Travel Nurse Finds Challenge, Adventure and Romance on the Road
By E’Louise Ondash, RN, contributor
Comfort zone? Jenny Kratz, BSN, doesn’t know the meaning of the term.
This traveling ER nurse likes the constant challenge of new work settings, cities, co-workers and even computer systems. The chance to meet her future spouse and traveling companion was pretty special, too.
“You can feel like being a new grad every time you change assignments,” she explained, “and you feel like you have to prove yourself, but it means you don’t get stagnant and comfortable. Putting yourself in new situations like this makes you grow and adapt so you are ready for whatever is thrown your way.”
Kratz likes the ER environment because “I enjoy the fast pace and the fact that you learn something new every day. You never know what is going to walk through the door.”
Raised in Missoula, Montana, Kratz attended nursing school at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. After graduating in December 2005, she did a four-month residency in a trauma center at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital.
“I’ve always had an interest in the medical field, but early on I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician,” she explained. “That changed along the way when I worked as a CNA in the hospital and realized I was more attracted to nursing.”
The fact that her father was a nurse for 32 years also helped to sway her toward nursing “because I had an idea about what the job involved.”
What really tipped the scales toward a nursing career, though, was Kratz’ experience as a patient.
“I saw firsthand just how much of an impact a nurse can have on each patient and the outcome of their stays in the hospital,” she said. “Having a qualified, empathetic and competent nurse can make a scary and uncomfortable situation a lot more bearable.”
After working for two years in the trauma unit at Harris Methodist, Kratz decided to hit the road.
“I had been in Texas for six years and it was time for a change so I figured traveling would be the best way to do it,” she said. “I love to travel, so being able to work and be paid while exploring the country sounded like a great option. I also enjoy meeting new people and seeing how various ERs around the country are run. Over the last two years, I’ve done assignments in Everett, Wash., Sacramento, Calif., Boston and Renton, Wash.”
There’s one other reason travel nursing has been a good choice.
“Another plus about traveling is the fact that I met my fiancé along the way,” she said. “We met on my first travel assignment about two weeks into it and have been together since. He signed on with American Mobile Healthcare and has been traveling with me for the last year and a half.”
On a recent Saturday morning, Kratz and her fiancé, Clint Villiox, RN, were busy packing up their belongings in their Renton, Wash., apartment, preparing to move to Stanford, Calif.
“We have a list of about 10 cities and states we really want to go, which makes it easier for the recruiters, but we pretty much go where there are openings,” Kratz said. “One of our preferences was Boston because we’d never been there, so when there was an opening, even though it was winter, we went. We liked it so much we extended to seven months. Chicago and Colorado are two other places we want to go.”
Kratz encourages those who are considering entering the realm of travel nursing to jump in.
“I would say it’s a great experience,” she said. “You can see the world and get paid for it. “
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