Happy New Year! We’re excited to kick off the year with our featured Stability nurse, Sunee! Sunee is an ER nurse with a love for exploring new places. After experiencing COVID in her home hospital, she knew that travel nursing would be the perfect reset button – and it turns out travel nursing is exactly what she needed.
What is your current specialty and placement?
ER nurse- Sahuarita, AZ
What is your favorite part of travel nursing?
One of my favorite things to do is explore new places, so I figured what could be better than being able to travel while doing something else I’m passionate about, NURSING. I love that I’m able to meet new people, learn from different physicians, and expand my knowledge base. I also love that I get to make an impact on patients in different communities and take care of some really amazing people and meet some wonderful nurses.
What is a place on your bucket list for a travel nursing job?
I would love to go to Puerto Rico or Hawaii, or anywhere on the gulf coast. Being near Disney World would also be pretty close to the top of my bucket list, although I would be working just to pay for Disney tickets. Honestly, though I wanted to start traveling to see the United States and find my perfect fit. Ultimately at some point, I would really like to volunteer in countries that don’t have the same access to health care that the United States does.
Tell us about your career history – how did you become a travel nurse?
Covid hit my home hospital really hard, after working for a year and a half taking care of people I knew with Covid I was mentally drained. Covid is really hard anywhere you work but especially draining when you see families of people that are family friends, or that you’ve known for most of your life left me truly traumatized. I felt that becoming a travel nurse and moving on to somewhere new would be the perfect reset button.
Have you found any sort of community while travel nursing?
Absolutely, the facility I am in right now is made up of some amazing staff. From respiratory to ct tech, to nurses and doctors, this facility runs like a family. It’s a small facility and we all have to depend on each other. It’s incredible to see how everyone jumps in and helps out when we’re busy or when we have supercritical patients. It’s nice being someplace where you know everyone is willing to help out to obtain the best outcome for our patients.
What are some of your favorite hobbies and activities outside of work?
My most favorite hobby is traveling. I really love exploring new countries and cultures, and with the exploring have learned I really love to snorkel!! I also really enjoy hiking and spending time in nature. My most favorite place in the whole world though is Disney. It’s the perfect place to take your mind off of everything that’s going on in the world and you can just focus on being a big kid.
What do you always pack?
I’m a bit of an over-packer, and since this is my first travel assignment (although I’ve renewed my contract 3 times) I wasn’t really sure what to pack in the beginning. Obviously, scrubs and comfortable shoes are on the top of the list, but I’m pretty sure I figured out how to pack almost my whole closet and have only worn scrubs and workout clothes while I’ve been in my assignment.
Any advice for future travelers?
Be patient with yourself, if you’re learning a new computer system or new charting system, give yourself some time to figure it out. Starting off someplace new can be kind of stressful, but by the middle of the assignment, it will be like second nature. Also, I’ve had many travelers who have given me the advice to “think like a traveler”, and tell me “you don’t have to do that because you’re a traveler “ my biggest advice is, don’t think like a traveler, go the extra mile to help out where you can and immerse yourself in the culture of that hospital. That will go a long way in easing the new person tension you may feel and will guarantee you will have the best travel experience possible. Be helpful and a team player especially if you want to extend your contract at the facility.
What are your go-to ways to relieve stress?
I love to be outside and to take some downtime away from people. I never knew how connected to yourself you can be just by going out and exploring nature. I also make sure to make time to get a massage on my days off. And I’ve been trying to do more yoga. Stretching, especially after a particularly physically difficult shift, does wonders for your mind and body.
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?
During Covid, the nurses at my home hospital were working between 1 and 2, sometimes up to 3 extra shifts a week. It was pretty difficult to unwind especially when we were short-staffed. I found myself not eating, drinking way too much caffeine, and coming home and drinking 2 glasses of wine to unwind (pretty much every stereotypical nurse meme out there). Eventually, I realized that my routine wasn’t helping me cope effectively and I really lost interest in all the other things I loved. I found myself in a pretty nasty cycle of not getting adequate rest, being overly stressed at work, drinking away my stressors, and suppressing the root of what was driving me to feel like this. Covid is really hard on the health care profession. I’ve learned to accept that, it’s okay not to be okay. I’ve learned that almost all of my coworkers were struggling because Covid wasn’t anything that we could’ve prepared for. I’ve learned many health care providers suppressed their own emotional turmoil to be strong for their families and patients. This is still an ongoing process and there are still many rough shifts. I still get caught up in some bad days and it’s okay. It’s okay to leave a job you’ve been in for many years and try it someplace else. We’ve got to take care of our own mental well-being because our patients are depending on us.