Alaska is a bucket-list destination for many travel nurses. There are many open positions available throughout the state. Travel nurses love Alaska because of endless activities, great compensation, and breathtaking scenery such as the Northern Lights!
Heather W. is an ER nurse with 8 years experience, who recently started her first travel nurse assignment in Alaska. She knew now was the perfect time to travel while she's in school before furthering her career.
Keep reading to learn more about Heather’s Alaska Adventure.
Why did you choose Alaska for your first travel nurse assignment?
Alaska is my home state, and I did not want to be too far away from my family. Alaska is such a huge state. My current assignment is still 100+ miles from home, so I am experiencing a completely new region, but if I need to get home I can.
How would you describe your current assignment in Cordova, AK?
Fortunately, we have not had any COVID cases. It’s a great experience. If I didn’t take this assignment, I probably wouldn’t have ventured out to this area and seen it otherwise. So I am excited to be here. I love the flexibility in my schedule too, so I can enjoy my days off.
I know some people are hesitant to choose Alaska, but I say just go for it. It is so beautiful and the people are very welcoming. Alaska doesn’t have many big cities, more like small towns throughout the state. It’s a tight-knit community, where everyone looks out for one another. While working at the hospital, you more than likely will have a patient that you know or someone in the facility knows. Patients, staff, and everyone are like family here. You learn to depend on each other.
Cordova is a fishing town. There are lots of rainforests, and it’s a warmer area. Right now the weather is nice, temperatures vary from 50 degrees up to 70 degrees. The area has a great view of the mountains, and the town overlooks the harbor. You can see for miles. You can hike around town, walk downtown and check out all the shops & restaurants. There is always something to do. From November-February, Alaska is dark from 3P-10A, and during the summertime, you can expect 20+ hours of daylight.
As an experienced nurse, what have been the best parts thus far?
I started nursing in the Medical-Surgical department but wanted to do ER because I enjoyed the trauma side of it all. Early on, I was asked to come into the ER code blue situations while I was working in a small hospital. That experience lit a fire inside of me. It was unpredictable. I liked not knowing what was coming through the door, and always being prepared for anything. That fast-paced environment drew me in immediately.
But one of my most proud moments as a nurse, was while I was a new nurse. I had just a few years of experience and had to care for a patient with cancer. It was very difficult for her. This was cancer in her uterus, and she was very uncomfortable and embarrassed due to a lack of hygiene at this time. I was able to talk to the doctor and change some of her hygiene habits and it lifted her spirits tremendously. She no longer felt offensive to people and her visitors. As a nurse, seeing her perk up felt good because even though she had terminally ill cancer, the small things, the patient care in all aspects helped make a difference.
Why Vero? What have you enjoyed about working with Angie as your recruiter?
I’ve had a very good experience with Vero. I felt very in the loop about all the things that I needed to know as a travel nurse.
Angie was very good at explaining expectations and the role of compliance. She made me feel comfortable and has had good communication throughout the entire process.
What advice do you have for new travel nurses?
Be prepared. Research and have an idea of locations you would want to go to. I knew right off the bat that I wanted to go to Alaska and what I brought to the table in terms of skills & experience.
Have a plan for your first assignment, such as here is where I want to go, because of XYZ. Decide what is important to you the most. Is it important to stay close to family? If you are like me, then look at traveling within your home state. You can still be considered a travel nurse, but you are not too far away from your family if you need to go home.
When planning, it’s good to have all your certifications up to date and make sure you are making enough money to survive in that area. Always do your research.
What do you do for fun?
I like to go camping. I love the mountains and the beautiful scenery of Alaska. I also like to spend time with my kids & family back home.
I enjoy being in the outdoors. In the wintertime, we go to ski resorts and enjoy snow activities. Alaska has a lot to offer. Up north, where I lived for several years, is the tundra and very cold. Down south to Juneau is the capital. It’s close to Canada, lots of government councils and tourism. Anchorage, has a little bit of everything, lots of fishing with different attractions and restaurants.
Some of the must-see spots in Alaska are the glaciers & beautiful waterfalls. There are many tours that allow you to go right up to them. Berry picking is also a popular attraction. There is a lot to see and do by the rivers or ocean.
What’s one thing you absolutely cannot travel without?
A good pair of house shoes. 😊