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Read How Susan N., RN Started her First Travel Assignment with BHS During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on: May 18, 2020

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written by

Ellen Lowry


Hi Susan, thanks so much for speaking with me today. I know you are on your first travel assignment in New York City right now. How have things been working with Barton Healthcare staffing and specifically with your recruiter, Lorenzo?

Well I'll say that this is my first time ever doing an agency. I've been a nurse for 13 years, and I've stayed at the same places, so this was my first time. 

But I will say that I've always not heard the greatest things about agencies, so stepping into this, I was a little hesitant. But Lorenzo was super easy going. Just made me feel totally comfortable. No pressure. Signing a contract was new to me, and he was just there totally every step of the way. We talked thoroughly about everything. I just felt totally safe. He made sure everything was taken care of. 

Oh good, I’m glad to hear that. And what made you decide to do this first travel assignment?

Well originally I wanted to help. That was my original thought process, is that I'm sitting at home, I have all these skills, and a history in the emergency department.. And I just felt like the nurses there were overwhelmed, tired and overworked. So I wanted to go help and make a difference.

So originally, I put my resume out there and I did get a few calls, and I spoke with a couple recruiters but I never followed through. Because it was... I did not feel like I would be protected. And I did not feel... Like they're pushy. You know?

And then a friend recommended you guys. And so that's when I called [BHS], and I was like, wow. This is awesome. I felt totally secure. Lorenzo explained everything - he  even explained how they (the client) had the correct PPE, because I was working at a COVID hospital.

Plus he said, if it doesn't work, we have options. I’m like, okay. I can do this. And it gave me that little extra push I think I needed to go down there. And I am so glad I did.

Good. I'm so glad to hear that. Now where are you originally from?

Upstate New York. So to make it to the hospital, it was about a three and half hour drive.

Okay, got it! And how have you found that the contract or the travel work is different, or similar to the work that you were doing before?

So, it's similar in the way that it's just emergency care. So you have that foundation.

But it's different because the type of patients that you're getting and just being mid pandemic in general. Even just  wearing the goggles, gowns with these hair nets and a jumpsuit. There’s even three pairs of gloves. You put an IV in and you're trying to see, your glasses keep fogging and it's just everything is different. 

But, the staff is really nice and welcoming. So if anything, it was a perfect fit for me.

Okay. That’s great. And in terms of the work in the hospital, has it gone down? Have you seen any changes?

Yes. The first weekend I was there it had a lot of patients, every bed was filled. And they were all what we would call high acuity patients. They were not sore throat cases, etc.

They were patients that required a lot of care, and a lot of monitoring. So it was very... it was very tough the first weekend, the second weekend or so. And then we’ve definitely kind of seen a downward kind of trend in patients coming in. Every weekend I go it seems like there's less and less.

Okay, right. Because you hear things about states reopening for elective procedures and things like that. But you kind of wonder, especially in your area, how are things actually looking? Is it actually going down or not?

New York City, yeah. It's definitely a downward trend. It's hard, all we can do is kind of sit and wait as things reopen and see if there will be an upward trend, when things reopen again.

So it's kind of hard to say. I think the next few weeks will really predict what the future is going to be like. If we'll upward trend or a downward trend or if it will kind of stay consistent.

Right. Interesting. And now, how long is this assignment going to be for you? How much longer?

I'm finished at the end of the month. Although, I wouldn't... talking to some of my coworkers there, there may be an opportunity to stay per diem.

So I'm not sure. At this point my contract's up at the end of the month.

Right. Of course. And it sounds like you are open to extending as well. After this assignment is up, do you expect to do another travel assignment ever again? Or back to permanent? What are you thinking? 

So initially this was going to be my only travel assignment. But, it's been a really wonderful experience, that I would probably consider doing another assignment. Just because, I really do think it's a great company. Everything's been easy. It's been a smooth transition. He [Lorenzo] always checks in, sees how the day's going. Another travel nurse from with BHS, her recruiter checks in too, as well, to make sure everything's okay, they're okay.

You just feel like you're in good hands. Especially going to a huge city in the middle of a pandemic - you need that security, and to be supported by your job that you work for.

Of course.

And we're... I could tell him anything about the job, well this is concerning or whatever, because you just feel like it's a friendship sort of thing. And I think it's the same with my friend and her BHS recruiter. And I think that's really important in travel. Especially for people who might be new to traveling.

A lot of the travelers there that are employed are from other states and they're younger, and for a lot of them, this was actually their first traveling job too.

So, I know they do not feel nearly as supported as I did. And I was telling them about your company because I was just saying, well this is a company where you can really talk to your recruiter and you don't have to worry. You're completely supported and taken care of, and not pressured. It's not just another person placed.

Oh, I'm so glad to hear that. I think that's exactly what we would aim for. So I'm really glad to hear that's been your experience.

Oh, for sure. I tell everybody how great this company is that I work with at work, because I'm new at this, but from the sounds of it, it doesn't sound like a lot of people have this great experience like I did. I'm like, the whole thing has been great.

The job, my coworkers. I mean it's not the best situation with patients and COVID and everything, but everybody's been really nice and really great.

I’m so happy to hear that. Well thank you, Susan, for your time today and all that you are doing right now. All of us at BHS really appreciate it!

Thank you!

Ready to begin your journey into traveling healthcare? Contact the Barton Healthcare Staffing team today to get started!

Ellen Lowry
About Ellen Lowry

Ellen Lowry is content marketing specialist and former recruiter for psychiatrists and neurologists at the Barton Companies' Peabody, MA, headquarters. Originally from the Boston area, she joined Barton in January of 2018 after earning her degree in communication from the University of Maryland, College Park, and completing a four-month internship at Walt Disney World.