We’re excited to announce our new Nurse of the Month series, where we highlight Stability’s rockstar nurses. Starting with OR nurse Marissa Cascio!
Marissa has always had an adventurous spirit. In her free time, she rock climbs, sails sailboats or scuba dives off the Southern California coast. As a travel nurse, when she drives from placement to placement, she brings a large hiking backpack with her full of supplies to stop anywhere in the country and camp, hike, see the sites.
Last Spring, a dangerous adventure presented itself in a way she didn’t see coming. The Los Angeles hospital where she worked as an OR nurse became flooded with COVID-19 patients. She said that over half the staff contracted the virus. But, just like she would for an off-roading trek through a canyon or desert, Marissa prepared herself. The hospital was drastically short on PPE, so each day she brought home her own mask and sterilized everything, and woke up with a fresh mask in the morning.
During the chaos, she had put in a request with her Stability recruiter to work somewhere she had been dreaming of living: Laguna Beach. This summer, a position opened up at Mission Hospital Providence, and within a few days, Marissa says she went in for an interview.
Now, after surviving the worst of Los Angeles’ COVID-19 surge, she says she essentially works on the beach.
“Every single patient has a beach view of the ocean,” Cascio said. “I just wanted to work somewhere that was actually… paradise.”
We caught up with Marissa and asked her some questions about travel nurse life:
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Pennsylvania. From a town called Greenville. It’s a really small town, a rural area. Like I lived on a dirt road.
Did you always want to go to the West Coast?
I always knew I wanted to travel. I never knew exactly where, but I always wanted to go to California.
Were you always aiming to be a travel nurse?
No actually, I wanted to go to medical school. And so at first, my bachelor’s was in nutrition and dietetics. And then I took all the prerequisites, all the courses, studied for the MCAT. And then last minute I changed my mind. I was dating someone who was already in medical school, and I was like, This is not what I want. So I finished out all my courses and then I went to the accelerated RN program. I got my bachelor’s in one year at Rochester University in New York. I didn’t know until afterward, but it’s the top 3% of nursing programs in the nation.
So eventually you became a travel nurse… what made you want to work with Stability?
I signed up with Stability because I have been traveling for so long. It has been five years now. And I kind of just heard word of mouth, what are good companies and what are bad companies and what are like companies that, you know, stand up for their staff, and their nurses. I was so unhappy with my other agencies, I decided to make this change and I’ve been happy ever since.
What’s the travel nursing community like in general?
There definitely is and it’s more just about the locations you’re in and that’s how you get to like meet people and travel around. I’ve definitely made a lot of friends.
Where do you want to travel next?
Do you have any hobbies you do outside of work?
I scuba dive. I go fishing. I rock climb. I do triathlons. All kinds of stuff. Oh and I’m also an Instagram influencer. I actually just started doing it just like six months ago. And I went from 1000 followers all the way up, like 55,000 followers. So weird.
Do you have a favorite snack in the break room when you’re working long shifts?
String cheese. There’s nothing better than string cheese and playing with it to get your mind off of things.
Is there anything in your nursing life that you just like cannot live without?
Probably my dog. I have a little French Bulldog. His name is Gus. I sometimes call him Gustavo when he looks like an old man. He always travels with me.
Is there anything that you pack (not nursing related) for every move to a new placement?
I have a well, it’s a backpacking bag. And so it’s always ready to go with like five or six days worth of food, fire supplies. It has a pillow, a sleeping bag, everything ready to go backpacking — the shoes, like lines and ropes, and everything like that. So that way if I’m traveling from one place to the other place, and I see something I want to explore, I can just throw on my backpack and go.