February Nurse Feature

DSC_0002I am super excited to start featuring an amazing group of nurses from around the world.  I have always loved to travel and explore.  In my own travels, I have met some truly inspiring people.  For any adventure seeking nurses out there, this is a post for you.  Today’s feature is a nurse that has made her way around the U.S. and is now living and working in the U.K.  She proves that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.  If you’re contemplating working as a traveler, here is your inspiration.Meet Tonya.  She is a neonatal nurse originally from the U.S.  She started working as a travel nurse,making her way from Florida to California, and has been since somewhat rooted in London, England.  Her next adventure leads her to Belgium.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Florida.  I did my training in Gainesville at Santa Fe College and my first job was at Shand’s Hospital at the University of Florida.

In what area of nursing do you work? 

I’m currently working in Neonatal ICU, but have previously worked in PICU (Pediatric ICU) and PCICU (Pediatric Cardiac ICU).

How long have you been a nurse? 

14 years

What inspired you to become a nurse?

When I was in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with Lymphoma. I visited her in the hospital and saw the nurses caring for her.  I was inspired by their compassionate and caring nature.

What advice would you give a new nurse? 

#1  And most important!

Take time to renew and recharge yourself. Our jobs are stressful and heart breaking and no one really prepares you for life as a nurse. Have nursing friends (because they will always understand and be able to commiserate), but have non nursing friends too (because they will keep you sane and stop you from talking about work so much).

#2  

Don’t let old tired nurses get you down or pick on you, tell them where to shove it! We eat our young in this profession and I don’t know why. Find experienced nurses that you trust and feel comfortable asking for advice and guidance.  They are there in your unit and are more than happy to pass on their knowledge.  And just ignore the grumpy bitches that are always complaining.

#3  

Drink Wine!!

What advice would you give a tired nurse?

Take a break because you’re not doing anyone any good by hanging around and possibly making mistakes.  Back to my advice for new nurses, take time to renew and recharge.  Patient safety is always our priority and we make mistakes when we are tired and run down.

How did you end up in London?

So England happened by chance. I met my friend Kate in Boston. She had done her registration for Australia and I had been looking into going to the UK. I kind of talked her into traveling over with me. So we did all the paperwork to get registered in the UK and found the travel company to sponsor us, and the rest is history.

What are some big differences between working in the U.S. and England?

I can’t really remember the differences, it’s been a long time since I’ve worked in the US.  As far as NICU is concerned I think taking care of the babies is the same. The nurse responsibilities and doctors responsibilities are different.  The doctors draw blood and start all the IVs and Picc/Long lines. It’s a different kind of work load. They do weird things like hourly feeds and nurses are responsible for cleaning. It is just all a little different from home.  It’s the equipment and processes that are different. The most annoying thing is working within a public system. At home we are used to efficiency and organization.  It just seems to take so much time to get anything done here.  I do have to say that the follow up care here is excellent. Our unit has an outreach team that follows the babies home which sometimes allows them to go home earlier.  There are also Health Visitors that follow a newborn from birth to 5 years old, so the hospital system is frustrating but the community services are great.

Where to Next?

My next move is to Belgium, for my fiancé’s new job.  I have to learn the language first, but may eventually look into working there.

 

 

Thank you so much, Tonya, for contributing!!  Looking forward to sharing our next feature, a nurse on a mission in the Philippines.  Thanks for taking the time to read!!  Now for some wine ❤

Observations of a Homesick Expat or Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving to Another Country

FullSizeRender-21I moved overseas for love.  My boyfriend was born in the far northern reaches of Sweden, as far as nearly The Arctic Circle and frequent host to the Aurora Borealis.  When I approached the idea of moving there, it felt like such an adventure-the adventure of a lifetime.  I was moving to one of the world’s most progressive, innovative, and environmentally aware countries on the planet.

I’ve always embraced new endeavors with intense determination and childlike excitement.  It’s just who I am.  Moving to another country has tested the limits of these qualities and while I’m still standing, still determined, it has been no walk in the park.  It tests who you are at the very core.  I’ve read endless articles on life as an expat, have bonded for life with expats and natives alike, and found there is a common path one winds down in the process of integration.

There Truly is a Honeymoon Period

Every possible thing about your new country is perfect.  It’s like a scene from Travel Channel and you’re the host.
You’re enthusiastic about learning the language, trying the foods, embracing the customs.

You Wonder Why They Can’t Just Do Things Like They Do Back Home??

As weeks turn into months and you try to settle in to your new life, frustration ensues.  You have to take a number and get in line for everything, even at the doctor’s office.  The only number you take at home is in line at the deli at Publix.  You don’t understand why any decision in Sweden requires a group meeting of intense discussion and counter discussion even if it’s something as simple as what to eat.

Longing for Familiar Makes You Eat and Do the Strangest Things

You find yourself standing in line and paying the equivalent of $20 for a measly pancake breakfast at one of the only breakfast places in town.  Said pancakes are delicious and worth every penny as they temporarily fill the void in longing for home. The ethnic section in the grocery store now applies to you.  You consider buying that jar of marshmallow creme (that you haven’t eaten since you were seven) in the American section.

You Become an Ambassador for Your Country

You now (reluctantly) represent your country everywhere you go.  You are known as “the American” and with it comes all the clichés and assumptions.  You hope to leave a positive image of Americans and disprove the cliché that we are all loud, lazy, know it alls.

No One Else Cares That it’s Thanksgiving

That special, warm feeling you get when you wake up on Thanksgiving in anticipation of your mom’s delicious stuffing and the annual Macy’s Day Parade?  You’re the only one that feels it.  It’s just another Thursday in Sweden.

You Become a Smuggler

You start filling your suitcase with your favorite shampoo, skin care line, even canned pumpkin and turkey bags while home because it either costs twice as much in Sweden or you think you won’t find it there at all.  Your closet starts to look like a mini super market.

You eventually Find the Replacements

Your first year you talk your mother into shipping two cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce bearing in mind that it has now cost her at least ten times the amount in shipping.  Must have the cranberry sauce!  Your second year you opt for lingonberry jam and are pleasantly surprised that it is actually as good if not better.

You Begin to Feel at Home

You start understanding and speaking the language more and more.  You find your tribe of people and they become your parallel family.  You begin to add Swedish traditions and customs into your own life.

You Wonder Why Can’t They Do Things That Way Back Home???

After about a year you start criticizing your own country.  You find chaos when waiting in line and wonder why they don’t have a number system.  You notice everyone is in a hurry, stressed and all you want to do is fika.  You are the one who now initiates intense group discussions before making any decision.

You Smuggle the Other Way

You start bringing home coffee, bread, cookies, and other Swedish staples.  Family and friends  demand said items on every future return.

You Learn to Embrace the Best of Both Worlds

You grow with leaps and bounds, often unknowingly and reluctantly.  You learn that people are the same wherever you go.  You learn to embrace new traditions, foods, ways of thinking and add them to who you are.  You crave cured salmon, sandwich cake, and long Sunday drives in the beautiful Swedish country side.  Your expat friends anticipate your annual Thanksgiving dinners.

You still long for home every day in your heart

You go home to remember who you are, where you come from.  You long for a taco salad at Taco Shack, Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels, and Sunday night Walking Dead marathons with your sisters.  While you love your adopted country and all that living there has taught you, you know deep down in your heart there’s no place like home.

 

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