So, You Want to go to Nome Alaska? - The Gypsy Nurse

By cheryl hurt

September 11, 2018

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So, You Want to go to Nome Alaska?

Guest Post By: Cheryl Hurt, co-written by: Kimberly Richter

alaskan travel nurseBeing an Alaskan travel nurse is an exciting and unique experience. Here are some tips from travelers that are or have been to Nome. These tips will help you prepare and know what to expect on contract in Nome Alaska.

Orientation

Hospital orientation is generally four days long. The first two days are focused on standard hospital business and Native Alaskan Culture. Day 1 your badge photo and fingerprinting will be done.(yes you will have your fingerprints taken at the hospital)  Lunch will be provided for you.

Day 2 you will visit the cultural center in the afternoon and have the opportunity to try Eskimo salad (something that you really should try) or Seal.

Day 3 Healthstreams (Yikes, there are 44). Dress for days 1 and 2 are business casual. Days 3 and 4 are scrubs. This is only a guide and not set in stone as each department has their own schedule.

Tips and Suggestions:

Housing Tips

  • Nome is a very walkable town. Plan to walk!
    Cabs are available for $4 one way in town. (town is not big!)
  • Housing is corporate female shared housing or Male Shared housing, No Co-ed, so plan on being a great roommate and respect each other.

Shipping and Mailing Tips

  • Ship as much as possible in flat rate shipping boxes that you can get from the post office. You will ship them to:

(your name)
113 W. Front Street
Nome, Alaska 99762-9800
(This is general delivery at the post office)

  • When shipping items remember the postal service is not gentle with packages. Pack accordingly.
  • There is a waiting list for P.O. Boxes. If anyone is going to ship items to you use the address above and have them notify you when items have been shipped.
  • Remember if you are landing on a Saturday or Sunday, the post office is only open M-F from 0900 – 1700. Make sure you have the essentials for the first few days.

Supplies / Food / Etc.

  • Food is expensive; gluten-free is even more expensive. There are only two grocery stores; Hanson’s and AC’s.
  • Meal prepping is essential. Food here is expensive (12 oz. bag of fresh green beans is 4.99, Bananas are 1.29/lb., Strawberries/Blueberries 6.00-10.00). This also reduces wasted food. In the words given to me; “suck it up and forget about the price tags.”
  • Restaurants are expensive. There are only a few. I highly recommend the Gold Dust Saloon at the Nugget Inn. The food and drinks are delicious. They serve sushi (and more), and have trivia on Thursday nights at 1900. The Polar Cafe is another great choice. They have a great breakfast.
  • Paper towels, toilet paper, spices, aluminum foil, zip lock storage containers, and zip lock bags, etc. are expensive as well. Ship as many of these items as possible. (The items I shipped were items that I knew I would use and not have to ship back home at the end of my contract).
  • Ship teas/coffee, these too are expensive. Along with your favorite water bottle, tea/coffee cup.
  • Amazon Prime will be your best friend for toilet paper, paper towels, and non-perishable food pantry items. OR for anything you have forgotten at Home.
  • Reusable grocery bags are essential. This will keep you from buying more that you can carry while walking; unless you want to pay for a taxi which is $4 one way in town
  • There are no “Dollar Stores” in Nome.

Packing

  • Mud Boots (ie. Bogs, Muck Boots, Extra Tough Boots) are also a must. There is only approximately 1 mile of paved roads; all other roads are dirt/gravel. There is a lot of mud when it rains and you can walk in the surf (my favorite part).
  • Bathing suit for the Suana which is located in the Rec center.
  • Sunglasses: Lots of sun into the wee hours of the night and back up in the wee hours of the morning. (It does not get dark during Spring and summer)
  • A good raincoat. Why? It rains and you will inevitably be walking in the rain. We walk here regardless of the weather.
  • Ear Band, Gloves, Hat, Scarf. It still gets cold even in June. Not to mention the wind and rain. You will want to go outside, explore and enjoy the pristine beauty of Alaska and stay warm doing it.
  • A good knife (particularly a pocket knife or survival knife for cutting things.)
  • Lunch Bag — Obvious reasons. The cafeteria is very small with limited hours. Restaurants do delivery however they charge at least 8.00 as your food is delivered by taxi.
  • Ship or pack vitamins, medications, supplements-you most likely will not be able to find them here and if you do they will be expensive. The exception to this is some over the counter medications and vitamins are available at the hospital pharmacy and they are cheap (ie. Bottle of Tylenol 2.00).
  • Chargers for phone, tablet, laptop. Also, make sure that if you are bringing electronics you put them in your carry on. Airlines are not gentle by any means with luggage.
  • House Shoes – floors get sandy/muddy.
  • Bath towel, hand towel, and wash cloth. They should be provided, but just in case.
  • A notebook – Sometimes you just want to write/journal.
  • A good book – There is a beautiful library. It is located at the cultural center.
  • Bring clothes you can layer. Some days it actually does get warm, and most structures (houses, apartments, restaurants, hospital, etc. are kept warm).

Other

  • Wells Fargo bank is here and a local credit union.
  • Money-Cash is nice to have; especially if you have to take a cab (they do not accept credit/debit cards). I brought 50.00 in singles. Everywhere else accepts credit/debit cards. ATMs are available.
  • Make sure to notify banks of your travel. The worst thing that could go happen is they block/lock your card because the think someone has stolen them. Contact your credit card companies as well. They usually do not block/lock cards without notification unless you are leaving the country.
  • Check with wireless service provider to see if they have service coverage in Nome. GCI is the provider here in Nome, but it is expensive. Trac Phones are available and I’m told that they get good service. I have Verizon and I have had ok service so far. (Turn your phone off and then turn it back on when you get to Nome.)
  • Nome is Rural! You cannot drive to Nome as there are no roads that lead to Nome. There are 2 roads that go about 50 miles out east and west. Fly in and Fly out!
  • You can rent a car but, its very pricey like 175.00-200.00 per DAY.
  • There is a movie theater in Nome, Sundays at 4pm is $9.00 (its in the Subway.)
  • You have to have a fishing license to fish in Nome. I think they said it is $150.00/175.00 for the season for non resident/non Native.
  • Animals- Musk-ox, Moose, Bears, Reindeer, Eagles, Huge Ravens. Polar bears are rare in Nome. We have found a baby seal on the beach. You might see Buluga whales passing thru but with the position of Nome, its Rare they say.
  • Do Not bring a firearm as they are NOT allowed in Corporate housing.

Things that others have shipped OR put in a extra suitcase and paid for the extra baggage:

(believe us its worth the extra fee!)

  • Spices/Salt and Pepper
  • Oatmeal
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Body Soap/Lotion
  • Razors/Shaving Lotion
  • Qtips/Dental flossers
  • Dish Soap
  • Hand Soap
  • Laundry Detergent/Fabric Softener
  • Toilet Paper/Paper Towels
  • Crackers Cereal
  • Feminine items
  • Hot Sauce/Condiments
  • Canned Tuna
  • Canned Chicken
  • Protein Powder
  • Dry packaged food
  • Zip-Lock Storage Container/Bags of various sizes.

***Tips- Place plastic wrap under lids of liquids to keep from spilling. If you have a Food Saver, seal liquid containers. If not possible place liquid containers in Zip-Lock bags.

Did I mention you will be walking everywhere?

alaskan travel nurseMost importantly…

Bring an open mind. When you are flying in take in the beauty of this land from the sky. It is gorgeous! But wait until you land; then it becomes breathtaking!

Directions for once you have landed:

At the first opportunity, stop and take it all in. “Shut your mouth (sorry, be quiet), close your eyes, take a deep breath and let it take hold of you. Listen to the sounds, feel the warmth of the sun, the gentle breeze of your skin, smell the world coming to life around you and taste the saltiness in the air. Take a deep breath and open your eyes-she “Mother Nature” has never been more beautiful.”

Alaska will change your life if you let it.

Words cannot describe the majestic beauty of this land/sea. The culture and the history are intriguing. The unspoiled and untouched lands are home to some of the most beautiful animals.
Finally, you will have arrived in one of the most amazing places on earth. Keep an Open mind and enjoy Nome. But be careful, Alot that live here were once travelers and fell in Love with Nome. There is No Place like Nome!

P.S. Don’t forget scrubs, stethoscope, trauma shears, a watch etc. as you will be expected to work a little.

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