As we close out Pride Month 2022, we wanted to share some highlighted points from the Instagram Live we did a few weeks ago with Sharon, Jose-Nicolas, and Graham, all LGBTQIA+ travelers, in this blogpost to celebrate, learn, and be active in continuing to create an inclusive traveler community.
Does Location Matter?
Where a traveler takes an assignment is usually one of the biggest factors to consider besides pay, facility, and shift. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, one may consider a bigger city over a more remote area in hopes of being accepted and comfortable being authentically oneself.
Representation Matters, Especially in the Clinical Setting
Being aware and personally understanding a lived experience creates another level of relatability when it comes to caring for patients who identify in the LGBTQIA+ community. Going to the hospital and seeking out care can already be a daunting and scary experience. Having LGBTQIA+ healthcare professionals in the clinical setting adds a layer of comfort, empathy, compassion, and relatability. Understanding that everyone who seeks out care just wants to know that they won’t be judged and will receive the same level of care as anybody else is important to be mindful of.
Intersectionality with ethnic and racial backgrounds: this is another layer of lived experiences. LGBTQIA+ travelers of color may want to read the room before sharing personal parts of one’s life to make sure it is an accepting place to be authentically oneself.
Prioritizing Mental Health
Getting around people who are like-minded and are bonded by a similar experience is empowering and beneficial for mental health. Taking time to go on a date, go to an LGBTQIA+ club, and finding your people can be a huge sense of comfort.
A great way to find the LGBTQIA+ community in a new place is by joining social sport teams/leagues, examples are dodgeball or kickball. They are friendly, welcoming, and fun ways to get connected. Some organizations & places to find the community are: Meetup, Varsity Gay League, Stonewall Sports, Pride Sports.
Travel nursing can help you to discover and deepen parts of yourself
Everyone’s journey to self-discovery is unique. Sometimes it takes some traveling and living in a new place where no one knows you to help you grow into different parts of one’s identity, and maybe even reinvent oneself. A new environment can be inspiring and help one to transform.
How Can Allies Show Up?
It takes the effort of allies to help in creating inclusive spaces so everyone can live freely and authentically. One of the easiest actions is to ask for pronouns instead of assuming. Having self-awareness is important when it comes to being in places where the LGBTQIA+ community feels safe and accepted. Taking the initiative to including gay bars into a night out was an example that was shared to help travelers feel included.
We are always striving to create a society and environments where individuals and communities are open, free, and happy. Respecting and appreciating one another on a community and individual level where one can express oneself without fear. As a society, we have come a long way, but still have a ways to go. Some places our travelers mentioned that they would like to see more progress to be had are: LGBTQIA+ boards in hospitals, giving blood relating to HIV+, but undetectable.
Happy Pride, today and everyday. We honor and celebrate you here at MedVenture App!
Click here to watch the entire Instagram Live!
Have you ever had a sentence leave your mouth and immediately you knew what the next question would be? I can almost guarantee that most of us do. For me, it’s almost always after I say “I’m a travel scrub.”
The response? “A what?”
There’s a very common way to explain what a scrub, or more formally a Certified Surgical Technologist or Surgical Technician (dependent on certification status) is. That’s to use probably the one example that my fellow scrubs have also probably employed themselves. Here it goes:
You’re watching any medical drama on TV. An emergent, life saving surgery has to be performed on a patient. They are rolled in and the surgeon is gowned and gloved and walks up to the operating table and says two words, “Scalpel please.” The one with the scalpels? You guessed it, that’s me.
In the world of medical professions, scrubs are the North America to nursing’s Great Britain. What used to be a specialty of the nursing profession has branched off into its own profession, mostly due to how specialized surgery in of itself has become. The training used to be strictly on the job, but now has its own accredited technical programs, clinical experiences, and certification exam. Surgical technologists are trained in surgical procedures, surgical instrumentation, and sterile technique as the cornerstones of the profession. Secondary to those are pre and post operative care and sterile processing. There’s a rumor out there that we’re also knowledgeable of how to put in Foley catheters, but that’s something none of us can confirm or deny.
After training is complete, a new scrub can pick from more than a few types of facilities to begin their career. These include, but aren’t limited to outpatient surgery centers, hospitals, ophthalmic surgical centers, private practice surgery centers, and organ procurement centers. For me, my love of open heart surgery sent me down the path towards my “home facility” in FL. A level 2 trauma center that oriented you in every specialty they performed, which looking back has been instrumental in my path as a traveler as it prepared me to be adaptable in any number of situations I could come across.
Travel was something that I learned about early on in school. We had been told about the possibility to pick up and float around the country, choosing your destination at will and earn twice the amount you would as a staff scrub, which of course sounded phenomenal. Not only that, but when I entered clinicals and later the field as a staff scrub, the travelers who came to my facility had a confidence about them that I wanted. They enjoyed what they were doing and had a joy about them I craved in my own life. I had no idea how to even start the path to becoming that person. Enter my orientation into open heart surgery, and that’s when I got my first taste of what it was like to be a traveler.
My first choice was always open heart surgery. It was seen as the hardest specialty to get into, and almost impossible to gain a spot on the open heart team where I had taken a job. However, as luck would have it, there was a spot that had opened when I graduated from my program. I made my way through every specialty before reaching my goal, the open heart room. My very first day I scrubbed across from my primary preceptor, and watched as she passed a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) without so much as being asked for a single thing from the surgeon. I touched almost nothing, and instead was just there as a silent pair of eyes and ears, soaking it all in. The very next day, through a course of random circumstances, my other preceptor came in that morning and told me that I would be first scrubbing, which I had watched his partner do the day before. At first I laughed, but then when I noticed he wasn’t joking, reality set in. I hadn’t done anything in the heart room up until that moment, and now I would be doing the whole thing from start to finish. To complicate the matter more, my surgeon that day was left handed and spoke with a very heavy Indian accent. Over the next few hours my preceptor calmly talked me through the CABG while first assisting himself, and at the end of it I was told I would “do alright” in the heart room. Seven months later when I decided I would begin traveling, the only thing my preceptors had to say to me was, “well I guess we trained you to do that from the start.”
So how does that relate to being a traveler? That very scenario has played out countless times in the over 5 years I’ve traveled. However, instead of someone talking me through every step, it’s usually the surgeon expecting through a mixture of experience and fast reflexes that I can keep up and keep them moving. At some places I’m given a few weeks of help from another scrub, while other times it’s 2 days and then I find myself on call with a surgeon I’ve never met. The minimum of 2 years experience is a tricky one for scrubs, in that we only know what we’ve seen. You can spend your whole career in one facility, but if they don’t do heart transplants, then you’ll never know how to perform the surgery despite how many years you have on the resume. The first time I did an LVAD implantation? It was 1 am on a Tuesday, and I had to go based on limited knowledge from what I had seen previously through OR windows and lunch reliefs. My first heart transplant was on a weekend and after seeing two be performed I was then on my own, again in the middle of the night. The first time an aortic root blew up and the chest of the patient filled with blood in less than 10 seconds, I had just finished a full shift and hadn’t eaten in hours. Working off adrenaline and reflexes, we were able to get the patient on bypass and off the table hours later. These are all worst case scenarios, but in a perfect storm, they can happen in a second. Oftentimes when they do, everyone in the room starts moving quickly and speaking loudly, and some version of panic will set in. The scrub is in the middle of it all and is the one who is moving quickly but silently, drowning out everything and saying nothing unless they need something from their partner, the circulating nurse.
When a life hangs in the balance, and your status as the traveler goes out the window, it is in that moment that your voice is heard through your skills in the operating room world. At that time you are the person who the surgeon has to rely on to stay ahead of what he wants without him telling you, while simultaneously tracking everything going in and out of the patient’s body to make sure nothing is left behind. Making sure that everything you will need in the next 15 minutes is ready to go, while also organizing instruments as they fly out of your hands and into the surgeon’s and then back at you. It can be terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Oftentimes there is no thinking, there is just blind reacting and relying on what you know to get you and the surgical team through. All of this despite the fact that the surgeon may only just know your name and that you didn’t hand him the scalpel backwards a few hours prior to that. That is the trust that’s put in you as a travel scrub, and even the most simple of cases can go wrong in the blink of an eye, which forces that trust into the forefront of the surgical team.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of scrubbing, most of the time you’re in rooms and don’t have much time to socialize, and sometimes you’re the only traveler in the whole operating room floor. Over the years I just accepted that while I had found financial freedom through traveling, and was able to live in places I’d never imagined, the loneliness and isolation of being “different” than everyone else was part of the lifestyle I had chosen. Thankfully, I was very wrong about that.
I spent a lot of time doing things alone, and didn’t know how to find or connect to other travelers. I would make friends with some permanent staff members, most often the ones who wanted to also travel one day, but that was about it. It all changed when one of those very staff nurses took the leap and became a traveler herself. In 2021 we attended TravCon together, it being my first, and it being her second time in Vegas. Over the course of the next few days we met countless people who she had connected with, or who had connected with someone who had connected with someone else all through this app called Medventure. In a single 4 day stretch my world went from small to expanded beyond what I thought was possible. It was no longer taboo to talk about the adventures you’d gone on, or the things you wanted to do. Rather it was celebrated and everyone around you wanted to live life to the fullest as well. There was no animosity or judgment, there was only understanding and the ability to finally relax because you were surrounded by the best kinds of people, the ones we call travelers. Our people.
I came back to Boston after Travcon with a new fire to connect with other travelers, to share what I had experienced and to make sure I did everything I could so that no traveler felt isolated for being a traveler. The Medventure App was the easiest way to accomplish that. Finding other travelers who were in Boston was easier than ever before. A Facebook group did exist for Boston travelers, but it wasn’t ever successful in getting travelers really connected and getting together. Through another connection I had made at Travcon, and during brunch at a Medventure meetup, a small group of travelers began the first east coast Travelnurse Takeover group for the city of Boston.this supplemented the meetups and allowed deeper connections, turning the group very quickly into a family. Dinners, bar crawls, game nights, and everything else started to pop up on Medventure and the world of traveling continued to shrink. I knew that those friendships would forever impact me so that I’d never feel alone again.
The events of Medventure and the discussions on the TNT groups aren’t temporary either. Since leaving Boston, the family I became a part of continues to connect with me and others who have left the city. The connections I made at TravCon enabled me to have friends in places I would have otherwise seen alone. I’ve traveled to cities just to explore for a few days and because of the established travel communities there, left with even more new friends. These are friendships that will last because at our core, it doesn’t matter if we are nurses, scrubs, physical therapists or radiology techs; what matters is we are travelers. We all want to see the world, set financial freedoms for ourselves, and help others through the avenues we’ve specialized in within the medical field. We want to connect to those who see us for who we are, and not just our label as travelers.
Traveling doesn’t have to be lonely anymore for scrub techs, and thankfully now, more than ever, it’s possible to make it so it never is.
Written by Kayla Jones, Travel Certified Surgical Technician/ MedVenturist
Most people would say you should rent a campervan before you decide to live in one.
This is definitely some good advice... but we sure didn’t.
We’ve been known to do some “crazy” things from time to time – AKA go with our gut vs. doing exactly what society expects of us.
We knew deep down that we were meant to be vanlifers. So when the travel physical therapy market crashed because of the pandemic in 2020, we knew it was our time.
Our only problems were:
We can still hear people’s voices when we were searching online for our van:
This was just another classic situation where I’ll had to tune the voices out, follow our hearts, and take the plunge.
Just like when we sold all our stuff, left everything and everyone we’ve ever known, and moved across the country to California for Skip’s first travel PT assignment.
Now, don’t get it twisted. This process wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Quite the opposite, really.
Building our campervan from scratch was one of the most challenging things we’ve ever done.
We spent three months straight working from sun up to sundown.
And I’m telling you, we had NO IDEA what we were doing. I (Skip) remember googling how to know what types of screws to use, what the dimensions/nominal sizes of wood meant (I was very confused about how a 1x2 wasn’t 1 inch wide), and how to safely use different types of various saws.
While I was trying to figure out how in the world to build benches and cabinets (having barely used a power drill in my life), Jazz was learning how to wire a completely off-grid electrical system.
We have NEVER felt imposter syndrome so strongly in our lives.
But we kept showing up and putting one foot in front of the other. We tackled one brand spankin’ new project after the other.
With each project completed, our confidence grew, and next thing we knew, we felt like we (kind of) knew what we were doing.
After many (MANY) lessons learned, meltdowns, and costly mistakes made, we came out with a beautiful and fully functional tiny home on wheels.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was OURS.
If you’re thinking about building your own tiny home on wheels, here are some of our best PRO TIPS.
Mindset is EVERYTHING
There’s no doubt you’ll run into issues and obstacles while building a DIY camper van.
Our biggest tip is to go into it with a winning mindset. Know that no matter what happens or what challenges you face, you’ll figure it out.
You just have to show up, bet on yourself, and keep going.
Know that you CAN do it, and approach each project with certainty that you WILL do it.
We’re pretty laid back (sometimes to a fault) and can be indecisive generally as human beings.
But when we decide we truly want something, we go after it with everything we have. And we don’t stop until it’s done.
If you want to build a campervan, a bulletproof mindset is what will get you through the hard times.
But if you do scary things again and again, you become less reactive in the face of fear or hardship.
The more your practice, the more you learn to continue to act in the face of fear instead of letting it control you.
And that’s where true growth happens.
Everything Is Figureoutable
We’ve got to say this again in case you missed it. EVERYTHING is figureoutable.
Somebody has faced the challenge you are facing right now and they’ve figured it out. So can you.
When you’re building, even the most simple projects will take longer than expected. The Youtube video or blog post you read will make it seem oh-so-simple. But when it comes to executing, it almost never goes according to plan.
Between Youtube, blogs, and Google, we were literally able to build 100% custom cabinets and wire and off-grid electrical system with ZERO previous knowledge or experience. Is that NOT insane?!
In 2022, there is so much knowledge waiting to be learned on the interwebs. You just have to be willing to find it!
Now that you’re inspired (seriously, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING you put your mind to), here are three things we wish we would’ve known before we started building.
2. Live in the van before you complete the build
This way you know exactly what you personally need to live comfortably on the road. For example, some people are dead set on having a shower. But that means you have to have to carry more water on board and dedicate a large part of your layout to the shower. After you’ve lived in a van, you know how comfortable you are going a couple of days without a shower. Then you can decide whether your build needs a shower on board or if an RV park shower, Planet Fitness shower, or outdoor shower setup will fit your needs.
3. Good tools are 100% worth the investment
Speaking from experience, don’t use your uncle’s table saw that’s 30+ years old. Or your dad’s tools that are all corded (Who knew there were wireless tools?! Not us!). Do yourself a favor and spend the money on some nice, cordless tools. We spent way too much time unplugging one tool to plug in another and making sure the van was close enough to an outlet. Plus, tools aren’t as expensive as you think. You can get all that you need for $500-$600.
It’s hard to describe how much we’ve grown from building our tiny home on wheels from scratch. We truly came out different humans on the other side.
If you’re reading this, we want to remind you one last time that you’re truly capable of anything you set your mind to.
You’re the only person standing in the way of you and the life you want.
You’re the only person who knows deep down what makes you happy and what’s best for you. Or how we like to say it – what sets your soul on fire.
If you feel like vanlife might be in the cards for you, check out this blog post to learn about the pros and cons of vanlife as a travel healthcare professional. It’ll help you decide if the lifestyle is right for you before you pull the trigger.
Let us know how we can help along the way.
This lifestyle has transformed us into more well-rounded, empowered, and grateful human beings.
We would love to help you find your fire.
You can learn more about vanlife and/or travel therapy on our blog skipandjazzjohnson.com or follow us on Instagram and Tiktok @skipandjazzjohnson.
With love and gratitude,
Skip & Jazz Johnson