Travel Nursing Helped DAISY Award Winner Build Confidence
DAISY Award-winning nurse Tiffany Chappell, RN, looks back fondly on her career experiences, including how travel nursing has helped her gain confidence and grow both personally and professionally.
Originally from New Orleans, Chappell was finishing her preceptorship in Florida when the hospital where she was working offered her a full-time job. She took it and stayed for three years before deciding to give travel nursing a try.
After 18 years as a travel nurse, she hasn't gone back to working as a permanent, full-time staff nurse at a hospital.
When Tiffany first heard about traveling, she thought it was interesting, but it didn't fit what she wanted to do right out of school. Plus, she describes herself as an introvert, and traveling at first made her uncomfortable.
So, she compromised. At the end of her three years at her full-time job, she moved from full-time to PRN (pro re nata, or “as needed”) so she could try traveling.
"I wouldn't go on a trip to Europe by myself," she said. "But with traveling, I can explore different things while working, because I drive to all my assignments. Traveling got me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to see different parts of the country."
She had heard about American Mobile, so she gave them a call. Today her recruiter is Carrie Gillette.
"I see Carrie as more than a recruiter," said Tiffany. "She's really an advocate and an asset. She will go above and beyond. I consider her a friend."
Tiffany said Carrie had an opening for her in California, but at first, Tiffany declined, worried that the location was too far from home. Carrie didn't pressure her and told her to let her know if she changes her mind.
Tiffany remembered waking up one morning a few months later and saying, "OK, I think I'm ready to try California."
Travel nurse adventures—including an unusual opportunity
In 2004, Tiffany headed to Northern California to work at the prestigious Stanford University Medical Center, the farthest she had ever been away from home.
"The weather was beautiful," she said. "I'd never been on that side of the country and certainly never been there by myself. And it was just a different environment. Everybody was nice; everybody was helpful. And it was inclusive. The staff that worked there included me in the activities outside of the hospital, which was nice."
Tiffany stayed there for nine months. And although she did feel homesick at times, she enjoyed the assignment. And there were many more to follow.
In 2013, Tiffany traveled to Northside Hospital in Atlanta. As a medical-surgical nurse, she found herself working in a bone marrow transplant (BMT) unit.
"It was a learning experience because the manager knew that I only had med-surg experience," Tiffany said. But the manager reassured her, and said he believed that her extensive experience in med-surg would help her do well on their unit, as many of their patients have comorbidities.
“And that's how I wound up becoming a bone marrow transplant nurse. It's unheard of that a traveler can transition into something that's so specialized without any prior experience."
Tiffany now regularly works in oncology. She's become chemo-certified and has returned to Northside Hospital to work three times.
Care deserving of a DAISY Award
Tiffany said she was "shocked" when she learned that she had won a DAISY Award, which recognizes nurses who have provided exceptional nursing care. American Mobile partners with the DAISY Foundation to ensure outstanding travel nurses are recognized.
Part of her nomination from her recruiter reads: "Over her journey, she has been passionate about taking amazing care of her patients on med-surg units all over the U.S. Recently, she transitioned to BMT oncology and has found her passion, patients with cancer, making sure they are taken care of amazingly. Tiffany is selfless. She gives all she can for her family and her patients. I have never had her complain about an assignment."
While learning not to let her introversion hold her back, Tiffany said that she has learned successful travel nurses must be adaptable and unafraid to ask questions.
"Be open to new ideas and doing something different," she said. "I take from each assignment that a hospital does things a certain way. It may be better, or it may not be better, but I can take that little snippet with me to the next assignment and just incorporate it into my bag of how things are done."
While admitting that travel nursing has helped her blossom, Tiffany realizes there are probably times when she doesn't take full advantage of everything this lifestyle offers.
"I'm still a homebody, even though I go to all these different places," she said. "And COVID has made it difficult. Even if I wanted to go somewhere, I really can't. But traveling has helped me get out of my comfort zone. I go into assignments with an open mind and tell myself that I can do it."
Tiffany's advice to nurses who are considering traveling: Just remember that most travel assignments are only 13 weeks, and you can do anything for 13 weeks. Then you'll know if you like it or not. In the meantime, enjoy the new experience and learn everything you can.
Read more about our outstanding American Mobile nurses, including other DAISY Award winners, in our Profiles & Features section.
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