By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
For many people travel nursing offers a chance to see the world, but for some nurses it also presents an opportunity to go home. When her mom developed breast cancer while Melanie Asche, RN, BSN, was working in North Carolina, the pediatric intensive care nurse knew she wanted to return to Maryland and help her mother through treatment, so she accepted a travel assignment in Baltimore.
“I think traveling is fabulous,” said Asche, who travels with staffing company American Mobile Healthcare. “It’s given me the flexibility to be with family when I need to. Family is important to me.”
Once her mom felt better, Asche headed to Charleston, South Carolina, to spend time with friends from college; Nashville, Tennessee; and Charlottesville, West Virginia. She will soon head back to Baltimore to help her brother through cancer treatment.
“I’ve liked all of the places I have been,” Asche said. “I get along well with different types of people and enjoy seeing how people live.”
In Charlottesville, she visited Monticello and area wineries. Her schedule, with six or seven days in a row off while in Nashville allowed her to vacation in Colorado, Florida and Georgia to visit friends and family members. It also offered the chance to work in a major academic medical center.
“It was a cool hospital and a really neat place to be with all the new technology,” Asche said. “I’ve gotten to see some of the things they are doing in medical and nursing research. It was lots of fun.”
Asche admits the first two weeks at a new facility are the most challenging—trying to figure out where things are, learning who the go-to people are, remembering the doctors’ preferences and demonstrating she can handle the tough cases, but once she settles in, she thrives on the experiences.
“You have to prove you know what you are doing and you can take care of the patients, and everywhere I’ve been I really proved it,” Ashe says. “Patients are pretty much the same everywhere you go. How people treat them is a little different, and the family may be different, but the kids are the same everywhere.”
At each hospital, she has made friends with permanent staff and fellow travelers. About 10 people, including support staff and an attending physician at her last hospital, attended a going away dinner party for her.
“I make friends with everybody, and it works out well,” Asche said. “We get together and have good times.”
Often the entire team will go out to breakfast after the shift ends. Other days, they may go to the mall or just hang out together.
“It’s been a fabulous experience,” Asche said. “I’ve really enjoyed this and am no where near done with traveling.”
Looking ahead, Asche hopes to secure assignments in California, Washington State and Colorado. She also will begin an online master’s degree program and looks forward to someday teaching upcoming nurses to give the fine care she prides herself on providing.
“Traveling is a great opportunity,” she said. “You have to be flexible. There is so much to learn at the different institutions. It’s a fabulous thing to do.”
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