Have you ever considered a 13-week travel nurse assignment on the island of Guam?
This week we are featuring Joyce S. an MS/Tele RN. She has 6 years of experience including cardiac stepdown & progressive care, medical tourism in Dubai, and a variety of nursing skills. Born in Kenya, Joyce has a background in engineering, but after recovering from a life-threatening illness, discovered a passion for nursing. Fast forward to 2020, now Joyce is discovering paradise on the island of Guam.
What inspired you to start a Vero travel nurse assignment?
I was living in Minnesota at the time, and sick of the cold. I was going through a life transition, and I needed a change. I had the nursing experience, but I wanted more. One of my good friends worked at a hospital in Guam and loved it. I had researched travel nursing, and after listening to all she had to say about the island, I knew I wanted to give it a try. She referred me to Vero, because the pay was great, and I had the support I needed. Plus, at that time, there wasn’t a COVID unit. I spoke to Michelle Breitburg, a recruiter at Vero. What I like about working with Michelle is that she’s vibrant, she’s supportive, and she wants to make sure my needs are met and that this is going to be a good fit for me, before I even committed. It was beyond just job placement. She clearly explained what the role would involve and all the expectations. I was a great candidate for this, and everything clicked. I was so excited to get started. Michelle is more than my recruiter; she is my friend. She listens and is always available.
How would you describe your current travel nurse assignment in Guam?
It was an eye-opener. I was very used to mainland hospitals. Here if you have a cough, people go to the hospital and get checked out. There are a ton of resources here in the USA. Things are different in Guam. People are sick, and you have to use whatever is available. The positive is that it has helped me grow as a nurse very quickly. I am learning how to treat patients in various ways. I am becoming a better nurse, minute by minute. My confidence level has significantly increased. I am going to be able to bring a lot of skills and knowledge to my future nurse positions, and it’s because of this experience. The staff at GMRC is amazing. Extremely welcoming and helpful to all travelers. The patients are the most grateful people I’ve ever met. In a nutshell, Guam was the place that I needed to come to heal personally and grow professionally.
When you aren’t working, what do you enjoy doing on the island?
I love the beaches for sure. My favorite would be the Timon beach. It’s a great place to hang out and just relax by yourself or with friends. I also went to the gun beach and it's stunning. One of the best breakfast places is Ture's... oh my gosh the pancakes are incredible!!! Pikas has amazing mimosas. Jeff's cove is great for lunch and/or dinner. Another great spot is Mosa's.. it has the fried avocado and the amazing spinach burger, nothing like it! You will always find great meals,drinks and music. This island is truly paradise.
What tips would you give to someone who is about to start a Vero Guam travel nurse assignment?
My advice is to just take the plunge and GO FOR IT. You will be so happy you did. I have traveled to many countries, such as Sweden and Iceland. I would place Guam in my top 5. The reason that I love Guam is that the amount of love and support you receive is like no other. It will take away any fear you have. There is a real nurse community in Guam. This is a safe place. If you get the opportunity, don’t miss it. The weather is awesome and most people do a lot of outdoor activities, such as diving, hiking. There is something for everyone.
Guam housing is something to research. I found my Guam housing through the Vero Guam Travel Nurses Group. You cannot be scared to put yourself out there and talk to other nurses who have recommendations for you. One nurse wrote to me after I posted in the group and told me about a military family that was offering rental vehicles way cheaper than some of the companies on the island, which helped me save money. It was the same thing for housing. So, ask questions, ask for recommendations, and talk to your recruiter for support. But the are many resources to find what you need.
What important lessons have you learned as a travel nurse?
In Guam specifically, I encourage other nurses to embrace the culture. Do not come here with the mentality that you know everything. Appreciate what is here. As a new nurse, congrats because you completed one of the toughest programs there is. You are so smart, caring, and amazing. I think nurses should never stop learning because there are many ways to do something. So keep a teachable spirit because that will take you far. Also, be open to meeting and making new friendships. Every nurse has something they can offer you and help you in some way. Learn from your peers. Once you make great connections on the island, then you have someone with who you can show the best spots, introduce you to more people, or just go on adventures with.
Also, as a nurse, it’s easy to carry the day home with you. You go through so many emotions, and it can be overwhelming, especially at first, when you’re new, you may second-guess yourself and your abilities. But you must believe that you are capable, smart, and you’re here for a reason. You made it this far. You have what it takes. Forgive yourself, because unfortunately, we can’t save everyone every time, but we can do our best. And that is what matters.
Words of encouragement for your fellow nurses?
They call this the year of the nurse, and it has been a hard year for any nurse. But we are needed now more than ever and we are saving and helping so many people. We are showing the world, nurses’ matter, we are capable. We are the backbone of healthcare. For us in this field, we are truly called to serve. So keep going, you have the love and support from all your fellow healthcare workers. We are in this together. We are making a difference each day.
Just for fun. What’s one thing you absolutely couldn’t travel without? My phone, passport, and bible.