition; so it felt natural to step into my next role as a hospice case manager. I remained in that position for years before I applied for, and accepted, a promotion to the director of nursing within that organization. I am grateful for the experience, but found management didn’t give me the sense of purpose I felt previously; plus I was often on call, working long hours (often late into the night and on weekends), and had school-aged children. I was afraid I was missing out on important events in their life, so I decided it was time for a change and accepted a position as an acute care case manager for a large health insurance company. It was 8-5 Monday through Friday and it was a completely new skill set to add to my repertoire! After many years there, with my children all grown up and off to college; I decided it was finally time for me to pursue a path that I always hoped I would find (and be brave enough to try!)…and here I am…travel nursing!
Have you found any sort of community while travel nursing?
Absolutely!! Every day I know that I am blessed to have found a sense of community and belonging among the fantastic nurses, doctors, techs, social workers, and therapists at Ascension St. Vincent. Additionally, and unexpectedly, I have created a little family amongst the other long-term guests at the extended-stay hotel where I live. I have always believed the right people come into our lives exactly when we need them and once again that theory holds true!
What are some of your favorite hobbies and activities outside of work?
At home, I’m pretty simple, I like to travel with my husband and try new restaurants. I also love to spend time with my children, read, listen to podcasts, and play with my cat, but on assignment; I enjoy going to local festivals and craft fairs, using Groupon to try new salons, spas, and nail artists, finding unique stores, and trying new restaurants…did I mention restaurants?? Haha..I admit I’m a big foodie!
What do you always pack?
Besides the basics, I have to pack a portable speaker for all my podcasts, my Roku (so I can watch Netflix and Hulu), a toaster oven, and plenty of books!
Any advice for future travelers?
Some things I didn’t think of before my first assignment are:
Be open, confident, and ready to learn at a fast pace.
Find co-workers you click with and don’t be afraid to ask questions…even though travelers are expected to become oriented very quickly, there’s going to be a ton of little things that come up and it’s easier to ask than to fix a mistake!
How much traffic is on the road between you and the hospital when deciding where to stay.
Try to remember the little things you have at home that you take for granted, like scissors, Q-Tips, tape, and refrigerator magnets…those are a few little things I forgot and had to buy.
If you’re covered under a spouse or parent’s health insurance plan, remember, you might not be covered where you’re at…I have Blue Cross Blue Sheild of Tennessee and when I got sick, all the charges were out of network and much more expensive!
Most importantly, enjoy the journey and appreciate the fact that you’ve chosen a career that offers so many awesome opportunities!!
What are your go-to ways to relieve stress?
I like massages, reading, and strangely enough, cleaning and organizing my little home away from home. I also had my first facial the other day and it was amazing!
Tell us a little about your mental health journey. What do you struggle with/have you struggled with in the past? What has helped you work through your struggles?
Being away from family has definitely been tough at times, especially as the holidays approach, but I came to the realization that the holiday is not the day itself.., it can happen whenever you are with the people you love…so even though we’re having Christmas on December 31st, it’s the togetherness that matters!
Day to day, in-between visits, we call and text to stay connected. My husband and I started writing something we love or appreciate about one another or our life together every day. Due in part to the stress of the COVID19 pandemic and loneliness, I also started visiting a therapist to make sure I stay in a good place mentally.