Initially intending to spend some time with her family in Missouri, California trauma surgical nurse Lesley Bradley, RN, signed up with leading staffing company American Mobile Healthcare, but as sometimes happens, fate got in the way, and she has stayed on in the Golden State.
Even though she has stayed in the same region, Bradley finds traveling offers greater advantages than accepting a staff position. Traveling brings a housing benefit and insurance, and she avoids any of the politics or staff meetings.
“It gives you freedom,” Bradley said.
Bradley worked at various hospitals in Los Angeles. She enjoys the warm climate and activities—going to the beach, swimming in the ocean, attending concerts. In fact, she met her boyfriend at a concert and has now accepted an assignment in San Diego to be closer to him.
“I want to try out different hospitals,” said Bradley, indicating she had her choice of assignments at five different hospitals in San Diego. “It’s interesting to see how each hospital runs.”
If she likes a facility, she may extend her contract for an additional 13 weeks. She knows the paperwork and does not have to complete competency exams or sit through another orientation. She prefers spending her time actually caring for patients. Bradley catches on quickly.
“You have to be universal and be able to make changes,” Bradley said.
Bradley decided to become a nurse after watching nurses care for her grandmother. She’s been practicing for five years.
“Nursing is so rewarding,” Bradley said. “It’s interesting to see the injuries patients come in with, especially working with trauma. You get them better and back to their normal life. With trauma you see the rewards.”
Patients typically come in after car accidents or being the victims of violence. Some are in pretty rough shape. Through good medical and nursing care, they often are able to return to their lives.
“It really takes you back when you have a 20-year-old female shot four or five times,” Bradley said. “It’s difficult, but it’s rewarding bringing them back and getting them functioning again.”
At the hospitals, she frequently makes friends, especially with fellow travelers who make her feel welcome.
“Everybody hangs out with everyone,” Bradley said. “At every hospital, you meet new people and make new friends. That’s the most enjoyable part.”
Bradley keeps in touch with friends she makes on assignment through her MySpace page.
She would recommend traveling to other nurses, as long as they are able to adapt to new environments. However, she cautions nurses not to try it until they have experience and good organization skills.
“It’s been a heartwarming, wonderful experience,” Bradley said.
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