Travel nurse Judy Vernon makes the most of her opportunities on every assignment with Onward Healthcare
By Joan Fox Rose, RN, MA, Contributor
Labor and delivery nurse Judy Vernon, RN, has been in nursing for more than 20 years, and has been a nurse traveler with Onward Healthcare for a good portion of her career. Currently she’s assigned to the Flagstaff Medical Center in Flagstaff, Ariz., where she continues to learn new things, make new friends and enjoy helping the mothers and newborns in her care.
“When I was pregnant with my second son, I had a lot of complications and was hospitalized a lot,” she said. “I got to know the nurses who cared for me. I admired them and wanted to do what they did. So, when I became a nurse I chose to work in obstetrics. No matter how many births I’ve seen, it’s still a thrill to see a child born.”
When her hometown hospital in Wichita, Kan., closed, Vernon decided it was time to expand her horizons.
“I knew I didn’t want to work at another local hospital,” she said. “I was interested in travel nursing and when I learned more about it I decided to travel. I enjoy opportunities to be assigned to a variety of hospitals and look forward to the challenges of learning how things are done in different towns, cities and states.”
Vernon has completed assignments in a variety of places, and among those she’s liked best is Sitka, Alaska. “I’d love to go back to Sitka because it’s beautiful, surrounded by mountains on three sides and the ocean on the fourth side. Sitka also has good salmon fishing which I enjoy,” she said. “I like to go places where there’s hiking trails and cities where I can learn something new.” She enjoyed learning more about America’s history by visiting the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., for instance.
Making friends along the way
Vernon’s favorite travel experiences include making new friends among patients and co-workers. “In Montana, I took care of a woman who was carrying twins and I was with her for several weeks until she gave birth. Since that time we’ve kept in touch, and I’ve had the good fortune of watching the twins grow. They’re about seven or eight years old now.”
When assigned to a West Virginia hospital, Vernon met a co-worker and another long-term friendship was formed. “Somehow we knew we were going to like each other and decided to rent a house together,” she said. “We were compatible housemates and have remained friends ever since.”
Vernon has formed a special relationship with her recruiter, as well. “My recruiter, Erika Lauri, has helped me in so many ways. She understands my travel goals and sometimes I’ll surprise her by going to places she thought I wouldn’t like. Erika is very supportive and she works hard to find contracts for me.”
Tips for nurse travelers and potential travelers
Some nurses may be apprehensive about traveling to new areas or trying new things. But new places can be amazing, and nurse travelers often discover strengths they didn’t know they had, according to Vernon.
“Don’t let fear stop you from going out and just doing it. When you’re assigned to new places, there are rewards both personally and professionally,” Vernon said.
While potential travel nurses should spend time researching places where they want to be assigned, Vernon believes that the most important thing is to find a staffing company you can trust with recruiters that advocate on your behalf.
“Onward Healthcare is the best travel company to work for because they’re not just interested in your job,” she said. “Recruiters talk to me about my personal life and how things are going for me and I appreciate their concern. Onward Healthcare recruiters go out of their way to make sure nurses are happy with their assignments; they’re our advocates and they care.”
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