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A Special Appreciation for Travel Nurses at TJRH

By Stacey Biggs

With the stress of the last two years, including an almost overwhelming nursing shortage, it was very clear we could use extra hands in order to continue to provide top-notch patient care. While we had generally limited the extra expense of travel nurses in previous years, we did not have that option during COVID - our staff nurses needed immediate help. Cue the addition of dozens of travel nurses.

What is a travel nurse?
Travel nurses are skilled professionals who take on temporary nursing positions in areas where they are needed. While the travel nursing concept is not new, the COVID-19 pandemic created a nationwide nursing crisis and, as a result, it also created a huge demand for travel nurses. This option for RNs includes many rewards - such as higher pay, the opportunity to see and work in different parts of the country, and exposure to different nurse leadership practices. But there are downsides as well. Travel nurses often find themselves in unfamiliar environments, surrounded by new people, new systems and processes to learn, and they often experience homesickness caused by time away from their families. It's not an easy choice.

The travel nurse experience at T.J. Samson Community Hospital
The travel nurses that we have been blessed with over the last year and a half at T.J. have been nothing short of amazing. It is hard to imagine how difficult it must be for someone to travel to a place they've never been, work with people they've never met, and get used to systems and procedures to which they have never been accustomed.

It's stressful all on its own. Now, add in COVID and it is honestly hard to imagine what these travel nurses were thinking. But, the one thing that made this transition easier for our travel nurses, was that they were coming to T.J. Samson.

Jordan Sallee, one of our travel nurses, said he was "scared to death of doing this whole travel thing, but everyone from day one has been great." Shannon Holt, another current travel nurse, shared the same sentiment. "I love it here. I came here really needing some love and support, and I got that from day one. I immediately felt like I fit in. Everyone is so welcoming."

Our travel nurses enjoy the T.J. experience so much, almost all of them have renewed their contracts multiple times.

One theme that is constantly brought up in conversations with our travel nurses is the family atmosphere that T.J. provides. Jordan reiterated numerous times that "this place is just different than any other place I've worked - in a good way!"

Courtney Harris, another travel nurse at T.J., even thought that our employees were all related because of how close they are. "When I first came here, it felt like everyone was related. Everyone knew everyone. It's very family oriented. Everyone was very accepting of me and within those first few months I became part of the family."

Assistant Chief Nursing Officer, Jamie Wilkerson, said "From day one, it was amazing to see the collaboration between T.J. staff and agency staff. Quickly, these individuals meshed into the T.J. culture, and the collegiality shared between everyone was special to see in a time of such desolation. The travelers quickly became family."

Our family atmosphere is something we pride ourselves on, and that, along with our focus on teamwork, is what makes this organization the best place to work. That teamwork was something that all our travel nurses credited for easing their transition to working in a new place and something that wasn't found everywhere.

Jordan and Shannon both really appreciated the teamwork that our staff exudes. Jordan stated that, "Everyone helps each other. You know that every day when you come in, you're going to have back up. You're going to have help in some way, shape or form." Shannon went on to add that "You can ask anyone for help, and they will help. And if they don't know, they will tell you who you need to call."

We have been extremely lucky to receive the high quality travel nurses that we have and both our management and staff are thankful for their hard work and dedication to our patients.

Angel Bergenson, a current staff nurse, said that, "...the travelers have been a tremendous help to both staff and patients. They are family now and have fit right in with all aspects of care delivery." Amanda Wells, also a T.J. staff nurse, echoed that, saying, "I have worked many years as both a staff and travel RN. Bringing in travelers to T.J. Samson was a blessing! They came to us in our great time of need and blended with us so perfectly. It's hard to tell a T.J. staff member to a traveler now. We stand together and are all proud members of the T.J. family."

This story was posted on 2022-07-05 13:28:28
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