Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Logistics and Negotiations

I am a horrible negotiator. Don't tell my recruiting company.

This time around, the contract negotiations were much different than the first. I was a first time traveler, with no experience in Radiation Oncology, and still a reasonably new nurse. This time I had obviously traveled before, had worked in the department I would be staffing, and, well, still a new nurse but much more knowledgeable than before! This placement was also somewhat "emergent." So, needless to say, the ball was definitely in my court.

When I was contacted by my agency to return to New Hampshire, I had given them a start date in the beginning of September, as there were events at home (including a benefit for my uncle who has cancer this Saturday) that I didn't want to miss. The hospital needed me to start sooner, too quickly for me to drive out, find someone to accompany me and fly them home. So, after much negotiation (about a weeks worth) we all agreed on the hospital flying me out and renting me a car for my "short" 8 week assignment.

I'm not very good at asking for what I want or saying what was offered isn't good enough. Personality trait? Lack of confidence? I'm not sure, but I'm learning slowly that the only person who is going to look out for me is....me. Traveling is like being a independent contractor. I am responsible for making sure the contract is accurate, my insurance benefits are correct, and I have all the necessary paperwork and meet the deadlines required. Not much different than a permanent job, except I repeat the process every time I take a new assignment and my contracts can be cancelled at any time, leaving me hundreds of miles away from home and without work. The idea of all of this is both exciting and terrifying. Why do I do this again?

On a side note, I never realized how challenging traveling alone can be until I started this whole adventure. If you haven't been acclimated to this adventure, let me enlighten you with a few lessons I learned from my last bout of solo travel. First, when flying, never trust the flight attendant to give you proper gate information for your connecting flight. Gate H10 my butt! Second, good luck rolling your carry on luggage into the bathroom stall WITHOUT touching the toilet. Third, seating arrangements on the plane are fun. Time to play get to know your sweaty neighbor! This time around, I opted to be in an exit row for increased leg room but sat in the middle. I was placed between two rather large, moist (eww), older men. Man to my right: fell asleep with his shoes off minutes after the flight takes off. Man to my left: can't sit still, fidgeting in his seat, coughing incessantly. Then the drink cart came through. Thank goodness for gin, that's all I have to say.

View of Chicago from the air
The next post is in the works, stay tuned!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

I made it back, safe and sound. It was only about 6 weeks ago that I finished my assignment here in Radiation Oncology, so I didn't require a new orientation. My first day back was Thursday and the other nurse in the department left for vacation on Friday. So, no time to ease back into things, just jump in with both feet. But, I enjoy a good challenge and this will be no different.

When I started telling people back home that I would be returning to the East coast for another 8 weeks, it raised a few eyebrows. Many people questioned my intentions of returning, declaring their concern that I would relocate to New Hampshire. A legitimate concern, I suppose. I originally came for three months the first time, that turned into five months. Now, another two months. When December rolls around, I will have spent more time in New England this year than in Wisconsin. But, rest assured by Midwestern friends, I have no intentions to move away from La Crosse permanently anytime soon. Let me tell you why.

Reasons I love La Crosse (and Wisconsin in general)
1. You can ALWAYS watch the Packer games on TV (you don't have to read the play-by-play off the internet like I did on Thursday night!)
2. The topography of La Crosse is stunning. We get the best of both worlds, flanked by the river on one side and the rolling bluffs and valleys on the other. (see video) 
(I took video during the take-off of my flight in La Crosse, it was a good distraction from my fear of flying while the plane was charging down the runway)

3. It is green! When I came home during my assignment in May, I had forgotten how lush and green Wisconsin gets in the spring.
4. While there is enough to do in town, La Crosse has so many outdoor centered activities, there is something for everyone. I favor hiking in Hixon Forest or biking the trails to downtown.
5. Riverside Park. This is one of my favorite spots in all of La Crosse. I love spending lazy summer afternoons on a blanket, reading beside the mighty Mississippi, having picnics with friends, or stumbling upon a random barbershop quartet concert. (see video)
(On my last night in La Crosse, I wanted to walk through Riverside and found out there was a concert under the stars event at the outdoor theatre. Yes, that is my friend Emily photo bombing my video. See #8)
6. Food. La Crosse has a lot of great restaurants. A few of my favorites? Piggy's soup and salad lunch, the Waterfront's spectacular salmon and amazing deserts, Buzzard Billy's eclectic decor and menu,  Rosie's comfort food and friendly "mom and pop" atmosphere, Fayze's breakfast served up with a smile and warm maple syrup (hey, don't discount the small stuff!), and last but not least, The Pearl's ice cream which is best consumed while strolling through Riverside Park at sunset (see #5).
7. Brats. Beer. Cheese. Enough said.
8. Last but not least: the people. Like I described several times in previous posts, the people of the Midwest are a different breed. Friendly, down-to-earth, fun-loving, and hard working. This combination makes for some of the best friends I've ever had.

I've spent time in my previous posts detailing all the great things in New England and don't get me wrong, I love the people here and scenery is beautiful. But, you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Jig is Up!

Like I had posted previously, I have secured my next travel assignment. I had hoped to keep the location quiet in an attempt to surprise a few people, but alas, the jig is up! I am returning to New Hampshire, to the same hospital and department that I was in before. The secret is officially out and my former co-workers on the East coast are now in the know, so I can break my secrecy!

In my time off, I had been submitted and interviewed for a few other travel positions but none seemed to pan out. Either the hours didn't work or my qualifications didn't match the hospital's needs, ect ect. This process was different than selecting my first assignment. I felt more in control, less stressed, and more confident.

This assignment is also different than the last because it is for a shorter span of time. I am contracted for only 8 weeks and have no intention to extend. I am going to fill in while some staff take vacations and they train the new nurse who's position I had been filling. Since they needed me so quickly, the hospital agreed to fly me out and rent me a car for my assignment, rather than wait for me to drive out. While this is great, the negotiation process was long and tiresome! I told my recruiter when all was said and done, I'm exhausted and I haven't even started work yet!

I fly out this week and will return in October. I am excited to go and sad to leave. I will keep everyone posted on the blog of my adventures once again, thank you to everyone for their continued support!

Friday, August 3, 2012

And it begins again

That's right, my next assignment is right around the corner. The past two weeks have been filled with negotiations, travel arrangements, and organizing packing lists. I will be leaving the Midwest once again.

Where? I am waiting to disclose the location until I arrive. Kind of like a covert operation. Hey, why can't I live the life of a secret agent for a bit?

In all seriousness, I found the negotiation of this second assignment less stressful than the first. The first time around, I was waiting to give my notice at my permanent job, dealing with the looming unknown of my future venture, and trying to close a chapter on my life while opening another. This time, I felt much more prepared. I know what to pack, what loose ends need to tied at home before leaving, and how to handle the inevitable changes to my life that come with traveling. I'm ready. I'm ready to work again. Don't get me wrong, I've thoroughly enjoyed my time off. I caught up with friends and family. I took advantage of being in my favorite city, La Crosse, during the summer with trips to Riverside Park, ice cream from downtown, and bike rides along the bluffs.

 But, I like my job and I miss taking care of patients. So, back to the grindstone.

I will keep everyone here posted as the time draws near and as before, I will post pictures and video from my next adventure.