Lisa Furst is one of Prolink's first Travel RNs placed on an assignment. Check out the interview below to learn about her experiences as a nurse, routines for starting a new assignment and her advice for new traveling RNs—she’s absolutely AMAZING!!
1. When we spoke about interviewing you for Prolink’s 10 Year Anniversary, we found out that travel nursing wasn't your first career. Please briefly tell us about your time as a teacher and what lead you to decide on nursing as your next path.
After being a teacher for 25 years, I decided it was time for a change. I wanted a new career that was still working with people, and helping them, but with more opportunities for variety. My mom and sister were both nurses, and I had been helping with my Dad’s health problems, and decided nursing was a great career change. When I started nursing school, I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as travel nursing, but it has provided all the variety and options that I was looking for.
2. In hearing you speak about your family, it is evident that they are extremely important to you, as well as incredibly supportive. Please tell us about them and the role they play in encouraging you to follow your dreams.
My husband was not sure how travel nursing was going to work with our marriage, when I first talked to him about it. He has always traveled a lot for his job, and liked coming home, and his wife being there. After 25 years of marriage, I was an empty nester, and ready to do some travel myself. We decided to try it, and it has worked well for us. My adult children think travel nursing is great because I can be near them for three months and work a contract, then move on, and give them their space. I am currently on my 3rd contract in the town my daughter lives, and we love doing things together when I’m there. No grandchildren yet, but I figure once I have them, that will be a more frequent return.
3. What is something that makes you ridiculously happy or gets you really excited?
My favorite thing to do is plan and go on trips. Travel nursing allows me to go on trips, while I’m working, letting me be somewhere new for three months at a time, while financing my time there. Also, it gives me the flexibility to take off as long as I want, between contracts, to go on trips to places. I’m not tied to only having so many PTO hours available.
4. What has been your biggest accomplishment as a nurse so far?
My biggest accomplishment as a nurse is being able to adapt to all different sizes of hospitals, and all the different EMRs, so I can provide great patient care. I have worked small critical care hospitals, as well as big city hospitals, and have felt successful in all the different settings.
5. In being a travel nurse for the past 6+ years now, you have developed some routines for starting new assignments. Can you share with us what that looks like?
When I start a new contract, it is usually standard to have 2 nights on the floor with a preceptor RN. I insist that the 1st night, the preceptor take care of the patients and do all the charting, so I can see how the workflow goes with their particular EMR and med passes. Then, the 2nd night, I do all the patient care and charting, with my preceptor as a right-hand to help me through all the questions I have about the charting. I make sure I make a list of all the things that absolutely must be charted every shift, and make sure I know how to do those. Then, as I get more comfortable, I explore the EMR and charting more.
6. You mentioned that Alaska was one of your most memorable assignments, and that you've returned a couple times now. What about Alaska kept bringing you back and made such an impact on you?
I have done five contracts in Alaska, and love going there for a number of reasons. The remote Alaska villages kind of give you a break from the world, while exploring a new culture. For one contract, the day I arrived it was -32 degrees, with a wind chill of -65. You can’t beat stories like that.
7. Which states have you worked an assignment in and what is the most important thing you've learned by experiencing so many different hospitals?
I’ve worked in WI, IA, KS, MA, TX, CA, NV, MO, MT, and AK. The biggest thing to remember is that taking care of your patients is the same everywhere. The EMR and med dispense systems may differ, but patients are still patients, and if you take care of them, everything else will fall into place.
8. You spoke about growing your self-confidence as being a key aspect of your success. If you could give a new travel nurse any advice, what would it be?
Advice for travel nursing: enjoy and explore where you’re at. I am often telling natives about the cool places in their cities/towns. Often, I see more sights in the places I’m working than the people that have lived there all their lives. With three months, you have time to see all the tourist sites, as well as to really experience the flavor of the area.
9. Throughout your time as a travel nurse, you have had a handful of different recruiters. What is the most important thing you look for in a recruiter?
I’m independent, and I’m looking for a recruiter to get me a good contract and communicate while in that process. After arriving at a position, I really don’t need much. But, if I text my recruiter, I am doing it because it is something urgent, and I expect a response that day. I also want my recruiter to keep in mind that the contract I just signed with them is for nights, meaning a 2pm call to me, is equivalent to me calling them at 2am, and that is not welcomed unless it is an emergency.
10. Why Prolink?
Prolink is the company that has always come through for me. Through 25+ contracts, I have always gotten paid on time. A couple of times I have contacted other companies, along with Prolink, looking for a contract in a particular area, and even at these times, Prolink has been the one that came through with a contract.
Lisa, it was an absolute pleasure connecting with you on this passion of yours and we are honored that you have continued to choose Prolink throughout your life-changing endeavors.