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"I am the perfect example of what nursing can be. If you can think it, it can be morphed into nursing."

If you are a nursing student or considering nursing as a career, you may want to explore becoming a traveling nurse. Myika Dunn first found her passion in nursing and then went on to do just that.

Myika readily admits that she went to college to become a doctor. However, by the end of her first semester at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, she was disappointed because she spent too much time in a lab setting and didn’t get to see very many people. After visiting the University’s career fair and shopping around, she wound up at the nursing table. The student nurses looked happy and told her that when they completed their prerequisites they got “hands on” experience in a hospital setting. Myika made the switch and never looked back. “It was like finding a friend,” she says.

In addition to her coursework, Myika found time to give back. She was the president of the Student Nurses Association at Seton Hall and University Senator for the School of Nursing. She organized two large scale community health fairs that dealt with cholesterol screening, heart disease screening and organized a bone marrow donor sign up program with a focus on African Americans.

During clinicals she learned she loved working with mothers and babies. Even though the work was challenging, she loved the environment because people are a lot happier to be in the hospital.

Myika’s career has been varied. While she was working toward her Masters Degree, she was holding down a full time position at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia for five years. After completing her degree, she wanted to see a different side of health care, so she became a nurse manager at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and managed an orthopedics and trauma unit. It turned out that this was the challenge of her life. She had staffing and union issues and preparation for Joint Commission three months after she was hired. It was a very tall order for a nurse who never did medical/surgical nursing and no one to mentor her. She prevailed and went on to become a clinical instructor/guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania where she learned the value of mentoring. It was during this time that she wanted an entirely different experience and became a traveling nurse with Cross Country Staffing in Malden, Massachusetts.

She’s been traveling for four years with assignments in Palm Springs, CA; San Diego, CA; Boston, MA; Philadelphia, PA; and currently in Walnut Creek, CA. She is now ready to be rooted and get back into management. “The beauty of nursing is that if you get tired or bored, or you don’t feel challenged, you can change it,” she says. She is even considering opening up her own traveling nurse agency.

Myika says there are a lot of companies out there competing for your business. For nursing students considering becoming a traveling nurse, she says to remember that you are the client and the company must win you over. It is important to have some business acumen, negotiate for yourself, and learn to sell yourself over the phone because that’s where the interviewing takes place. She also suggests that you have a goal, financial plan, and know what you want to do. Another tip she offers is that companies provide housing, pay your utilities and may even offer you a lap top. Most companies have hiring incentives, so it is important to shop around.

There are also companies that deal solely with international placement, but Myika points out that when you leave the United States, the delivery of care is quite different. She’s very adamant when she says, “The best health care in the world is in the United States.”

Because Myika has worked at a number of different hospitals, she says she has become an expert in change. She can turn things on or off as the culture dictates—experience directly related to being a traveling nurse.

“I am the perfect example of what nursing can be. If you can think it, it can be morphed into nursing,” she says proudly.