By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
A seasoned professional who began studying nursing on the advice of a college counselor, Guadalupe Ortega, RN, BSN, has parlayed all the field has to offer into a sensational career that recently entered a new phase as a traveler.
“Nursing has been really good to me,” Ortega said. “It’s taken me places and is rewarding financially, spiritually and emotionally. And I’ve been rewarded with making great, long-lasting friendships.”
Although her counselor shook up her plans to become an artist, the Colorado native has no regrets about her career choice. The counselor recognized qualities in Ortega that at the time she did not see in herself. He suggested she take some sciences courses, warning her that as an artist, she could starve to death—as a nurse that wouldn’t happen.
“I took the science classes and excelled in them, and I had a lot of fun with them,” Ortega said.
Ortega first became an LPN, and then pursued her bachelor’s degree and RN licensure. After four years at an Arizona burn center, Ortega fulfilled a long-held desire to work as a telemetry-unit traveler about six months ago. Now on her second California assignment with NursesRx, she likes the lifestyle.
“It’s a great opportunity to go see different places, do different things and meet new people,” Ortega said. “It’s been quite an education. I can expand on my knowledge at work and geographically.”
Ortega spends the first part of her time at a new assignment learning about the area. She enjoys savoring the fare at different restaurants, visiting art galleries, attending concerts and checking out landmarks. And she recently met a new love interest.
“Making friends seems to fall into place,” Ortega said. “I’ve had good experiences.”
During her first assignment, she ran into a former co-worker from the burn center. Neither knew the other had decided to travel and both found having a familiar face around made the transition to traveling easier.
At the hospitals, she finds co-workers helpful and glad she is there to help. They assign patients fairly and freely answer her queries about where things are located without questioning her competencies.
“Every telemetry unit is the same, but in a different location,” Ortega said. “A patient head-to-toe assessment and every cardiac assessment is the same. Finding stuff is a little harder.”
As is common in the profession, Ortega does not always receive her preferred holidays off, but she always works the day shift.
Ortega lives in a nicely appointed, comfortable apartment about 15 minutes from her assignment. NursesRx made all the arrangements. She had no need to come up with a deposit. She maintains her house in Arizona as a home base.
On her days off, she kayaks, boats, soaks up the sun. Or she may get in the car and simply head in a new direction to explore what treasures exist off the main highways or in the next community.
“It’s a great opportunity to expand on a lot of things, whatever it is you like to do,” said Ortega, who highly recommends traveling to other nurses.
“For young people who want to travel, this is the best way,” she concluded. “When you go on vacation for a week, you only see one part of [a community]. Living in the environment, you can learn so much more.”
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