Guest Post By: Kaci Baltazar, RN, BSN
I’m a small-town TX girl. I lived at home while going to college and had never lived on my own. I got engaged to my high school sweetheart when I was 20 years old. My parents were working-class people, raising three kids, so vacations to exotic places weren’t really on our radar growing up. I love my parents to the moon and back, but I knew there had to be more to the world than my small town. I had an undying desire to see the world, and then I heard about travel nursing; I was mesmerized. I knew it was something I had to do in July 2015; I set out on my first assignment.
My now-husband (then fiancé) was originally from California, so that’s where we chose to go. After dealing with the California BON for 7 months, I finally had a license and got my first travel assignment. I felt like I was on top of the world! At the age of 25, I was finally leaving home and setting my eyes on new land.
And then I got there….
The first week was fabulous. My fiancée traveled with me, and we set out going to the beach, trying new restaurants and new beer! I was in love with the mountains I had never seen and the beautiful beaches. I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to come home.
The next week I started working and reality set in. The hospital wasn’t bad, but it was a culture shock, to say the least. Even though I’m from a small town outside of the city, at home, I drove into the large level I trauma center that had every resource you could think of within its walls. This place was a tiny 2-floor hospital. Wound vac changes? You do them. Consults to specialists? You call them. Rapid response teams? You and your charge nurses. Physicians? You get out of your seat if they want it. It was just so different. I remember that week getting on the treadmill and just busting into tears. I missed my mom; we had never lived apart. I missed the work-family that knew and loved me since I was a CNA. I thought to myself, what in the hell was I thinking moving across the country. Even though my fiancée was with me, I think we both felt so alone.
But then it got better. We started taking trips to San Diego and staying in downtown L.A. on my weekends off with his cousin. The loneliness dissipated, and I found a new, better version of myself. Every day off was a new adventure.
Looking back, I’m so glad I took the chance with my first assignment. I left a perm position that I loved to face the unknown, and it wasn’t easy at first but amazing in the end. I grew up. My fiancée and I grew closer than ever. Both of us were really close to our families, so it was new and invigorating to have only each other to depend on. I grew as an RN. I learned new skills working in a small hospital where there was no wound care team, rapid response team and where physicians were a force to be reckoned with. I learned to make new friends. I became more outgoing. I saw more and lived more in those 5 months than I had in my entire lifetime.
Then it was time to come home. Our families missed us, we were getting married in the spring, and my home hospital offered a crazy good-paying seasonal job. I took it, and I came back. It wasn’t until then I realized I had changed. I was happy to be home with all the comforts, but parts of me weren’t content. The travel bug bit, and I couldn’t wait to be on the road again. That’s the problem with traveling, it wraps around your soul, and while there is no place like home, there is also no place like being on the road with the world in front of you. You begin to crave the unknown that comes with hopping in the car and moving to a city you’ve never been to. I’m not sure how I will ever settle. Maybe we just haven’t been everywhere we need to go, and one day I’ll wake up content at home but knowing the world a little better.
We hope you enjoyed reading one travel nurse’s story and experiences from her first assignment.
About Kaci: I’ve been a tele nurse for 4 years (2018), traveling on and off for the past two. I travel with my husband, who works from home as a recruiter. When we are on assignment, we enjoy trying new restaurants, making new friends, and the outdoors.