Travel Nursing Sets RN on New Career Path


By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor

Rita Murphy, RN, had nearly 30 years of clinical experience when she fulfilled her long-time dream to become a travel nurse. The experience changed her life.

“In my 20s, I knew I wanted to work as a travel nurse, but my marriage and my daughter took precedence.  But once my daughter was grown, I started looking into traveling again,” she remarked.

Murphy’s first assignment in 2011 with NurseChoice, an AMN Healthcare company, was to provide clinical support for an Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system conversion at a facility in Minnesota. The shorter assignments offered by NurseChoice were compatible with married life.

“I had been using the MEDITECH EMR since 1998, but I was learning Epic right alongside the staff nurses on this first assignment. I really took to it. My extensive clinical experience helped me to learn and navigate the system, and before long my co-workers were coming to me for tech support,” she said.

After years working in the ED and ICU, Murphy discovered she had a passion for informatics. She has set a goal that by 2015 her full-time work will be consulting in nursing informatics.

“I met some smart and talented people working on these projects. By networking I found out about the role of a nurse consultant with Epic and I determined on that first project that that was what I wanted to do,” she reflected. “I was able to do two assignments with NurseChoice where I was providing ‘at the elbow’ [i.e. tech support]--teaching and instructing nurses and physicians during the ‘go live’ phase of the EMR conversion.”

Rita Murphy now works in nursing informatics
Travel nursing assignments for EMR conversion projects led Rita Murphy, RN, into the next phase of her nursing career.

After her second “at the elbow” assignment, Murphy developed a résumé highlighting her Epic go-live experiences, and she has kept busy ever since. She hopes to complete her Epic certification this year.

“What I love about nursing informatics is that I can be a bridge between the clinical side and the technical side. Also, because of my age, I am young enough that I’ve had plenty of computer experience and can relate to younger, more tech-savvy users.  I am patient with older learners who are having to learn the basics of navigating a computer and mouse, in addition to learning a new software system,” she said. “I have found what I will do for the next 30-40 years of my nursing career.”

Murphy says she is energized by visiting new places and meeting new people.  The EMR conversion assignments are especially fun because between 50 and 100 travel nurses converge at a single facility so there are lots of people to spend time with on the off hours.

“Even though I’m not traveling now, I still speak to my recruiter, Leslie Hamilton, every couple of weeks--I can’t give her enough kudos,” she said. “I plan to do a few travel assignments in the future with NurseChoice. They have been good to me; I’ve had great success with them. I’ve looked at other agencies, but why would I change? I know they have my back.”

“I love working. I enjoyed clinical nursing, but I’ve never been this excited, satisfied and happy about work. This is a new level of love in my career,” exuded Murphy. “It has been a great few years. In 2011 it was like I walked into a whole new chapter of life and everything has been new and exciting. I’ve been preparing in some way for this for a long time and now it is coming to fruition.”

Murphy offered advice to her fellow nurses: “Be patient and never lose sight of your dreams!”

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