Travel Duo: Brittany Pegram and Cara Stafford
Nurses who travel together stick together. Brittany and Cara are a travel duo that have been working and traveling together for the last 5 years despite beginning their careers in different specialties and locations. Brittany began her nursing career in the PICU in North Carolina while Cara started out on a Heme/Onc unit in Mississippi. They initially started their traveling careers independently until their paths crossed during an assignment in the Virgin Islands. Over the years, Brittany and Cara have learned not only how to make traveling together possible but enviable! They hit a new location with an ever-present feeling of familiarity.
What was your first experience with nursing? What influence did this have on your decision to become a nurse?
Brittany: I remember being told by my fourth grade teacher that I was going to be a nurse or social worker. I took ‘Med Careers’ in high school and knew that being a nurse was what I wanted to do.
Cara: I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field.
How did you discover travel nursing?
Brittany: The first time I heard about travel nursing was in college and figured that was the best way to live in new places.
Cara: I found out about being a travel nurse from someone who was already traveling. She told me how exciting it is and that solidified my decision.
What advice would you give other travel duos or someone seeking a travel buddy?
Brittany: Traveling with other nurses can be a lot of fun. I took an assignment with two of my best friends in Arizona before I met Cara. In both situations, not only am I living with my friends, I am also working on the same unit as they are. It is important to take some time for yourself and have some boundaries. It is also important to make sure your roommate knows those boundaries.
Cara and I work with multiple companies and only apply to jobs where there are at least two positions. You do not want to have to choose between your dream assignment and your friend. If only one of you gets the job offer, you have to decide what is more important. Also, you can choose a location that has multiple health systems to increase your chances of being placed together.
Cara: We only look at jobs with multiple positions.
How many travel assignments have you completed? Do you collect anything at each location?
Brittany: I think I am on my 19th assignment and I try not to collect too much because I need to travel light. I do get a piece of artwork from each assignment that I will get to display in my future house. I think it is important to carry photos of your family and friends with you so it feels like home no matter where you are at.
Cara: I try to only collect memories and photos of the places I have been.
Any road trip advice?
Brittany: Map out your route early enough so you can plan how many hours you need to drive per day so you can get there on time. Also, see if there are any attractions you might want to see on your route to break up the drive and have a little fun.
Cara: My road trip advice is find a podcast of topics you’re interested in. It definitely helps the time pass.
What has been your favorite experience as a nurse?
Brittany: My favorite part of being a travel nurse is the people I have met along this journey. I have gotten to meet so many people that are from different cultures and parts of the country. Each new experience improves my nursing practice.
What do you most enjoy about nursing?
Brittany: I think the most important part of my job is the children (and their families) that I help take care of. Being sick is no fun and having a sick child, from what I have been told, can be the worst experience of your life.
Cara: I enjoy meeting new people.
What do you think is the most difficult part of being a nurse?
Brittany: Nursing has definitely taught me empathy. This can also be the most difficult part of nursing. As care providers, we give so much of ourselves. After talking to people for 12 plus hours, sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home is talk some more. Thankfully Cara gets this!
Cara: Long, busy hours.
What gives you energy on your days off?
Brittany: Some days off I have no energy but I realize that I am only in a place for a limited time and I need to make the most of it.
What do you wish the world knew about nursing?
Brittany: I wish one thing more people knew about travel nursing is that we are not in it for the money. Nursing at baseline is a tough career and we are moving every three months which can make it more difficult. One plus to moving every three months…almost any assignment is doable for three months.
Cara: It is not just a job, it becomes a part of you.
What do you think is in store for the future of nursing? What about for your nursing career?
Brittany: I think the future of nursing includes more autonomy and more nurse practitioners. I’m not sure about my future as a travel nurse. Once you start, it is hard to stop. My plan was to take a permanent position at the beginning of 2019 but a friend wants to spend a few weeks in Africa this coming spring and travel nursing allows me to do this. So maybe one more assignment!
Cara: Hopefully all 50 states becoming part of the compact for nursing licenses. My career in nursing is to be determined.
- Healthiest habit for work days: B: go to bed early if you have to work the next day. C: Bring your own lunch. You never know if you will have time to go to the cafeteria.
- My work mornings usually start with…B: Coffee! C: Coffee
- Go-to meal that I pack for work: B: Leftovers C: Leftovers and fruit
- Favorite thing to do on a day-off: B: Explore whatever city I am in C: Explore the new area
- Favorite app: B: Instagram for social media, ‘Dark Sky’ for weather, and ‘Sleep Pillow’ for a sound machine to help me sleep C: Instagram and WatchESPN
- Clogs or sneakers? B: Clogs for work C: Danskos
- If I wasn’t a nurse, I would probably be..B: interior decorator C: a baker
- Compression stockings, compression socks, or neither? B: Compression socks C: Compression socks
- Puke, poop, sputum, IV starts in babies, we’ve all got our aversion, what’s yours? B: Vernix C: Amputations
- Go-to choice of caffeine? B: Coffee or Green Tea C:Coffee or sweet tea