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Have you ever considered traveling to Guam?

This week, we are featuring an amazing ICU Travel Nurse, Mark Gaudet. He is a native Louisianan & now world traveler with 4+ years in travel nursing. We are thankful to have Mark apart of the Vero family.

Keep reading to discover key insights for new travel nurses, or those seeking a Guam travel nurse assignment!

What inspired you to start a travel nursing career?

Prior to nursing, I was a paramedic. I always knew I’d end up in nursing, but the EMS field kept me captivated for 30+ years. Initially, I thought I’d be a CRNA but after my first travel assignment, this is it for me. My initial intro to travel was for financial gain, as are most, but now it’s about the experience.

How would you describe your Guam travel nurse assignment?

I am in love with the people of Guam. The “indigenous” Chamorro culture is ancient and interesting. The Chamorro cultural norms end up being very similar to the cultural habits of my own culture, Louisiana “Cajun French.” The cuisine, although utilizing locally available products is prepared in much the same way as the Cajun cuisine. Many of the pronunciations of words are also very similar in sound to Cajun pronunciations (i.e. yes would be ya as in yack). It was quite startling to deplane and hear similar annunciations as home. Both cultures are very devout Roman Catholic. It was amazing to come here and find “kin-folk.” Who’d have known?

The hospital is very traveler friendly. Being in such a remote location lends to some peculiar and inventive ingenuity to accomplish tasks sometimes. Since much of what is available and taken for granted on the US Mainland can be sparse or non-existent here. Folks have really learned to “McGuyver” as the staff puts it, here to accomplish patient care. I will take the many learned things with me back home and in my travels.

While in Guam, how do you cope being so far away from family & friends?

Being far away from home is definitely a consideration [when choosing a Guam travel nurse assignment]. It’s not easy or cheap to get back and forth to the Mainland and being on a small island can feel restrictive to some. I’ve embraced and enjoyed both. The upside is being so close to Asia. There is an opportunity to see multiple places there, any ONE of which would be a once in a lifetime trip from the mainland because of distance and expense.

This is always inquired. How did you find suitable housing & transportation on the island?

Initially, I went through AirBnB. Then after being on the island, through contacts and acquaintances I was able to secure a private place with a friend of a friend. Nurses on the island are always willing to lend advice and help to those coming here on how to get things set up. The island is a tourist destination for Asia, because of this there are many rental car options and folks on the island may have a lead as to someone who personally rents cars.

What made you choose to work with Vero RN?

I had been considering Guam previously. I was informed of Vero through following the blogs and the rest is history. The informant was a previous Guamanian and Vero employee.

Have you faced any challenges being a travel nurse?

I have been one of the fortunate travelers that have not encountered the “bad” situation. I realize my time may come but all has been fantastic so far. I believe that if you treat each contract as “being in someone else’s house” and treating the staff and patients with respect and dignity, all will be well. NEVER, EVER, be the nurse who says, “well, where I’m from……” You’ll die a slow painful death. Every facility has uniqueness.

What situations have you experienced as a travel nurse during COVID-19?

I have had COVID-19 experience. On Guam, I floated for OT to the ER. Many PUI’s to deal with daily. Fortunately, of the 3 hospitals on the island, ours was considered the “clean” non-COVID location. All positive cases were shipped to the other hospital. Any PUI’s that we had to keep were isolated in the ICU, I’m an ICU nurse. Being a small island, once the virus was discovered here, it had nowhere to go. That is surreal.

What advice would you give to a new travel nurse?

Be yourself, be respectful, be available. Enjoy what you do and have a great time doing it. I make it a practice to seldom mix business with pleasure. Make friends, socialize, but keep it professional. Staff will always win!

As a travel nurse, you should always  _____ (fill in the blank).

Treat each facility with the uniqueness it deserves. Respect the people (patients and staff) remembering you are in their house. Stay far, far, away from unit/facility politics and drama. Most of all, enjoy yourself.

Who or what is the most interesting encounter you have experienced with travel nursing?

I’m a history and culture buff. I love to explore local cultural habits and norms. Every place I’ve been has fed this interest. My favorite so far was the 11 months I spent in Washington D.C. I was able to see everything on my bucket list and then some. The history there is second to none.

What are some of your hobbies & activities outside of work?

I am an avid runner, pretty much every day. I like to read. I like current events, I love to cook, I enjoy sunbathing. At home, I like to fish.

Any words of encouragement for nurses?

Encouragement: Be kind to yourself. Stay healthy, safe, and engaged. You’re never too old or smart to learn something.

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Kristina Thomas

Author Kristina Thomas

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