Getting to the heart of travel healthcare.

A podcast hosted by Sunny & Matt

Podcast Transcript


Natasha Stevens, RN, joins the Cardium podcast to talk about making travel nursing a family affair with her husband, two kids, and an RV.

Travel Nursing: A Family Affair

December 23, 2019


Voice Over: Welcome to Cardium from Aureus Medical, the podcast that gets to the heart of travel healthcare and asks, "What's your why?" With each episode we explore the topics and issues that impact healthcare professionals in the fields of nursing and allied health. Now here are your hosts, Sunny and Matt.

Sunny: Welcome to another episode of Cardium. If you're a subscriber, welcome back, and thank you for being a part of the Cardium family. If you're a new listener, thanks for stopping by and we hope you enjoy the podcast. We would love for you to subscribe so you can enjoy future podcasts. Joining me today is my cohost, my main squeeze, okay, outside of my husband, Matt Neel.

Matt: Hey Sunny.

Sunny: Hi.

Matt: How are you?

Sunny: I'm good. How are you?

Matt: I'm doing really well. Thank you.

Sunny: Thanks. Well, I'm excited because this podcast talks about children and traveling with children. You and I, we travel. We talked about vacations in the past.

Matt: We have. Yep.

Sunny: Little different realm though. We're talking about traveling with children. When they're younger, it's a little bit different beast. I know as a mom I think about it differently. I don't know about you. I go all hardcore. I have Tupperware and I travel like snacks and travel games and blankets in the car, Dramamine for the kids that throw up, first aid kits for the boo boo. I don't know. What's your-

Matt: Yeah. I think we're thinking of the same things as we think about our vacations. The difference I think when you start talking about our guest today is our vacations are a week, give or take. It's a full blitz for the vacation for the week and then you're home and you've got all your supplies for your boo boos, as you'd mentioned. It's a different animal than looking at a contract assignment where you're going to be gone for months maybe even years with your kids. That's a totally different animal. We love the vacations, but you know there's a short-term end to that.

Sunny: Yes.

Matt: Traveling long-term as a healthcare professional, that's a different animal.

Sunny: Yes. It is. I can't imagine, so I'm really, really excited to get into this. Our guest today is Natasha Stevens. Welcome, Natasha.

Natasha: Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Sunny: Well, we're excited to have you. Natasha Stevens is a registered nurse who has been practicing since 2012 and has traveled since 2016. Prior to her RN career, she spent seven years as a CNA. Her specialties include step-down, telemetry, and med-surg. She's currently on assignment in Waco, Texas. Natasha travels from assignment to assignment with her husband and two children. Thank you again for joining us, Natasha. I have to ask the mom question first. How old are your children?

Natasha: My daughter, Isabella, is 12 and my son, William, is nine.

Sunny: Fun ages. When I think about that I'm like, school ages. Why travel when they're in school?

Natasha: Really, why not? When we first started talking about the idea of traveling it kind of goes back to early 2015. We decided to move across country. I'm originally from Iowa. My husband's from Omaha, Nebraska. Whenever we've done family vacations it's really been within driving distance. If you could make it there in a car, that's what you go and you see. We got really excited about the possibility of going out to the West Coast. I've got some friends and family out there. I went out with my mother-in-law and my kiddos and just fell in love.

Natasha: We went out to Portland. It's beautiful. It's green. You smell the earth. It was just fabulous, so we decided to move across country. Although we loved living out there, it wasn't a success for us. First off, it's really expensive and I didn't make the kind of money I thought I was going to be making as a staff nurse out there. Once we were out there we were kind of stuck. If we had to save up for anything it was really going to be plane tickets back home. Vacations were a thing of the past.

Natasha: You just kind of fall into that rat race. It wasn't for us. It's not what we wanted to do. That wasn't our goal. I've come across lots and lots of nurses in my career and I knew a lot of them, younger ones that were getting into traveling. I kind of thought, "Well, what if we start looking into that?" There's no rule that says you have to be a young new grad in order to travel. But we decided to move back to Omaha because we were very unhappy. That's actually when I dipped my toe into travel nursing, so to speak. We didn't want the stress of trying to find a house and trying to find school for the kids and trying to find two jobs because my husband was working as well.

Natasha: That was just really overwhelming. I called a bunch of agencies and I just took a local contract in Lincoln, Nebraska, so it was an hour commute which I was already doing in Portland. So that was no big deal. That's when we really started dabbling in the idea of, hey, I think we can do this as a family. I love travel nursing. We love exploring. Let's look into it and see how we can make this a reality.

Sunny: Yeah. That's awesome and it's very unconventional.

Matt: Very unconventional. You made the decision when your kids were in school, so that in itself is a big challenge. But you're living the life. When you think about all the challenges that are out there, not only what you had to side with but what you're dealing with today as far as challenges and having your kids with you, what are your biggest challenges, Natasha?

Natasha: The biggest challenges was trying to figure it all out really. Your kids have their community. We had friends and family there in Omaha. They had their friends. So it was trying to keep that community while being on the road. And then of course with kids it's, well, how do they continue their education? How do I make sure that they're prospering, that they're growing and that we're not damaging our children by taking them on the road and living kind of unconventionally? But I think that those are fears that you have as a parent in general. I mean you don't want to make a mistake.

Natasha: You don't want to mess up your kids. We did a lot of research before we pulled the trigger. I wanted to make sure that travel nursing was definitely a career path that I wanted and that would make me happy because if Mom ain't happy, nobody's happy. But then we started researching. Okay, if we're traveling we're probably going to have to homeschool the kids because it doesn't make sense to have them change schools every three months. I've met a few people who maybe get longer assignments and only change maybe every six months, so then kids are only changing schools once a year.

Natasha: But that still didn't appeal to us. We wanted the consistency for the kids. Then the other aspect was trying to figure out, well, how are we as a family of four going to move from location to location? That's where the wonderful world of YouTube really helped us out. We started researching just families who travel and that's when the idea of the RV kind of popped into our heads. Okay, we can have a physical residence that we take from place to place. We can get the homeschool setup so that the kids have their education no matter where we go. We just go from there. So that was kind of our transition period, but it was probably eight months or more of planning before we hit the road.

Matt: Isn't that interesting? Eight months of planning. You've got the resources of YouTube and probably a lot of different communities on YouTube that you need to do the research. I can only think of the research that we do when just we're doing a week-long vacation.

Sunny: Exactly.

Matt: When you decide to move with your family, that's a lot. That is not a small task. Eight months before you decide to pull the trigger, that's great.

Sunny: I think that's amazing too because you talked about the community that you have, social media, because I'm thinking about I have much older kids. Mine are college age and so back then probably wouldn't have the resources or the network that you have now being in the digital age. You can literally reach out and touch someone and have a network handy for you. I think that is kind of a different world.

Sunny: Speaking about going and taking your kids, I think of my childhood, being a military brat and picking up and moving. Still, you're moving a lot more often. But I think about having to pick up and change schools and friends and having to leave them. Growing up, it was just a thing you did. I might see them at a different base or a different country. I may not have. It was just a way of life. It was just the way you did things. How is that with your kids and having to adapt with friendships?

Natasha: Initially it was a bit of a learning curve. Our first assignment was in Fargo, North Dakota. We were probably 45 minutes away from town, so we were out in the country. We got into the RV life. That's how we decided to travel as a family. The RV park that we were staying at didn't have a lot of other kids aside from what we call the weekenders. Those are the folks who camp for fun who come out on the weekend. They're able to make friends with kids and have somebody to play with on the weekends, but then those folks go home and they never see them again.

Natasha: That's when we really started reaching out into other resources. One of our biggest resources is just churches. We're a Christian family. Church was always a place for us to come together for community, to build friendships. So getting out and exploring the local churches was a really great way for the kids to have somebody that they can see every week when Mom's not working and build some relationships. The other things that we started doing was also reaching out to other RV communities that travel with families. The first community we joined is one called Full-time Families and going to different RV rallies that these organizations hold.

Natasha: Our first rally was really overwhelming. It was 70 families, so nearly 300 people. It was crazy. Lots of activities, but oh my gosh. My kids made some fabulous friends, some great relationships. They can even keep in contact with those folks on Facebook Messenger now, Facebook Kids. So that-

Sunny: I think that's amazing. That's amazing. I think about how worldly your kids are and how probably more adjusted your kids are going to be than probably a lot of kids. So I think that's admirable in how the effort ... And I hope they appreciate the work that Mom is doing. I hope they're hearing me.

Matt: Always the mom, Sunny. Always the mom.

Natasha: We recently got involved with a new RV community called Road Life Project. They have a specific group for kids called Digital Pen Pals which takes the social media aspect to a whole new level for children. They have their own digital pen pal club website that kids can go into. It's totally monitored. The adults who volunteer for that organization have been vetted and have had their background checks done. So it's a very safe environment.

Sunny: That's cool.

Natasha: I actually volunteer with Digital Pen Pals. They have weekly activities. So they might have open chat. They might have craft time. A new one is their Digital STEM. They have story time, all these different activities. But it's great because you see these kids come in and they're doing video interviews or video conferences with each other so they can meet new kids that way or they can see their friends Monday through Friday and build those relationships and then have activities to keep them engaged and help them to learn and have fun and just be kids. So I kind of view it as a PTA.

Natasha: I was involved in my kids' PTA. I volunteered for that and I had a lot of fun. This way I'm reaching kids who might be out in California or out in Florida or back home in Nebraska, just kids all throughout the country. Yeah. Our children, they're meeting so many people from different backgrounds, in different cultures and different beliefs, and they're finding that common ground and finding that they can meet all of these people and have great relationships. With them. I feel like they're more cultured and more open-minded when it comes to that.

Sunny: That's awesome. You're providing not only useful information for parents that travel with children, but also parents in general in this world that can be really unsafe. So thank you for that. Great tips.

Natasha: Absolutely.

Matt: Yeah. The world certainly is a smaller place for you guys. I think you're taking advantage of the technology around there to keep all the friends close. Natasha, you had mentioned earlier about your kids are obviously school age, so what you are going to do with their education and how that was going to look and how that was going to be conducted there with your small family of four. Can you tell us a little bit about what you guys do for education? Obviously you're homeschooling. Who does the educating? Who is the teacher, how that works and how the kids have thrived in that environment?

Natasha: Yes. Our first couple of years out we did a textbook-based program called My Father's World. One of the challenges with RV travel is Internet connection. It's really taken us a while to get that figured out. Even though we have a solution, it's not always 100% reliable. So we decided to go with the textbooks just because it made sense. It was something that we could count on. It was something that was easy. My husband primarily does a lot of the homeschooling because he's at home with the children. We try and save my days off for fun days to go out and explore, just to have family time and not really have those chores, those to-do list things that you have to do every day.

Natasha: We were really, really concerned about that when we first started out. My husband loves his children, but he's not a kid person. So he did not think that he was going to be successful as their teacher. But he surprisingly has more patience with them than I do. He's really come into his own and he's really been a fantastic teacher. He's a funny guy. He uses comedy a lot, just the way he is. So he brings a different perspective where I'm more black and white. He's more that gray area. So I think it's really important for the kids to have those different perspectives and to help them learn.

Natasha: But now that we've been on the road for a couple years, we feel like we got the homeschool thing down. We feel like we're in a rhythm. We decided to change it up. This year we're trying something called Easy Peasy. What it is, it's a collaboration of homeschool resources that a mom had put together for her children and basically just put it out there on the Internet for other folks to use. She must be very organized because it's literally from kindergarten to high school. But the kids have more autonomy. They can log in. They can do their modules at their own pace. It's got more fun, interactive games that they really enjoy and that also help them to learn.

Natasha: And then it kind of frees up us so that we can work on other things, like our YouTube videos or the honey do list. Or it gives my husband some free time to maybe look into some part-time work if that's something that he wants to do. So it's got a little tweaks. We do have to do some supplementation with math and maybe a little bit with science, but overall we're really satisfied with that. That's the beauty of homeschooling is if you try something, you don't like it, you don't have to keep going with it. You just try something else.

Matt: I love that. I love the fact that you guys are taking advantage of the community within homeschooling and you're making it work given the technology that you're surrounded with and that you're always open to making sure your kids have the best that they can given your situation. That doesn't have to be a detriment to them. It can actually be an advantage. It's nice that your husband is able to bring that perspective change. You're black and white, he's not. What a great life. What a great story they'll be able to tell their own children.

Natasha: Yes. Definitely.

Sunny: I love that you guys are learning so much about each other in this journey too, like what your strengths are, what you're finding out about each other and what your roles are within this relationship. That's amazing. So it's kind of like a school of life for everyone.

Natasha: Definitely. Definitely. Because I mean at the end of the day we are all that we have. Yes, we have folks out in our community and yes we have folks via the digital age or the world wide web that we can reach out and connect with. But when it comes down to it, we have to rely on each other. This has really helped us grow as individuals and grow stronger and grow closer as a family.

Sunny: That's awesome. One of the things moms and dads, parents, we have to have our time together away from the kids. That can be hard when you're traveling and it's just you guys. For those that are thinking about doing this in the future or considering that right now or maybe they are doing that right now and they're like, "I don't know how to get us time," how do you and your husband get your time away from the kids? What's a date night look like?

Natasha: That's so challenging. We do a couple of things. The biggest opportunity we have is just when the kids go to bed. They go to bed. We have doors, well, doors to my son's room. My daughter's in a loft. She's got a curtain. We have a door to our room. So I mean everybody has their own privacy. But they go to bed and we can just turn on a movie, turn on Netflix, and just relax and hang out together. The kids are getting older now and they're getting a little bit more responsible, so we have done little mini excursions where we may have left them home for an hour or two if ... I'll interject, so long as we're in a park where we trust the individuals we're around.

Natasha: Our last RV park we were at, the folks right next door were another traveling family and we hung out together. We talked together. We were both stationary. So we had that level of trust there. So we were able to reach out to them and say, "Hey, we're going to step out," just in case the kids need anything. Then of course we have the Facebook Messenger with the kids, so we can message them and check in with them when we're not there. But we did a mini excursion when we were in Connecticut and went out to dinner for our anniversary. But honestly, most of the time we just incorporate the kids for a date night. And then it's not a date night, it's a family date night and we have fun that way.

Natasha: But we also know some other families that travel that if they're in a campground or in an area where there's other families they might reach out and say, "Hey. You got a teenager that wants to make some babysitting money?" They'll do that. Or again, church or other community organizations, reaching out for those other reliable teenagers. They're great resources. Some folks have even used and hired a babysitter that way. So there's ways of making it happen. You just have to be a little bit more clever.

Sunny: Got it. Got it. That's good advice.

Matt: Some of the listeners that might be thinking about making this move with their family or know somebody that's looking to make a move with their family, bring their family on the road, probably one of the obvious questions they have are what are the benefits that you see, you wake up every day and you say, "I am so glad that we made this decision of bringing our kids along with this journey?" If you could tell our audience a little bit about the benefits of traveling with your children and getting them to experience some of the adventure that traveling can be.

Matt: It's not all easy. Obviously there's a lot of work involved for you guys. But what are the benefits of traveling with your kids?

Natasha: I think the biggest benefit is just being able to go different places and see new things. In the two and a half years that we've been traveling, my children have seen more places and had more experiences than I had in my whole existence, my whole 37 years of life. And then you don't have to work to save up for vacation and have that vacation fund because for us each new assignment is like a vacation. It's a new place. It's something different to explore. You get to dive into the local life and meet the people and see how they live every single day and try the different cuisines and go out and see those people in their communities.

Natasha: Just the kids are learning not to put themselves into a box. They're really learning to open their horizons and take life by the horns. The world is their oyster at this point. We're really just kind of opening their eyes to that by being able to travel.

Matt: I think there's such a value there, such a different life. I think it just adds a whole new perspective. Your kids are, like Sunny said, going to be worldly.

Sunny: Yeah. They definitely are. When you talk about your kids being with you and they have a unique perspective. I think of my dad and being military brat and knowing what he was doing. Your kids are with you. They know that when you're picking up and leaving it's because Mom has an assignment and Mom is being asked to do something. Mom is being asked to go to hospital or Mom's being asked to help somewhere. Do they realize or do they see you as an everyday hero? Do they know that?

Natasha: We were talking about this the other day in the car. My kids were telling me they think it's cool to have a nurse as a mom because I can go out and I can heal people. I can make people better. That's really something special that they see that it's not just a job. I'm not just punching a clock. I'm not just earning a paycheck, but doing more. I'm helping my fellow man. They see that. They really do.

Sunny: Yeah. Because you're like Superman except that your RV's the phone booth.

Matt: That's hilarious. I love that.

Sunny: Because you're jumping in and going to your next destination and your kids are right there with you and they get to experience that and I just think that's amazing. Kids, if you hear me, you've got a hero that you're traveling with every single day. So be proud of her.

Natasha: Thank you.

Sunny: You're welcome. Thank you.

Matt: Natasha, we could probably ask you a million questions. You're a busy lady, for sure. If you had to describe some of the tricks of the trade when it comes to making a decision to travel with your family, can you rattle off a few things that you said, "Boy, if I ever had to advise anybody these are the things I would say you've got to do this, one through five or one through three or whatever, no matter what, you've got to do this?"

Natasha: Planning. Planning is the big one. You can't just jump into it without having a plan. I think that's just part of adulthood and stability and security in one's life. As a caretaker of someone that I'm responsible for as my children, I want to make sure that we have everything planned out so that we're ready for the challenges on the road. Part of that plan is having a security blanket. We have learned that things are going to go wrong, whether something breaks with our vehicle or something breaks on the RV or, knock on wood, I haven't had this happen yet but if something goes wrong with the contract or it falls through, then you're stuck.

Natasha: You have to have an emergency fund in your savings account before you venture off just to be safe. I think the first part is definitely planning schooling, what are you going to do? How is that going to look like? There are literally hundreds if not thousands of homeschool resources online. Check out, I believe it's H-L-S-D-A. I can't think of the name of it off the top of my head.

Matt: We'll post that on our Facebook page too.

Natasha: Okay. If you go online and you start researching homeschool coalition, there is a specific resource that you can type for each individual state that has the different regulations and laws for that state for homeschooling because every state is different. For us, we looked at moving our domicile or our home state to Texas because they virtually have no home school laws, no hours you have to log in, nothing you have to turn in. They're really friendly as far as traveling with healthcare and their vehicle registration process is very minimal and they don't have state tax. So that was pretty easy for us, an easy decision.

Natasha: Again, planning how you want to experience this on the road. If you're not sure about travel nursing, what I always tell new families is take one contract. Take it in the summertime right when the kids are out of school. Take a 13-week contract. That'll take up your summer. Go somewhere fun that you would never dream of going. Go to Alaska. Go to Hawaii. Go to Florida. Go somewhere fun. Do an Airbnb, whatever.

Sunny: Make it a true working vacation.

Natasha: Just see if you like travel nursing. See if you like traveling with your family. See if this is it for you. Don't jump into an RV. Don't jump into these big purchases unless you know for sure. That's definitely one I would recommend.

Sunny: What are some of the situations that have gone wrong? Because stuff does happen. It's not always rose-colored glasses, everything's beautiful and butterflies are flying around. But stuff happens, so what are some situations that went wrong? We want to hear about that too. And then how do you get through that and stay positive?

Natasha: Sure. I think one of the biggest situations we came across in our traveling was actually had to do with one of our assignments as far as my license. I had put off changing my nursing license from the state of Nebraska to the state of Texas when I moved my domicile to that state. It didn't catch up to me until about nine months later when another state that was not compact was verifying my other states. They're like, "Wait a minute. Your address and your license don't match." So I had to put a rush on and finally cracked down and moved things. That delayed the start of my next contract.

Natasha: So normally we take about two weeks off in between our contracts to sightsee or to get from point A to point B and relax. This one we had about a month.

Sunny: Oh my gosh.

Natasha: So it was a little pinching the pocketbook. It was definitely stressful, but it worked out. We got the job. We were able to start later. All's well that ends well. We've also had lots of issues with our vehicle on the road, in particular just coming in from Connecticut. We made a trip from Connecticut back to Iowa and Nebraska to see family before coming down to Waco, Texas. Before we started, we had a flat tire that the dealer had supposedly fixed when we had it in a shop a month ago. We took it in there. They fixed it free of charge, sent us on our way.

Natasha: Then the following day or it was another day and a half, we had a good Samaritan flag us down, tell us to pull over. That same wheel that we had serviced, the lug nuts were wearing thin. We had four of them snap off in my husband's hands.

Matt: Wow.

Natasha: Yeah. Yeah. That was actually probably one of the most stressful days we've ever had traveling. It was on a Friday night. It was at 4:30 in the afternoon, so things were about to close. We needed a tow for our truck. We needed a tow for the RV, and we were out in the middle of nowhere in Indiana. Luckily, we called 911 so we could talk to the sheriff's department. We were just going to park on the side of the road and figure it out in the morning. The sheriff said, "Wait a minute. Let me call this guy I know." A tow service, Robinson's Wreckers outside of New Haven, Indiana-

Matt: That's a plug to Robinson's Wreckers.

Natasha: Absolutely. He came and towed us with his personal vehicle. He towed our RV with his personal vehicle to his wrecker service that also had an auto body shop. He let us stay there in the RV. He supplied us with power so we at least had a safe place to stay for the night. He left us his vehicle so we could go into town and get food and get some water so we could wash our hands and flush our toilets. He was amazing.

Sunny: That's awesome.

Natasha: And then they towed our truck with the flatbed to their station as well. So what was an hour of getting nowhere on phone calls, getting nowhere with the tow service, one call to the local law enforcement and they had us all fixed up. The gentleman put on two new wheel wells. It was a big chunk of money later, but we had the emergency fund. That's what it's for, and got us back on our way. But that wasn't the end of our woes. Then when we got to Iowa the following day, we had noticed that our trailer brakes weren't working. We were okay because it's the Midwest. We're not towing in the mountains.

Natasha: We have an engine brake on our truck. So we're like, okay, we can get to where we need to go. Once we parked in Iowa, we looked back by our tires thinking, "What's gone wrong?" We saw something called a shackle hanger that had busted off of our leaf spring that we didn't even know about. When did that happen? So as we're visiting my mom, we're calling around for shops in little Fort Dodge, Iowa, to try and replace that. Luckily we found one. We limped it into town and he was able to get that fixed. He said he'd found a wire that was frayed and spliced it, but we still had no trailer brakes.

Sunny: Oh my gosh.

Natasha: We're like, "Okay, we're on a timeline. We got to go." So we went to Omaha so we could visit my husband's family. And then a check engine light comes on the truck.

Matt: Good grief.

Natasha: Again, it was a wire issue. We took it into Woodhouse and they were able to fix that, diagnose it and fix it for us in a day. Then luckily, leaving Omaha and getting to Texas we had no more big issues. But it was just a comedy of errors, one thing after another.

Sunny: So you're saying things happen.

Natasha: Yes. Yes. I mean in the moment, it's catastrophe. You go into fight or flight. What is happening? Are we making the right decision? This is insanity. But then you get your bearings. You say a few prayers because honestly without our Lord looking out for us I don't know where we would be. We get through it. We work together and we try not to lose our cool with one another. We figure it out. We always say this. No matter what has happened, whether it's been with nursing licenses or contracts or vehicle issues, it's all worked out in the end. It always works out. In fact, I have one more for you.

Matt: It sounds like it really has for you guys.

Natasha: When we were leaving our contract last October in Minnesota, we were still scrambling to find a new contract. Now we were getting a little picky at this point and we wanted New Orleans. We couldn't find a contract there. So the last day of my contract in October we just hitched up and we headed south. We said, "Okay. I don't have a job yet." But it's getting cold in October. In fact, it was snowing the day we left. We said, "We're just heading south. Something will come up. We'll get a job eventually whether we go straight south or east, west, it doesn't matter. We're going to go south." Stopped and saw family, kept on going.

Natasha: I think it wasn't until we hit Oklahoma City that I finally got a call, got the job offer we were looking for. Like I said, it worked out. It always works out. You just have to have some patience and a little faith and it works in the end.

Sunny: I think a little gumption too because apparently you have a lot of that.

Natasha: Yeah. That couldn't hurt.

Matt: So Natasha, you guys have had a lot of adventures. The travel life as a traveling healthcare professional, you do go through the times of where you're needing contracts and where's my next gig? Where am I going to go? What floor am I going to be working on? Which new group of people am I going to meet? I mean that has a whole set of challenges itself. But on the flip side of that when you start to think about all the memories you guys have made since you started traveling on the road, what are some of your most memorable positive experiences you've had as a family through this travel adventure that you're on?

Natasha: Yes. One of the big ones that always comes up whenever we have this conversation at home is venturing to the Black Hills, getting to see Mount Rushmore. I don't know. There is just something about being up in those mountains and being in those trees and being amongst that history. It's powerful. It's overwhelming. We got to experience that as well as Crazy Horse. My son, who's nine years old, he once said that that was his favorite experience that we've had traveling because Crazy Horse is still under construction. He says he can't wait until he's older and he takes his kids there to see how far along construction has come and to tell them, "Well, when I was your age only this part was finished." I just thought that was very profound coming out of my nine-year-old child.

Sunny: That's awesome.

Matt: That's great.

Natasha: We've also been to the coast of North Carolina, out to the Outer Banks and got to go to Kitty Hawk and see where the Wright Brothers completed their first flight. It's really cool because they have these big giant stone markers at each spot of the individual flights. So you could see how far the first plane went compared to the second and the third and just put your feet on the ground and experience that history and really feel what those brothers must have felt at that time. That was amazing.

Natasha: Probably number three I would say was San Antonio and experiencing the missions that were there. Of course when you think of San Antonio, you think of the Alamo. But San Antonio actually has about five missions that were all kind of strung together. That was kind of the beginnings of what later became San Antonio. But they have a really cool bike trail. So we decided to bike the entire mission trail starting at the beginning and ending all the way at the end of the Alamo. So getting to, again, see that history and see how those individuals lived and really understand how difficult it was to get from point A to point B back then when they didn't have the technology.

Natasha: They didn't have all of the creature comforts that we have, and getting to do that in a day and with the family. I mean that was a wonderful memory.

Sunny: And it's living history. It's stuff that they're going to remember. They're going to remember it better than a book.

Natasha: Absolutely.

Sunny: Or a teacher in front of them making them study it out of a textbook. They're actually experiencing it and having a kinesthetic experience. That's what's going to imprint on them and they're going to remember that so much more and also because they're going to have that personal touch because I did it with my family. So when you add that plus the historical lesson on top of it, it just means so much more.

Natasha: Definitely.

Matt: Those are great memories. Those are great memories for you four and the memories just keep on rolling.

Natasha: Absolutely.

Matt: This is fantastic.

Sunny: Kind of switching gears a little bit and talking about you as a traveler on the road, tell me a little bit about how you continue to grow your skills on the road as a traveler as a nurse. Because you've been able to accomplish some amazing things that not every traveler can, so I want you to touch a little bit about that or how, I should say.

Natasha: I think the biggest thing for me has learned to be open. In the beginning, it's really hard to let go of what you've been comfortable with. You're going to go to a facility and they're going to do it differently. That's just how it's going to be. Instead of, "Well, I'm used to them doing it like this at xyz hospital or really? Because at abc we do it this way." You just got to let it go and be like, "Okay. That's how y'all do it. Show me the way and I will do it your way." That really helps you grow and learn that, yes, nursing is the same no matter where you go, but there's things that they do a little bit differently.

Natasha: I've also learned to jump out of my comfort zone. I'm actually very shy-natured. I don't know if you could tell. But I've really learned to hop out of that shell and put myself out there because that's the only way you're going to meet people and build those relationships. It's the same with being a nurse. They don't know what you know so you have to put yourself out there. If you're on a unit that you've never been before or if you're seeing procedures that you've never seen before, don't be afraid to take that patient on so that you can learn or talk to your nurse buddies, "You've got that cool procedure. Can I come in and check it out?"

Natasha: Of course, the hospitals are great. They have fabulous resources. They have their policies and procedures and things like that online. So if you can find the time in your day, just hop online and see what they do, see how they do it. Like I said, just don't be afraid to ask. The worst they're going to say is no. "No, you can't do this procedure. You haven't been checked off." Yeah.

Sunny: Because you continued your growth and learning, you don't like to brag but you've been a ... And I'm going to lead you down this flower type award. You've been a what?

Natasha: Yes, yes. As a traveler, I was nominated for a Daisy Award three times over.

Matt: Wow.

Sunny: Congratulations. That's amazing.

Natasha: Thank you. Thank you.

Matt: That is amazing.

Natasha: I kind of feel like it's almost cheating though because all three nominations were by different members of the same family for one particular patient. It's funny. I remember that patient like it was yesterday. She was an 84-year-old woman who had come in with end stage congestive heart failure. She was originally from I think this was in Minnesota. She was originally from the area but had moved on to Washington for ... She moved to Washington, but she would come back to Minnesota for the summers to visit her family. That's what she was doing. She was visiting while was there and that's when she got really, really sick.

Natasha: It came to the point where it was irreversible. I think the hardest part for me for her was the fact that she was of sound mind. She was all there, but her body was failing. I just remember sitting down and talking with her and expressing that, "I know it's hard. I can't imagine what you're going through, but this is what's happening to your body. How do you want to live the rest of the time that you have?" She was so sweet. We shed some tears together at the bedside. They decided to go to comfort care, but they had to wait for family to get in from Washington. I remember there was so many. She was surrounded by so many people, was so, so loved.

Natasha: Her room was just plum full. I just explained everything step by step what we were going to do and that we were going to do everything we could to make her comfortable so she didn't feel any pain, so she wasn't scared. Sorry.

Sunny: That's okay.

Natasha: I just remember when they decided to withdraw all of the measures that were keeping her alive at that point, all the family just gathered hands and they just started singing as we were turning all those things down. She'll remain with me until the day I die. She impacted me just as much as I impacted her and her family. I'm very grateful that I had that experience and I was able to have that as a traveler. It wasn't a staff position. It was out there exploring and meeting these new people all over the country. It doesn't matter that you're not at your home base. You can still be recognized for the hard work that you do and the love and the compassion that you have for people.

Matt: Thank you for sharing that, Natasha. That's pretty touching.

Sunny: Thank you.

Natasha: Absolutely.

Matt: We know you guys are busy. We're towards the end of our podcast now. Before we let you go, Sunny and I want to thank you for taking the time today. But before we let you go, we like to ask all of our guests a really simple question. Natasha, what is your why?

Natasha: It's why not really. I love adventure. This world is just way too big. You just have to get out and you have to explore it. There's friends out there I just have to meet. There's people out there I have to see and there's things I have to do. Why not do it while I'm young and healthy, while my family is young and healthy and while I have the time with my children before they grow and before they're gone? Let's just do it.

Sunny: Amazing.

Matt: That's a great why. Well, thank you again for joining us. Hopefully after you guys get a few more adventures under your belt down the road, maybe we can have you back.

Sunny: Yes.

Natasha: I would love that. I would love that. It's been fun.

Sunny: Yeah. And you make me want to go and get my kids and hop on an RV because I want to spend some time.

Natasha: Well, come on out. We got a pull-out couch. You're welcome.

Sunny: Okay. Great. I'm on my way.

Matt: She doesn't travel light, Natasha. Be careful what you wish for.

Sunny: I know. I do over pack.

Matt: Well, thank you again. Folks, that's going to wrap up today's podcast. We'd love to hear from you, so please leave us a review. Let us know your thoughts on today's topic or anything else you'd like to discuss. Sunny, until next time.

Sunny: Till next time. Thank you so very much.

Matt: We'll see you. Bye bye.

Sunny: Bye.

Voice Over: You've been listening to Cardium from Aureus Medical with your hosts, Sunny and Matt. We're the podcast that gets to the heart of travel healthcare. To subscribe, access show notes, or to learn more, visit C-A-R-D-I-U-M Or wherever you're listening, be sure to rate us, review, and subscribe. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time.

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