Meet Brandi: An Enthusiastic Travel Nurse with Love for Adventure
Name: Brandi Combs RN
“I love, love, love travel nursing! I have met so many people and I learned to be a nurse who can just jump into a new place and go!”
Background: With a list of specialties that includes: Med/Surg, OB/GYN, and progressive care unit (PCU), Brandi is an experienced nurse who is no stranger to the world of travel nursing.
After working a number of years as a full-time hospital nurse, Brandi left the staff nursing world and went to an agency where she would get her feet wet working travel nursing contracts close to home for a few years. One of the reasons she enjoys working as either a travel or a PRN nurse is that as a temporary nurse, you do not have to worry about the politics involved in a work environment. Brandi explains:
“I don’t have to worry about the politics involved when working for a hospital per diem or on a travel contract. I just go, ask how they do things and take care of my patients. I’m not there to try to change anything, just help them through and be a good team player.
Why She Became a Nurse:I became a travel nurse because I have a naturally adventurous personality and love to travel. As a staff nurse, you can only take a small amount of vacation each year, so one perk is to be able to travel to new areas and explore on my days off!
Professional Challenges: Travel nursing is an enjoyable career, but that’s not to say that the territory doesn’t come with significant challenges. Like many travel nurses, Brandi ran into some issues in the beginning in terms of securing and maintaining medical insurance.
“In my early years, I traveled near home so my husband could still work his full-time job and carry our medical insurance. As he began to travel with me, we lost that option. We chose to buy our own private medical insurance through a broker and we pay a premium every month. I went this route because if you take travel company medical insurance, it is canceled around 20 days after your contract is finished. This is fine if you plan to start a new contract within that time and your insurance won’t lapse. I sometimes like to take longer or do something different and didn’t want to find ourselves without medical coverage.?Different travel companies offer good or not so good insurance too. I actually just decided to try out the insurance with my current company. I’m very happy with my current travel nursing agency and I love my recruiter so I don’t see myself changing companies any time soon.”
Travel Nursing Style: When it comes to life on the road as a travel nurse, Brandi has her system down pat and it includes a very family-centered approach to travel nursing. Her husband travels with her during assignments, which are always located in California.
Why California you ask? As a midwestern nurse from the state of Ohio, California has a lot to offer in terms of high pay rates and mandatory nurse to patient ratios. Not only does Brandi bring her husband along for the trip, her children often fly out to vacation with them during the travel nursing assignment. In terms of housing, Brandi tells us why she chooses the stipend rather than the company-provided housing:
“I always choose to take the stipends and find my own housing. I like to be able to research the area and research reviews from other people before I decide where to stay. I look for a clean, safe neighborhood and near the hospital and near fun things to do.?Also, if I am able to find housing below my stipend amount then I can keep the difference as income.”
Part of her family-first approach to travel nursing is not limited to the humans of the family – but also extends to her pets as well. Because her husband travels with her and her children are grown and out of the home, her dog and cat also join her when she is on assignment.
“We brought our pets to California with us this past winter and it was the first time to bring them. We drove from Ohio to California and they actually did well. I made sure they had vet checkups and all the shots were up to date and had them give me copies of their complete records. We brought a dog and two cats. I researched along the way pet-friendly hotels. We made stops to give them potty breaks and time to eat.”
Brandi’s Advice for a Travel Nurse’s First Day on the Job
“In order to hit the ground running at a new facility, I have a basic quiz of need-to-know information I run through when starting out in a new location. As part of this quiz, I get the answers to the following questions:
- Where are the supplies?
- What are the door codes?
- What phones numbers do I need?
- What specific policies should I know?
- How does the charting system work?