By Susan Schneider, contributor
Donna Nakasone, RN, BSN, has been a travel nurse for 12 years. A long time ago, she set the goal of experiencing a wide variety of cities in the United States for extended periods of time.
“It’s different living in a city, rather than being a tourist,” shared Nakasone. “You really get to experience it as a ‘local,’ and get to know the people, the history and the way of life.”
Nakasone has lived in nine states. She started in Las Vegas, Nevada, and left for the other side of the country, Baltimore, Maryland.
“I always wanted to experience the East Coast,” said Nakasone. “I thought Baltimore might be centrally located for the types of things I was interested in and it was. It was easy to spend my time off exploring all the exciting and historic sites in Washington, D.C., New York and small towns and cities in Virginia.”
One of Nakasone’s favorite cities is New Orleans. She was there prior to hurricane Katrina and loved the city’s diversity, energy and local color. Because she spent so long there, accepting multiple assignments to extend her stay, she was able to make good friends, one of whom came from a family that had deep roots in the area.
“Because of her family connections, I was invited to ride on a float in the Mardi Gras parade,” said Nakasone. “It was such a thrill, and it wouldn’t have happened if I had just been passing through as a tourist.”
Making new friends while traveling has opened other doors for Nakasone too. One vacation, she traveled to Jamaica with another travel nurse she met on assignment.
Another time, she was invited by a fellow traveler to participate in a medical mission to Africa.
“If I wasn’t out here meeting new people, I just don’t’ think I’d get these kinds of opportunities,” enthused Nakasone.
Nakasone works for leading staffing agency, American Mobile Healthcare. In 12 years of traveling, she has had only two recruiters, both of whom she speaks of very highly.
“I only changed recruiters because the first one left the business,” said Nakasone. “I’ve been with my second recruiter for a long time. She’s just great.”
Nakasone said her recruiter helps her with everything, from telling her about assignments that she thinks would be of interest, to advising her about specific requirements that might change from facility to facility such as the need for a TB shot or drug test. She also reminds Nakasone when it’s time to renew a license or take a class.
“My recruiter sends me e-mails with updates on things I might forget,” said Nakasone. “And she takes care of my personal needs too. She even knows what size bed I like, that I like to be on the second or third floor of a building and that I like to have a washer and dryer in my apartment.”
Nakasone also likes that her staffing agency and recruiter are so safety conscious. They choose housing in good neighborhoods and make sure living arrangements are safe and secure.
Nakasone has no plans to quit traveling any time soon. The lifestyle, the benefits and the adventures suit her too well.
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