By Joan Fox Rose, MA, RN, contributor
Lauren Roman, RN, and Mike Vallely, RN, met while in their senior year at the Ellis Hospital School of Nursing in Schenectady, New York. “We sat next to each other in class and became good friends and soon started to fall for each other,” Roman said. “Early in our relationship Mike first mentioned the idea of travel nursing. It started out as a daydream, just an idea.”
It wasn’t long, however, until they would turn their dream into reality as a travel nurse couple.
After nursing school graduation in 2011, the two worked at different New York hospital locations to accrue experience in their preferred nursing specialties. Roman chose a telemetry unit that specializes in cardio-thoracic surgery, “because cardiac nursing is my passion.” Mike took a job as an emergency department nurse. During this time they researched information about travel nursing and decided to pursue their dream in August 2013. The trip itself became part of the experience, exploring new cities as they drove across country to their first assignments in California.
Upon comparing pay rates and other benefits, Roman and Vallely decided to switch travel nursing companies and began traveling with American Mobile Healthcare in January 2014, where they have been enjoying new opportunities. The travel nurse couple recently completed a 13-week assignment at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Panorama City, California, and they are looking forward to their next assignment at Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Redding, California.
The two travelers have now established reciprocity for their RN licenses in their home state of New York and in California, where that state has enacted the Safe Hospital Staffing Law that mandates nurse-to-patient ratios.
“Due to this law, I have never felt unsafe while caring for patients,” Roman said. She has appreciated California’s 4:1 patient-to-nurse ratio implemented in telemetry departments where she’s been assigned. In fact, should a telemetry RN be assigned to a vented patient, the ratio becomes 3:1.
“New York, as well as many other states, have yet to pass and enact safe nurse-to-patient ratios,” Roman pointed out. “I strongly believe safe staffing ratios improve the quality of patient care and facilitates better patient outcomes,” she said.
Their travel nursing specialties
“A telemetry unit provides me with a varied nursing experience,” Roman said. “As a telemetry RN, my role and responsibility is to provide comfort and care for my patients while managing high risk medications, adjusting many drips and rates and providing post- operative teaching to my cardiac patients. The acuity of patients is high, many patients have multiple diagnoses and cormorbidities that may complicate their hospital course.”
“As a telemetry RN you care for a variety of patients with diagnoses that vary from acute MI [myocardial infraction], CHF, AFIB, COPD and respiratory failure,” she said. “Telemetry is a bridge for other nursing specialties, like ICU.”
Vallely added that working as an emergency room nurse has been an enjoyable experience for him. “Sure, it’s a high stress job and you have to keep focused and on your toes,” he said. “The ER is never predictable or boring and even on the worst days I find myself laughing at least once as I interact with patients, families or staff.”
Their experience traveling together
“Our goal was to work at the same hospital on the same shift,” Roman said. “Most travel nurse couples we’ve met work in the same specialty. As we chose different specialties, some hospitals may not be able to accommodate us. We choose to work night shifts because there are more job opportunities for us, and our recruiter, Angela Malone, knows we want to be hired as a couple.”
“It’s nice to be with someone who speaks the same nursing language,” Vallely said. “We share and solve many of the same work-related problems and it’s important for us to be there for each other.”
They also enjoy spending their spare time together, exploring new areas and taking advantage of the California lifestyle in their assignment locations.
Hospital orientations for travel nurses can be a little nerve-wracking, but most things will seem familiar upon your arrival on a new nursing unit. Roman pointed out that it’s comforting to know that nursing care is the same no matter where you are assigned.
“Once you step onto a nursing unit, your nursing knowledge and skills will come back to you because you are a nurse,” she said.
“As travel nurses we’re not there to change how things are done,” Vallely added. “You’ve got to roll with it in regards to your routine and jive with the rest of the team. As long as you have that skill, you’ll usually find that you work well with other team members.”
Interested in pursuing your dream of travel nursing with American Mobile? Apply today!