Enjoying Professional Growth and a Big Dose of Fun

It would be a challenge to find a nurse who is more enthusiastic about travel nursing than Susan Hearin, RN, BSN.

“I love my life!” said a pumped up Hearin. “I love the flexibility, the travel and the friendships that are the bonuses of travel nursing. I am a true traveler—I don’t own a home, I don’t own furniture.”

Hearin said she likes the feeling of freedom that being a traveler affords her.

“I don’t have the routine everyday responsibilities that I would have if I were living in a permanent home,” she said. “I always feel like I’m on vacation.”

As a labor and delivery nurse, she also enjoys working in a variety of professional situations and collecting lifelong friends along the way.

“I’ve never had a bad assignment,” Hearin declared. “I’ve always been accepted so easily and have never felt like a stranger. When I walk into any hospital, give me a couple of days, show me where some things are and I’m ready to work. It’s a plus that as a temporary employee I don’t get caught up in the politics of the unit. I’m just passing through and helping out. But, I do bond with my co-workers and fellow travelers and cry at the end of every assignment when I have to say goodbye.”

Not that she says goodbye forever. She and other travelers have formed what she calls a “Secret Gypsy Society” and follow one another around on assignments. One will call two others to say, “I’m working in a great place, come join me.”

As a single mother of four children, now adults, Hearin, 55, worked in traditional labor and delivery jobs until the last of her children went to college.

“When he left home, so did I,” she said with a laugh. “My kids often visit me when I’m on assignment. In fact, they help me choose my assignments. Through the years, I’ve had two assignments on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The children visited me there and two of them liked it so much that they got jobs on the island and stayed there longer than I did.”

Other assignments during her 10 years as a traveler have taken Hearin to San Francisco and Oakland, California; Annapolis, Maryland; Panama City, Florida; St. Simon’s Island, Georgia; Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Island and Boston, all in Massachusetts, among others. Her most recent assignment was on a Navajo reservation in Arizona.

Although she has worked with other placement agencies, Hearin has had a longtime association with American Mobile Healthcare.

“American Mobile has taken very good care of me. I was so impressed with their handling of my concerns about a rumored nurses’ strike while I was on assignment, I practically shouted, ‘I’ll work for you forever!’” she said.

Hearin has used her years as a traveler to finish her BSN and the textbook portion of a nurse midwife program, both via distance learning. In order to finalize her credentials as a nurse midwife she must now complete several months of clinical experience, which she will do at the Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital in Shiprock, New Mexico, also on the Navajo reservation. Once she is certified as a midwife, she hopes to secure a permanent position with the IHS.

As she moves on to a new chapter in her life, Hearin is grateful for her many travel nursing experiences and stated that the diverse nature of her assignments has kept her happier in her profession.

“I can’t imagine spending 28 years in one place,” she said. “Most people work all their lives, waiting for their annual two or three week vacation. I’m on vacation all year long.”

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