Diverse Perspectives & Advocacy

Trusted First: Jasmine Chen

Sarah Gray, RN
July 17, 2018
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“I always tell my nursing friends not to get too comfortable and to take advantage of all the opportunities afforded to us.”

Jasmine, Trusted’s first nurse, grew up in the Bay Area of California. She worked as a bedside RN for two years, and is now headed to Duke this August for her DNP in Nurse Anesthesia. In the 24 months she’s worked as a bedside RN, she’s experienced more than she could have ever imagined.

She was able to work in 4 hospitals, live in 3 new cities, work in 5 different critical care units (CICU, CTICU, CVICU, CCU, ICU), and has floated to another 11 units. She worked as a new graduate, staff, and traveler. The only things she regrets not having been able to experience? Pediatrics, precepting, and not having been a charge nurse.

But that’s the beauty of nursing, right? It’s all and always possible.

Why nursing?

I first knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field when I was 12. At the time, my younger brother got injured a lot and I enjoyed fixing him up and making him feel better. By 16, I knew I wanted to be a nurse anesthetist. It all started from a cheerleading injury that led to me needing a minor operation. I begged to be put under anesthesia, but since it was so minor they said it was not necessary.

A nurse held my hand the entire time.

That day I realized how much pain and fear can be minimized by providers and that a greater emphasis needs to be put on the comfort of patients and affordable anesthesia. Soon I’ll be heading off to nursing school to become a nurse anesthetist.

You were able to move into travel nursing fairly quickly – how did that happen? What pros and cons do you think this has had for you?

I started my first job working on a unit I did not enjoy in NYC and wanted to return to California where I grew up. Rather than fly back and forth for multiple interviews and endure the long hiring process I decided to take a travel assignment in California.

The very first interview was an automated phone call that I completed during a lunch break and I was offered a job the next day. Being a travel nurse that early allowed me to have a variety of experiences in a short period of time. I was able to live in my favorite cities, try out different types of hospitals, and work in different types of units all in the short time between my undergraduate and graduate education.

Cons? I guess is that I never got to be a charge nurse or preceptor. I love mentoring and I’m sure I’ll get the chance once I’m a CRNA though.

What was most appealing to you about travel nursing?

I love how quickly things just happen. You pick a city, get a list of hospitals or jobs (or in the case of Trusted, access to the platform with all of the information), complete an automated phone or online interview the next day, and get an offer. You’re able to move anywhere and basically try out a city and hospital/unit without fully committing to it. In all honesty, becoming a travel nurse was the best decision I ever made.

I was able to love my job more, meet many new friends, experience a variety of processes at different hospitals, learn to use all types of equipment, and explore new cities, all while making significantly more money to save for CRNA school.

“In all honesty, becoming a travel nurse was the best decision I ever made.”

What has been the most difficult part of being a travel nurse?

The most difficult aspect for me is the moving part. All the arrangements that need to be made can be a headache. Finding a new place, making sure the new place is safe, finding new doctors, and making sure addresses are changed can be tedious. It’s all completely worth it though. I always tell my nursing friends not to get too comfortable and to take advantage of all the opportunities afforded to us.

What was most important to you in a travel assignment?

To be honest, money was a huge factor as going to Duke’s CRNA school would cost me over $250k. As someone who had graduated from undergrad not too long ago, I had a short time to save up as much as I could for grad school. I also put importance on which city a hospital was in and if the unit was “travel friendly”. Travel friendly meant, to me, that a traveler could easily work in the unit with less than a week’s training. The policies and procedures are straightforward and the staff are familiar with working with travelers.

disney nurse jasmine chen standing in front of disneyland castle

Was it hard always being ‘the new kid on the block?

To be honest it wasn’t hard for me since I’ve always been the “new kid on the block”. The longest I’ve worked in a unit was 10 months. Being the new kid meant I was always learning and challenging myself. I believe that early in your career, when you feel comfortable, it’s time to move on.

“I believe that early in your career, when you feel comfortable, it’s time to move on.”

We talk a lot about building a brand – as a nursing professional and a professional in general. Do you think this is important? How do you do this yourself?

Of course! I love how nurses are repeatedly the most trusted profession. I hope to uphold that reputation by being selfless, concerned, and aware of what’s happening around the world in addition to our patients. Also, I think the public is not well informed regarding the job description of nursing. I always try to educate people who are curious regarding what it is we actually do.

I hope to erase the antiquated image of nurses who just pass meds, clean patients, and change dressings.

The modern nurse is indefinitely thinking critically, responsible for monitoring a great number of factors, at the center of the communication between the different types of healthcare professionals, adept with many high tech equipment, and highly educated.

We are all certain types of nurses and know certain types of nurses.

If you were in the hospital – what kind of nurse would you want?

I’d want a bold nurse who was a strong patient advocate. He or she would ensure I got the orders and care I needed.

What do you think is in store for the future of nursing? What about your nursing career?

I think there are big changes coming to nursing. Hospitals have always had trouble staffing units. Some days a unit is overstaffed and other days units are understaffed. I believe Trusted Health’s vision of automating the process will quickly be adapted since it’s long overdue. As for CRNA’s, the profession is becoming doctoral-prepared and gaining autonomy. Likewise, I see myself becoming a doctoral-prepared CRNA and fighting legislature for more autonomy.

What made you take a chance on Trusted? What was appealing about us? What made you drop your guard in assuming we were just another agency?

During my first travel assignment with a different agency, I felt taken advantage of. My recruiter was taking half of my paycheck and I wasn’t sure what his purpose was. I wanted to work a contract with a hospital without the middle man recruiter, so I’d be able to take home a much larger portion of my bill rate. Just as I was wondering why this has been allowed to go on for so long, Sarah contacted me.

She told me how she wanted a more transparent and automated process that cut out the middle man and gave me more of my paycheck. I was immediately sold as it was exactly what I was looking for.

Did you have any hesitations working with Trusted?

Nope. They were always very transparent and honest unlike other agencies which avoided my questions and were very secretive with numbers.

nurse jasmine chen holding dog on lap
  • Healthiest habit for work days: Wake up early so I have time to eat and take my time. I like to start my shift relaxed, not rushed.
    My work mornings usually start with… shower, breakfast, coffee
  • Go-to meal that I pack for work: Oh this is embarassing. I used to pack nice meals, but more often than not, there’s free food at work and my packed meal goes to waste. After a while I learned to just leave one minute oatmeal or cereal (where I can just add hospital milk) in my locker.
  • Favorite thing to do on a day-off: After sleeping lots, exploring the new city I’m in
  • Favorite app: instagram? I have friends all over the world (having lived and traveled to so many places) and have to keep in touch somehow!
  • Clogs or sneakers? Clogs, since my feet used to always hurt with sneakers by the end of a shift. After moving to California and averaging 3 to 4 times less steps a shift, I considered switching back to sneakers. However, I like the two extra inches clogs gives me and they’re just part of my uniform now.
  • If I wasn’t a nurse, I would probably be.. an engineer. I still consider biomedical engineering more frequently than I should. And it’s hard not to consider software engineering when you grew up in the Bay Area
  • Compression stockings, compression socks, or neither? Neither. I guess i never felt the need.
  • Puke, poop, sputum, IV starts in babies, we’ve all got our aversion, what’s yours? Puke. Every time my patients puke I quickly hand them a bucket and excuse myself to grab Zofran.
  • Go-to choice of caffeine? Jasmine milk tea and Nescafe individual 3 in 1 instant coffee. I know it’s instant coffee, but it’s actually really good! Everyone I’ve convinced into trying them are surprised by how good they taste. Plus it averaged about 20 cents per 16oz cup.
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