Getting to the heart of travel healthcare.

A podcast hosted by Sunny & Matt

Podcast Transcript


RNs Maggie Chapman and Nicole Brucker are guests on Cardium podcast to talk about traveling as a pair in healthcare.

Traveling in Pairs in Healthcare

September 18, 2019


Voice Over: Welcome to Cardium, 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 from Aureus Medical.

Sunny: Welcome to Cardium. If you're a subscriber, welcome back, thank you for being part of the Cardium family. If you're a new listener, thanks for stopping by. We hope you enjoy the podcast and we would love for you to subscribe so you can enjoy future podcasts.

Sunny: Hello, Matt. How's it going?

Matt: I'm good. I'm excited to be here.

Sunny: I'm excited to be here too. Well, Matt, I have a question for you.

Matt: Sure.

Sunny: Have you had a memorable vacation, like a road trip?

Matt: All the vacations have been memorable. One of the most recent ones was a trip with my family to South Dakota to Mount Rushmore, the classic family vacation. It was a lot of fun.

Sunny: And sometimes it can be tough being on a road trip.

Matt: Oh yeah. Our road trip, I think we did five days. So it was in the car for five days, and doing a lot of stuff, a lot of hiking, and seeing the sites, doing the typical touristy stuff. But I'll tell you, by the time we got back, we were worn out. Five days was a wear out, it was a lot of fun though.

Sunny: Well, can you imagine being on a road trip with the same people for 13 weeks?

Matt: I love my family, but 13 weeks, it would be a bit. Yeah. It'd be a bit much.

Sunny: Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine me with my family too. Well, today we will be discussing traveling pairs. And our guests today are Nicole Brucker and Maggie Chapman. And they will be discussing how it is to be traveling as a pair.

Sunny: Nicole Brucker is an RN with a background in cardiothoracic and lung transplant stepdown. Growing up in a military family, she's traveled for most of her life. She loves running, hiking, climbing, thrifting, and finding live music wherever she lands. Travel also means she gets to be a foodie, which she says is why she runs.

Sunny: Maggie Chapman is an RN with primarily CVICU and telemetry experience. She's three years into her nursing career, and she is currently on her second travel assignment in Portland, Maine with Nicole. She's Texas born and raised, and loves the outdoors.

Sunny: Maggie and Nicole, welcome to Cardium, the podcast that gets to the heart of healthcare travel. How did you get into travel, and how did you decide to travel together?

Maggie: So, I think we both wanted to do travel nursing from the get-go. We met in nursing school about four years ago. We always are not sure when the first time we met. But we were working out at the gym, and we just were talking about how we both wanted to travel eventually. And we thought, oh, how cool would it be if we traveled together. We could get our experience in and then hit the road. And then we ended up moving to Dallas, and two years after graduating, we started traveling together.

Nicole: Yeah. Actually of course we wanted to travel to Hawaii and you know, all the dreamy places. And we're over here in hot Texas in December. And we get a call saying, "Hey, do you guys want to go to Connecticut in the winter?"

Matt: Perfect. Perfect.

Nicole: I texted Maggie and I'm like, "Hey, do you want to go whale watching in January?" That's kind of how that all started.

Matt: I love it. So, you guys obviously have plans to continue to travel at least for a little bit in your career.

Nicole: Oh, yeah.

Matt: So, let's come to the end of an assignment. Where do you agree that you want to travel together? What's the deciding vote?

Nicole: Honestly, I feel like there really is no deciding vote. We just got really good experience. Our first travel assignment, we went to Yale, and then Maggie turned to me and she goes, "Hey, I've always had this burning desire to go to Maine in the summer." So I said, "Okay, let's go to Maine." We packed up our stuff and moved again. But I guess it's really, we just kind of tell each other where we want to go hiking, if we want to be warm or cold. And there really hasn't been a no yet. But yeah, we want to do this for quite a bit of time.

Sunny: That's pretty good.

Nicole: You know, until one of us settles down. But hopefully that doesn't happen soon.

Matt: Yeah, you have a lot of options out there. So if there's a bucket list of places, you could do this for quite a long time.

Nicole: Yeah.

Sunny: That's pretty good though that you haven't had a hard pass in saying, "Hey, no, I don't want to really go that route." So, there's not a lot of-

Maggie: Well, once we come to winter, we're getting out of the Northeast, we're like warmth for the winter. That's our number one goal.

Sunny: I am not tunneling out of my house.

Nicole: No. I've actually had to dig my car out at the tires with snow, because we didn't prepare for a shovel. So we were shoveling my car out in like, five feet of snow, in Connecticut.

Matt: Yeah, a little bit different than Dallas.

Sunny: Yes.

Nicole: All the snow that we get in Dallas.

Matt: Exactly.

Maggie: Total 180.

Sunny: Oh, well do you keep track of where you go? Like, keep some type of scrapbook or stickers? How do you keep track of where you go?

Maggie: Last assignment we printed off all our photos and made photo albums. So, we think it'd be a cool tradition to do that every assignment, and that way we have a physical copy of all of our memories. And it's always just random pictures of a meal we ate or a hike we took. And there's limited pictures of us because there's only two of us, so all of our pictures are selfies or random strangers and are terrible, one eye is cut out or it's Nicole and my arm. So it's mostly just random pictures of our adventures, but it's kind of sappy. But it makes me feel happy about all-

Matt: It's real, that's what it's about.

Sunny: Something that you'll remember, right?

Maggie: Exactly. Who knows if Facebook will be around for all my albums or whatever, so....

Sunny: Do you have any knickknacks though or anything in particular that you keep with you?

Nicole: As far as…I mean, we buy things. That’s where it gets us in trouble. Last assignment we were shoving things in my car but I mean we buy something, just like a little thing. But it's hard to get little knickknacks too, when we share a car. So we share a little Nissan Sentra. It's not even a crossover or a truck or anything like that. It's a little Nissan Sentra. And so we have very limited space in there.

Maggie: The last time we drove up here there was tiny, no room in the passenger seat. So Nicole is a little bit shorter than me, enough for me to say, okay, you get to sit there and I get to drive. And I decided to collect hats while we've been traveling. So Nicole had three hats on her head and my bridesmaids dress across her lap and she was all tucked into a little ball for six hours from Connecticut to Maine, so we're pretty jam packed in that little Sentra.

Sunny: I guess you had to do a lot of stretching when you got out of that car.

Nicole: The sad thing is I didn't, my feet went straight still. I'm so short.

Matt: So you guys are loving it and you're doing all sorts of fun stuff when you're not working. Are there times when you guys have conflict?

Nicole: Surprisingly, we really haven't had really any conflict. We balance each other out pretty well. I'm a morning person, she's a night person and we both speak our mind very easily so we know how to tell each other like, Hey, I'm going to the gym, I'm going to walk by myself to the gym, if you want to go to a coffee shop. So I mean, when we have our little irritations or we just need some time for ourself, we don't care about telling each other.

Maggie: We don't take it personally.

Nicole: No, we're together basically 24/7 and so she's literally my sister and I have no problem telling my younger sister how I feel. So that's been good so far.

Matt: Yeah, it sounds like you guys are very... the communication is key to that, it sounds like. Being together 24/7, you just have to be honest with each other. I'm going to the gym, you do what you got to do, but I'm going to walk to the gym or drive to the gym. It sounds like communication is the key with that.

Maggie: Absolutely. That's exactly how it pretty much goes down. And I think it also helps that we live similarly, when we work multiple shifts in a row, we're totally cool with the apartment being a little bit like a tornado hit it. A little messy. Then on our days off, we love to just like, spend a couple of hours cleaning up our mess. So, having the same living habits to makes it so much easier because I'm sure if I was super Type-A about that and she wasn't, it would bother me. But I think that most of the things…

Nicole: It helps a lot.

Nicole: In this shift, we have the same shifts, we share a car, we are actually together 24/7 so people think that we might kill each other but we actually complemented each other very well.

Sunny: Well tell me how-

Maggie: It's only made us stronger.

Sunny: Oh good, good. Tell me how it helps too, because I would imagine if you're going into a new environment as a traveler or even a new location. If you're doing it solo, that could put a lot of stress on you, but doing it together, I can imagine you can be each other's sounding board. Are there times where you're like, oh gosh you know, I'm really, really stressed out, or I had a really tough patient case, or maybe there might've been a conflict on the floor and you were able to help work it out where you didn't have to take it back to work. How does that help?

Nicole: Oh yeah, 100%. The good thing about having known each other a little bit is that we know how we deal with things, too. So for example, I know when Maggie gets stressed, she'll talk about it right away. But she knows that if I'm stressed, she just needs to give me like 20 minutes of, don't talk to me. And so there have been times, it's hard when you don't know anyone, especially in the nursing profession or another healthcare profession. Because it's stressful, it's hard. There are things that we see, there are things that we do that a lot of people just don't understand. So it's a little different. We used to vent to our parents, but they're people that just don't understand, either the terminology or they just don't understand how it is. So it's nice to have someone who's there that maybe actually saw or they've been through it before to just listen or give me actual advice that they know. So that's been helpful. And since we work on the same floor, this go-around, if there's something that she doesn't know, she usually just comes to me. It's just like, Hey, I don't know if this is a dumb question, but can you just come take a look at this? And that's kind of nice. Especially since we have different backgrounds, we can ask each other for help. So that's actually been one of the best things about traveling with not only a friend, but someone who knows what I go through every day.

Matt: That's a real advantage. It almost advantages you guys to travel as a pair to be able to have first person account of what would you do and help answer this question. So many travelers that we have spoke with in the past. When they're there by themselves, they don't have that sounding board. They're relying on the permanent personnel at the facility to be that sounding board. And that's hard to walk, even a foot in each other's shoes. So that's great for you guys. It really is a travel advantage to you.

Sunny: Yeah. It's like the buddy system.

Maggie: Exactly. We walk into work together and they're like, Oh here they are. Somehow always matching, too. I don't know how.

Sunny: Well, when two people travel, you got twice the load. You said you had a Nissan Sentra, so how do you decide what to take?

Nicole: Honestly, it was a really hard decision because my lease was ending too, so I was trying to pack up my lease at the time that I was throwing everything away. But...we came over to each other's apartments and thank God for our mothers. Angels. They helped us. They're like, okay, you guys are going in winter. You can fit maybe three suitcases in your car with everything else that you have. So I had one suitcase for all my clothes and then I had one suitcase for all my shoes. And then honestly, we got really lucky when we packed my car the morning of.

Nicole: The plan was for us to go home after every assignment to exchange clothes and that did not happen. So we actually bought stuff. But then we were able to go home and exchange clothes too. We changed some storage units. Changed from our parents’ house. And so we don't bring everything with us, we go for the seasons.

Sunny: That's smart. That is very smart. Having a storage unit, exchanging for the seasons and being girls, we got a lot of shoes. So you got to change your seasonal shoes, right?

Nicole: Exactly. I mean, my brown ones, my black ones, my boots, my sandals.

Sunny: Yeah. And you haven't been to Connecticut, you had to get some snow apparel, right?

Maggie: Oh yeah. I bought a parka. Snow boots. I showed up and it was 40 degrees in a parka, snow boots, a beanie, gloves. Definitely didn't fit in. I feel like I totally over-packed for the first assignment though, and I feel like even for this one I've over-packed so I'm really excited to go home and kind of…decrease how much stuff I have, because I don't use it all. Really, I feel like I wear three outfits in different combinations over and over again. I think downsizing is going to be nice for the next assignment. I feel like I over-packed.

Matt: Yeah, it really sounds like you guys are developing your system as you go and especially seasonality wise and where you go and all that stuff. It sounds like you're mastering that as the assignments start to pile up. So good for you. Kind of along those same lines, do you guys have rules between you, this isn't the unwritten or written rule of either what to pack or how to go about the looking at the future assignments or current assignments. Are there rules that you guys steadfast stick by?

Nicole: I would think…we really don't have a rule with packing. I think the biggest rule that we have is, we actually decided our first assignment, we said that every time we'd go out to eat or we'd go to a restaurant or we'd just go out in general, we always sit at the bar. And that's actually how we've met our good group of friends here that we hang out with, they were just sitting right next to us and they heard that we were traveling. And so we've become good friends with them and we just like talking so it's easier because we talk to each other all the time. Even though I love her, I already know, we can only tell each other so much. So everywhere we go we'll actually wait for a bar table they're like, Oh we have a four top over here. And we're like, no, can we set up the bar please? So it's an unwritten rule that we have between each other with all of our assignments.

Sunny: I think that's amazing because you really get to know the people because the people of the town tends to sit at the bar. Right. And so you get to know the culture. You get to meet a lot of friends, so you just never know who you're going to meet. So I think that's amazing.

Matt: And again, it sounds like you guys are making the most of your assignment. It's not about all that fun stuff, but making it the holistic approach to the assignment. It's great when you're at the facility or hospital you're at, you're meeting new people, you're experiencing new things, seeing different places, learning that you don't bring all the snow gear that you necessarily might think you need up to Connecticut. So yeah, you guys are learning. I love it. It's a great experience.

Sunny: So tell me, what is probably the most unique or best experiences that you can think of so far in your travels?

Maggie: I feel like some of our best experiences have happened on accident, which is I guess not surprising. Booking impromptu trips to New York and taking the train and public transit is new for us. So I think those memories are my favorite so far. Just the random things we've decided to do in each state.

Nicole: Yeah, I think when we went to New York, it was a night shift randomly and at 3:00 AM we're like, let's just go to New York tomorrow. We booked a train ticket and we left. We went home and packed and rushed to the train. And then for example, today we got off of a night shift. We slept, we are here with y'all now and then we're going to go drive to Baxter National Park and we're going to go hike Katahdin. Which is a mountain here. We're yes people, we like to do and we wing it. That's kind of our motto.

Sunny: We love to wing it. Yeah. And see what life presents you right?

Nicole: Yeah.

Sunny: That's awesome. Well, where do you want to go next?

Maggie: We've actually been debating this. Warmth, somewhere warm. I think Arizona would be so awesome. There's so much to do. The weather's really nice during the time that we would be leaving, but one of our best friends decided to travel nurse too, a little bit after us. She just got to Denver and so we're seeing if maybe we could link up and do a little assignment together, but definitely go South. And then I know we have our hearts set on Hawaii in the winter.

Sunny: I love Arizona too though. Sedona. I could see you both enjoying Sedona.

Nicole: I love Sedona. I have a lot of family in Arizona, so it'd be nice to go back home too. She's already met half my family, so it's nice. But we know that in the end we'd love to do something along the lines too of mercy shift. That's what we've always said is going to be our last hurrah before one of us ends. Everything is working up to that too.

Sunny: Oh, that's nice. That's nice.

Matt: I like how you guys have a plan laid out, but you're still open to be thinking of new opportunities maybe you haven't thought of before. So if an opportunity comes up and it sounds exciting and you haven't been there before and you're flexible enough that you can make that decision and go for it. And it being a travel assignment, you're there for a bit, make the best of it, meet some new people and then move on. It's a pretty fun life.

Nicole: Oh yeah. We trust our recruiter with all of our hearts. She was the one who told us to go to Connecticut and we actually surprisingly loved it. Whenever she gives us a recommendation, we just were like, okay. It's like, let's go.

Maggie: She hasn't steered us wrong.

Matt: That's great. That's good. We love hearing those types of stories because we know the recruiters are key to a successful travel assignment. And so it sounds like you guys are having a really good experience there. I know you guys need to go hiking, so I've got one more question for you. And I think Sunny might have one for you as well. There's probably other people listening to this podcast that are traveling pairs that are thinking about traveling. If you had to give your best piece of advice for people ready to try to make the plunge into traveling pairs, what would that be?

Maggie: Just do it. There's never a good time. Right before we left for this assignment, I was really doubtful because I was getting my tonsils out and there was a whole bunch of things that I felt like it wasn't the right time to do it. There's never really a perfect time. And if you accept the nomadic lifestyle and be patient and know that it's not perfect, there's a lot of hang-ups. But if you can make jokes out of it, it's really enjoyable and it teaches you so much about yourself. Being thrown into environments and having a couple of days of orientation and you're learning so much. Not only are you seeing parts of the country that you want to see, but I think I'm becoming a better nurse from it. So I mean, if you had any thoughts about doing it, I think you should just take the plunge and do it.

Nicole: Sponsor ad Nike. Just do it.

Maggie: Should get sponsored. Give me some. Nike scrubs.

Matt: Yeah. This is not an audition, but I like it. I mean, we can submit it. That's fine. Any other advice?

Nicole: Thanks for stealing my answer, Maggie, that was a good one. No, I agree. I guess if there's anything else, if you want anything more along the lines of, if you ever go to a travel assignment too. Don't be afraid to ask. You're going to have trouble finding things, knowing the providers, meeting the other nurses. But there are good people everywhere you go. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Everywhere is a new situation. You might have done this procedure a hundred times at another hospital. It might've been done one way, but every single place is different. So just don't be afraid to ask the dumb questions and laugh a little because like Maggie said, there's not going to be a perfect assignment. We've had our fair share of hang ups. We actually just give a soft smile and a giggle and nod and like, okay, everything is going to be okay.

Matt: That's great advice.

Maggie: I think that's probably the best advice, Nicole, because taking the time to not feel scared to ask questions while you're there so that way you can still give great care because it's very intimidating going up to new faces and saying, Hey, I'm desperate right now. I don't know where anything is. I don't know y'all's protocol on this. I'm concerned about this patient but I don't know who to call. And so speaking up and feeling comfortable to ask for help is so important. So that's really good advice.

Sunny: Yeah. And I think that's important for anyone who's wanting to seek that mobile lifestyle is to basically be able to say, I need help and I need to be able to ask those questions. Because if you can't, then you maybe need to rethink that decision. But I love what you said, Nicole, about giving a soft smile, because that's important too because sometimes you just have to swallow it and give that soft smile and move forward. Because at the end of the day, don't let your professional credibility be threatened because of a bad moment. Right. And I think you guys are both examples of what it is to just smile and let life lead you into wonderful adventures. I mean, you guys both make me happy and smile. I never see this grumpy guy smile so much as I do today. You guys just make him giggle.

Sunny: If I can say giggle.

Maggie: I'm glad to hear that.

Matt: That's not very nice nor accurate. But it's been a pleasure having you guys.

Sunny: I'm just kidding.

Maggie: We're really delighted to be here.

Matt: Traveling players are-

Nicole: We love podcasts. That's how we stayed awake driving from Texas to Connecticut and then Connecticut to Maine. We listen to a lot of podcasts.

Sunny: Now you get a new one.

Nicole: I know. We're going to hear ourselves.

Maggie: I don't want to hear my voice.

Matt: And you're auditioning for commercials so this is working out really well. Traveling pairs and Nike representatives. Perfect.

Sunny: All right, part of what we do here at Cardium is, we talk about the heart of healthcare and part of that is really knowing what your purpose is and knowing what your why is. And so at the end of each of our episode, we ask our guests, what's your why? So I'm asking both of you, what's your why? And either Nicole or Maggie, you can jump in as to who wants to go first and you're both pointing at each other. Our listeners can't see this.

Nicole: Okay. I'll go first. So my why always has been my grandma. My choice in careers have changed since I was little. And when my grandma got diagnosed with Alzheimer's, that's when I thought I wanted to be a doctor. And then I realized I loved actually taking care of her and I love talking and so I can actually sit in the patient's room if I really want to and just talk with them and comfort them. And so really my grandma is my why. It's actually evolved into other members of my family. My dad got sick. And so it's seeing those people that are closest to you and taking that, not sympathy, but if it was your family member and just going to work with that mindset. You have your confused patients, you have those patients where you're going to roll your eyes. But I always just think of the people that are closest to me that I've taken care of, and for that person, it was my grandma. She's the reason why I came in here. So I would definitely say it was my…she's the reason why I love what I do and I will always love what I do.

Sunny: That's awesome. That's beautiful.

Matt: Great Why.

Maggie: That was a good one. Nicole.

Maggie: I think my why, I have a couple. My dad's a nurse, so I always grew up hearing the crazy stories at dinner and seeing the long hours he put in and also seeing the time he could have with us with his days off. And then he went back to school to be a CRNA and he went back when I was in middle school I believe. And just seeing him push to his dream and seeing all the doors that nursing can open for someone really inspired me. I definitely look up to my dad. He's definitely someone I call and vent to, cry to on my worst days of work. So I think partially just growing up with my dad and seeing what a great nurse and care he provides to people in need. And that's been part of my why. And then, also I've always wanted a job and career where I'm hands on and I feel like I'm helping others firsthand. And I love days whenever I go home and I really feel in my heart that I've made a difference for someone or I caught something or even saved someone's life. It's really important for me and it makes me happy to help others. And I feel like being on the front lines in the hospitals and starting this career has taught me so much about myself and what's important in life. Oh my gosh, I feel life is so much easier now, just living.

Nicole: It's a new experience every day, it's never the same day twice.

Maggie: Never the same. We get some crazy days, but-

Matt: Those are great Whys, you guys. Those are great. Thank you.

Sunny: Those are amazing and thank you and thanks for joining us today and we really appreciate it and thanks for all you do.

Maggie: Thanks for having us.

Nicole: Thanks for having us.

Matt: Thanks, guys. Well that's going to wrap up today's podcast. We love to hear from you. So please drop us a review. Let us know your thoughts on today's topic or anything else you'd like to discuss.

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.

We want to hear from you!

We love connecting with our listeners. Have a show topic, a suggestion, or feedback on our podcast? Interested in being a guest? Reach out to us!

Send us a Message