Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Life has been a little crazy in the Thornton household, but I think things are about to settle down. Brandon is finally through with his October training seminars, and his November schedule looks awesome. I managed to snag some time at our house in Arkansas to deep clean and start getting our house ready to sell. It's been busy, but we've accomplished a lot. Hopefully November will bring plenty of opportunities to relax!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I love the blog. I’ve been thinking about travel nursing, and your stories have given me lots of info. But now you are quitting, I am wondering if travel nursing is a long term career choice. Any thoughts?
Thanks for writing! I’m so glad the blog has been helpful for you.
The practicality of a long term travel nursing career depends almost entirely on your personality and family situation. Along the way, we’ve met several nurses who have done this for years. Most of the long timers seem to be single, older adults who have already raised their families. Traveling with small children is complicated, most teenagers aren’t going to want to move every few months, and it’s difficult for spouses to put their career aspirations on the backburner long term. Being single definitely simplifies things.
I know that for us, there is no way we would be happy doing this forever. We love the traveling and all the time we get to spend together. But every assignment gets a little more difficult emotionally. We really miss being settled somewhere. And as much as I love being a wife and supporting my husband, I still want my own career. It’s frustrating to constantly put it on hold. Often, people tell me to just “get a job” that’s portable, such as data entry over the web, or personal sales. But I don’t just want a job, I want to do what I love—and the fact is, it’s hard to advance your own career when your entire life revolves around somebody else’s. So if you will be traveling with your family, it definitely needs to be a family decision.
As a nurse, you should also take into consideration the stress of orientating to a new hospital every few weeks. Brandon loves getting to work at such a variety of places, but it is definitely stressful, and you will always be at the bottom of the totem pole wherever you go. Travel nurses are expected to work harder than the permanent staff, because the hospital is paying a lot more to have you there. If you can handle getting the worst shifts, the worst schedule, and the worst patients; in an unfamiliar hospital that does things differently than you are used to, you will love it.
As far as the career aspect to your question, I do think that travel nursing is a viable long term option. Just play it smart with your finances. Travel nurses typically make great salaries, but the benefits vary from company to company and are rarely as good as hospital benefits. Build an emergency fund and be prepared for times of unemployment. Save extra for retirement since you won’t be getting a hospital pension. Plan on purchasing your own health insurance. (Health insurance is never “free” for travel nurses. Some companies tell you that it is, but they are really taking it from your hourly wage. You can always decline it and ask for an extra dollar or two an hour. It is almost always better financially to purchase your own plan.)
Great question! I hope this helps.
To all my readers—feel free to drop me a line with your questions any time.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The last week has been nothing less than hectic. Lately, it feels like I have been working for three companies instead of one. I have been completing paperwork and training requirements for my travel nursing company, as well as attending training classes all month long for the hospital. This cuts into my personal time off, and time with my beautiful wife. Finally, I'm also attempting to complete my remaining air force requirements. It has left us both exhausted.
Today we are even more tired, because we both only got about two hours of sleep. I had a training session last night that ended at 10 pm, and had to return for another at 8 am. Since I normally work nights, these were odd hours for me. I attempted to get to sleep around midnight last night. I was awakened shortly after by Courtney screaming "There's someone at the window! Get your taser! Get your taser!" As I groggily awoke, I was not sure what Courtney was seeing, but she insisted someone had just been crouching outside the window and was now walking around toward the patio sliding glass door. Since she had been watching a movie and was wide awake, I took her word for it.
Unfortunately, as I reached for my taser, I realized I had left it in the car, since I felt it would more likely get used fending off a car jacker, gang banger, or drug addict than on my neighbors or local wildlife. Thankfully, in the confusion and frenzy of the moment, the would be intruder heard the commotion and fled. I guess if I heard a woman screaming "get your taser!" I would probably flee too.
After the commotion was over, my adrenaline level was surging. That combined with the slow sinking feeling of our now deflating air mattress left me unable to sleep. For those of you who missed the blog post where we described our poor misfortune on this assignment, we have been living on an air mattress and camping chairs. The mattress sprung a leak a few days ago, making sleep next to impossible. We air it up, sleep for an hour or two, then wake up on the floor. We air it up again, sleep for an hour or two, and wake up on the floor again.
So after our sleepless night, we broke down and bought a brand new Simmons Beauty Rest mattress set. To my family: I know, I know. You all told me that we wouldn't stay on the air mattress for long. But to be fair, it gave out before we did. And after four weeks on an air mattress, we feel like we've earned a nice bed.
We have to survive two more nights on the air mattress before our new set arrives. I look forward to my new restful sleep, but the move back home after this assignment will be a little more difficult. Here's hoping the week gets better. At least I will get my beauty sleep :o).
Monday, October 5, 2009
St. Louis style pizza has three unique characteristics.
- A cracker thin, yeast-free crust.
- Provel cheese (a processed cheese made from swiss, provolone, and white cheddar).
- Square slices instead of traditional triangular slices.
We gave it a try. It was alright, but I don't think they'll convert us anytime soon.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I told you that if you would just hang in there with us a little longer, we would soon be sharing our big news.
So, without further adieu:
Brandon is joining the United States Air Force.
I’m guessing that if this news hasn’t reached you yet, you are thinking something like, “What? Why on earth would he do that? He already has a career as a nurse!” That is how our family and friends reacted, and honestly, it’s how I first reacted when Brandon discussed this with me.
But, as strange as it may seem, we believe this is the right decision for us. Brandon has been longing for more from his career, and travel nursing has prepared us well for military life. Just think about it—most people complain about having to move every 3-5 years with the military, but that sounds heavenly to us! We’ll get to spend 3-5 years in each place, with our furniture, in a real house; instead of 3-5 months in a tiny apartment, with only a carful of belongings. The paperwork thus far has been easier than travel nursing paperwork, and being settled somewhere for a few years will give me more opportunity to advance my own career. But more importantly, Brandon is truly looking forward to serving his country, and taking care of our American heroes.
He will continue working as a nurse, and will stay in the ER for the next four years. After that, he will have the opportunity to do life flight nursing, a long time dream of his. Once we are settled on a base, I hope to begin work on my Master’s degree.
We've been waiting to share the news because we wanted it to be "official," but what we are learning about the military is that we could be waiting a long time for that. The application process can take up to two years. Brandon started his the very beginning of August, so we are still in the beginning stages. We are pushing through it quickly though, and are hoping that by the beginning of November we will have definite dates for training.
The tentative plan is that Brandon will go to COT (Commissioned Officer Training) early next year. We're hoping for January, but that is a best case scenario. COT is a four week training program, specifically for recruits in professions such as healthcare, law, etc. After he completes COT, we will head to his first station. There are several places we could end up, but I have my fingers crossed for Virginia Beach!
I confess that I still have mixed feelings about all of this. I have days where I see the long list of positives, and feel excited about the change. But I also have days where all I can see are the deployments, the rules, the years of renting, and the fact that my husband will essentially belong to the Air Force.
As this new chapter of our lives unfolds, I will continue the blog. I suppose it will change from “Adventures in Travel Nursing” to “Adventures in the Air Force” or “Adventures of an Air Force Wife.” I’ll need the therapy/support more than ever, and it will still be a great way to keep everyone informed.
I knew when God brought Brandon into my life that it was sure to be an adventure, but I must say, I never could have predicted it would be this crazy!