Second Career Nurse Finds Travel the Ultimate Reward

ER nurse and his wife use travel nursing by RV to see the country

By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor

ER Travel Nurse Steve Sawyer Enjoys Traveling by RV

Talk about a career change: Steve Sawyer, RN, worked in an Ore-Ida factory for 21 years making French fries before he started nursing school in his late 40s. He knew he wanted to be an emergency room (ER) nurse because of his 15 years volunteering in emergency medical services. Today, at 58, he and his wife live full time in their RV, and take their home with them to every ER nurse assignment.

“Our main philosophy is that we want to get out and do as much as we can while we are young enough and healthy enough to just get out and see the sights,” said Sawyer, who travels with Onward Healthcare, an AMN Healthcare company.

Oh, the places they’ve been!

Onward travel nurse Steve Sawyer: Grand Canyon

There have been many highlights for the Sawyers throughout their travels. They have visited the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona and the Desert Museum and Biosphere in Tucson, Ariz. In the Northwest, they have been to Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens and driven the scenic Highway 101. They also experienced their first ferry ride to Vancouver Island in southwest Canada.

While on assignment in Southern California, they took in museums, and went to the desert, and stopped at Old Tombstone, Ariz., for a reenactment of Wyatt Earp’s shootout at the O.K. Corral en route to their Tucson assignment.

During a stint in Florida, the couple visited the Everglades and took airboat rides; while in Naples, Fla., they enjoyed the beaches and a cruise to view the homes of millionaires along the coast. Two times they have returned to Beatrice, Neb., for assignments because the people were so friendly and welcoming.

Choosing travel assignments

Steve Sawyer, RN, and wife Shirley: Mt. Rainier

Though Sawyer has worked in some big city trauma centers, he prefers smaller, more rural settings because he can relax as he drives to and from his ER nurse job, rather than being stressed by traffic.

“Traveling in an RV, we take our home wherever we go. We wake up in the morning and have to look out the window to know where we are,” Sawyer said.

“We have extended contracts quite a few times, but we have a ground rule that we try not to stay more than six months in any one location because that takes away from new adventures for us,” he added.

By this time next year, Sawyer and his wife will have nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren (their family is expecting four new babies this year!), living in both Oregon and Wisconsin; that means they will likely choose assignments that take them close to family.

Earning professional perks

“As a travel ER nurse, I have had the opportunity to learn new procedures and how to use different types of equipment. In the emergency department you see something new and different every day,” he said. “Everywhere I have gone, my co-workers have been welcoming.” He advises other travel nurses to keep communication open, and, if an issue ever does come up with a staff member, to deal with it right away.

Steve Sawyer, RN, and wife Shirley: Mt. Rushmore

Sawyer sings the praises of his recruiters, saying the two he has worked with have been exceptional. “Robin always seems to be able to find me just what I am looking for,” he said.

Robin Ordover, recruitment manager at Onward Healthcare, said of Sawyer, “Steve is very easygoing, has a really great sense of humor and gets along with everyone. He does a great job representing Onward Healthcare.”

What keeps this RN in travel nursing

“I really do love my job. I like to say, ‘My vocation is my vacation,’” reflected Sawyer. “I treat every patient as if they are family. It is something new every day. You don’t know what is going to walk in--an earache or a stroke. That keeps me going; it is a new adventure every day.”


Want to learn more about travel nursing? Whether you are a first or second career nurse, travel nursing offers many rewards. Contact Onward Healthcare to ask your questions or get started on the career of your dreams!



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