Life as a Travel Nurse: Iowa City, Iowa

Wow.

Just like that. My first travel assignment is complete!

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Thirteen weeks has passed by in what seems, like a blink of an eye. It’s amazing how fast life can go.

Be present and seek adventures. 

As a pediatric ICU nurse there are countless rewards ranging from personal & professional growth, increase in knowledge, confidence and new friendships. However, the best reward is being a part of a child’s recovery from some of the most terrifying diagnoses against all odds. One special little girl stole my heart here in Iowa. This is why I do what I do. And when I am told, “I could never do your job” or asked, “how can you deal with seeing so many sick kids?” I think about times like these.

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This year I added another benefit of nursing: getting to see the country. Now on my days off, I get to:

Hike

Take road trips

Try new foods

Explore

Take lots…and lots of pictures.

On the days that I do work, I get to challenge myself and continue to grow as a nurse. Back home in Florida, I was at a point where I felt confident in my nursing practice and was ready to learn more. My first assignment was in good ole, Iowa! I remember my first day on the unit and my preceptor asked, “Why the heck would you come to Iowa?” I laughed. That was the same response I got when I shared with my friends and family about my travel nurse journey.

Why?

Iowa?

All there is is corn.

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Well, all I can say is I went with my gut. The day my recruiter talked to me about opportunities at an academic, Magnet Recognized hospital in the Midwest, I just had a good feeling about it. I had turned down other positions and although I had my heart set on California, something told me Iowa City was for me! This (beautiful) facility was a brand new (as of March 2017) freestanding children’s facility with highly technical and innovative technology that could be seen pretty much from anywhere in Iowa City. I was in awe before I even walked through the doors.

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As a travel nurse, it’s essentially a “temp” job. You are new to an environment and you have to adjust quickly, learn policies and adapt.

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Oh, and ask a lot of questions. Ultimately, the nursing/patient care part is not the difficult part. It’s communication with doctors you don’t know, knowing policies and finding all the things you need to carry out your tasks for the day.

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My first week on the unit, I was kind of a nervous wreck. After every shift it got easier and I was lucky enough to work with a group of nurses that saw me as a part of their staff, not just “a traveler”. They wanted to help me and they all made my experience so great. I made awesome friends here in Iowa and expanded my nursing critical care knowledge.

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After defending my decision to my close friends and remaining positive, I was right all along. Iowa City is a hidden gem! Here are some pictures from our adventures on my days off!

Maquoketa Caves 

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While getting ready to explore the caves, I told David about 50 times to wear his hiking shoes but he insisted that he wouldn’t need them. I died a little inside when we were ankle deep in mud in a dark, cold cave.

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Lake Macbride

 

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The first time we hiked this trail we had no idea where to park and no idea where the waterfall was. We hiked for a few hours and finally made it to the beautiful waterfront and maybe a 3 min walk away was a parking lot. At first I was upset because I just wanted to see the water (thanks to Instagram).

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But then I checked myself. The hike was so much fun and getting lost with my best friend in the woods was unforgettable.

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. 

We easily could have parked and hopped to the water and left. But instead we were able to explore, laugh together and getting to the destination meant so much more.

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When my brother came to visit, I took him on his first hike!

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Cedar Rapids

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Took a tour of the Brucemore Mansion.

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We could not help but stop and smell the peonies. My best friend and her boyfriend drove from DALLAS to spend the weekend with us. Not only do I get to enjoy the nooks and crannies of America, but so do my favorite people! It was funny because my husband and I kind of felt like locals showing them all the Iowa spots. Which is weird because we lived in Florida pretty much our entire lives, yet we felt like we were giving them a tour of home.

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We visited the public library and found this guide which is how we knew about the Brucemore Estate! It was an awesome experience.

Des Moines

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Mines of Spain

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The Mines of Spain spans 1432 acres and a large portion of the area is rugged, wooded Mississippi River Bluffland.

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Iowa Farm Sanctuary

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“At Iowa Farm Sanctuary, we will provide a safe haven to rescued farm animals in need of love and compassion while providing humans the opportunity to experience the unique sentience and intelligence found within a variety of these animals.”

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At the sanctuary I was able to meet and interact with the most loving cows, pigs, goats, chickens and sheep. A place where the animals could just be. They could lay down, run around, eat, drink and socialize on their own time. If you haven’t been to a farm sanctuary, I would highly recommend you find one in your area! It is worth the drive. It’s difficult for me to explain the feeling that overwhelmed me each time I visited. I left feeling at peace, happy and hopeful.

Good Eats

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 If you happen to ever be in the Iowa City area, these are some of my favorite places to eat/drink with awesome vegan and gluten free options (and just really good coffee)!

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Oasis Falafel Joint

Fairgrounds Coffeehouse

High Ground Coffee

Casa Azul

Lion’s Bridge Brewing Company

Big Grove Brewery

Trumpet Blossom Cafe

Gumption 

The Lost Cuban

Molly’s Cupcakes

Redds Alehouse

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He has taught me not to be afraid of change. Go for your dreams, even if it’s scary.

Together we have learned to be mindful and to be present.

We have less things, but through conversation, reading, meditation and exploration- we have gained insight to a whole new way of living.

I only hope to gain even more on our next stop, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA!

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Happy living,

Sherise Rae

3 thoughts on “Life as a Travel Nurse: Iowa City, Iowa

  1. This has got to be my all time favorite post and not just being I made an appearance. Hahaha. I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to see the beauty in IOWA. In your post and in person! Thank you for giving me that. I am so incredibly proud of you for welcoming change so gracefully and not allowing the nerves to hold you back in life! Continue living the best life. I’ll be here following along through each of your post AND with each new job destination 😉
    Love you! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so exciting to read about your first travel assignment and how much fun you had in Iowa City!! I am currently on my first travel assignment, and one of the places I was submitted was Iowa City. Just like people asked you, I was like “what is there even to do in Iowa?” But after reading your post I have hope that it’ll be a blast if I do end up on an assignment in Iowa! I hope you continue to enjoy your journey of travel nursing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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