Travel Nurse Andrea Dyer Recognized for Innovation in Nursing
By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
Who says travel nurses can’t be change makers, too? Traveler Andrea Dyer, MSN, RN, CNOR, was recently honored for her creative and proactive approach to nursing, due in part to her ongoing efforts to improve workplace safety and patient care.
“I was excited, surprised and really grateful,” said Dyer, MSN, RN, CNOR, upon learning she had won the 2021 Commitment to Excellence Award for Innovation from AMN Healthcare—one of just four awards bestowed by AMN during Nurses Month. The annual awards program is designed to recognize nurses who positively impact the lives of patients and their families every day.
Dyer, who travels with American Mobile, an AMN Healthcare company, knew as a young child she wanted to grow up and be a nurse. She has never wavered from that goal, noting, “Healers are born, not made.”
Travelers can innovate in nursing
Dyer enjoys working in the perioperative setting, and has found it the perfect setting for her innovative and problem-solving approach to nursing.
“The OR offers instant gratification,” she said. “We are fixing people, and that feels really good.”
She began traveling with American Mobile eight years, took a short break, and returned to traveling again two years ago.
“I love the connections I make all around the country,” Dyer said. “The people I have met traveling have mentored me and made me who I am today.”
While travel nurses typically enjoy stepping away from quality improvement projects and other hospital initiatives to focus on delivering quality patient care, Dyer steps forward and advocates for change. She also speaks out against bullying, teaches educational programs and mentors other nurses.
“Travelers do not do the things she does,” said Jane Flowers, MSN, RN, CNOR, CRCST, who nominated Dyer for the Commitment to Excellence Award. “It’s remarkable how she makes relationships and gets involved. She goes above and beyond.”
Advocating for safer workplaces
Dyer is passionate about eliminating surgical smoke, generated by the electro-cautery machine. While working in Boston, she arranged educational programs about smoke evacuation and started implementing the use of smoke evacuation equipment.
While assigned to a hospital in Oregon, she also implemented the use of smoke evacuation equipment, which makes the operating room safer for clinicians and patients. She even testified before the Oregon legislature to champion a bill that would eliminate surgical smoke, and said the bill passed in the state house of representatives this spring.
“All of us can take on leadership roles, even in the travel nursing world,” Dyer said.
In addition, she makes it a point to speak up, even to surgeons, when she witnesses workplace bullying, which can also adversely affect staff and patients.
“Going to different hospitals around the country, I see a lot of [bullying],” Dyer said. “I made it my journey to stop it. People have responded well to my defending somebody.”
Investing in the nursing profession and local communities
Dyer remains actively involved in the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the American Nurses Association. She is president of her local AORN chapter and was recently elected to the organization’s national nominating committee—an accomplishment that she reported all of her nursing colleagues celebrated, especially her fellow travelers.
At every travel nursing assignment, she volunteers to perform community service, ranging from a camp for seriously ill children in Florida to a cat shelter in Maine.
During the initial elective surgery stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dyer chose to work at a Maine hospital’s emergency department, at times being deployed to a tent in the parking lot that was set up to care for COVID patients.
Her advice for fellow nurses: “Keep shining bright, even in the darkness.”
Caring for young surgical patients
As a pediatric perioperative nurse, Dyer has only a few minutes to connect with her young patients and their parents before moving the child to the operating room.
“I have two minutes to win over my patients and family,” Dyer said. “You have to be pretty charismatic.”
One of the things Dyer often does is let younger children watch the “Baby Shark” song on her phone, while she sings and dances.
“The healthcare staff are annoyed by it, but I love it,” Dyer said. “It’s the power of distraction.”
With teens, she will ask what they do for fun and talk about that.
“Once patients go to sleep, you are their biggest advocate, making sure all of the healthcare workers in the room are doing right,” Dyer said. “That’s what you promised their parents.”
Relishing the travel nurse experience
Dyer has traveled all across the United States on assignment, including Alaska and Hawaii, seeing the sights and making friends wherever she goes.
“You can travel and live this incredible life,” Dyer said. “You meet people who inspire you every day. And you make a difference in the hospital and community in each state you go to.”
What does she say to nurses considering travel nursing? “My best advice is to take a chance on traveling, and if you have one bad experience, keep on traveling. I’ve had 100 times more good experiences than bad.”
Dyer credits Amanda Solar, her American Mobile recruiter, with helping her have positive experiences.
In receiving the Commitment to Excellence Award, Dyer hopes people will see that everyone can make a difference. “Anyone can be anything they want to be. It’s been a really tough year for nurses, but the fact we have persevered and not given up is admirable.”
She has no regrets about her career choice and still enjoys nursing.
“I feel like you never work a day in your life if you love what you do,” she said.
American Mobile would like to thank Andrea and all of our dedicated travel nurses for the excellent care they provide. You make us proud! Happy Nurses Month! Follow us on social media for shout outs and giveaways throughout the month of May.
American Mobile is seeking talented and compassionate nurses for travel assignments across the U.S.