Med Technologist Builds Portfolio and Confidence with Travel Jobs
December 17, 2020
By Joseph Duffy, contributor
Like many travelers, medical technologist Sherry Miles initially learned about the possibilities of healthcare travel through a colleague. At that time, in 2013, she was employed at a hospital in Winchester, Kentucky, as a PRN (pro re nata, or “as needed”) medical technologist, with 20 years of experience. She also worked part-time as an administrative assistant for a local church.
With a son in college, and some recent life changes, Sherry hesitated to look into traveling further. But her friend told her how well the assignments paid, all while getting to visit different parts of the country. Sherry realized that traveling as a medical technologist could help with her son's college debt.
So she called her colleague's Club Staffing recruiter, Tara Killian, and signed on for some new adventures. Today, she has become an accomplished traveler, and her son is college debt-free.
"My relationship with Tara Killian is extreme," said Sherry. "I would say she is my guardian angel. Tara is so efficient and personable. I mean, she gets back to you right away, and she's the best thing. If it had not been for her, if I would have had a bad recruiter, I probably wouldn’t have started or still be traveling. I was uncertain in the beginning, nonetheless, but Tara Killian helped change my life!”
Taking the first of many travel assignments
To help aid in her transition to traveling, Sherry decided to take her first assignment closer to home in Kentucky.
"It was unsettling for me at first to go work at a new place, but I'm a people person, so getting to know people really wasn't hard for me,” she said. “But when it comes to your job and how they do things that are a little different, I felt I would need to get used to that constant change. Over time, traveling has taught me that I'm really adaptive to change and I like it.”
Today, Sherry said traveling has helped her build her professional portfolio as well as open a world of opportunities.
"Now I like learning different methodologies," she said. "I have learned different instrumentation. I find that change keeps me stimulated. It keeps my mind intrigued by different things. I remember working on an assignment in Louisville, Kentucky, and they had a BD Kiestra (Becton Dickinson), an automated microbiology plating and incubation system. I'm like, 'Oh my God, people are talking about this, and I'm sitting here looking at it.’ That machine is a beast.”
Today, Sherry feels she is a better medical technologist because of traveling and she can help make a difference across the country.
"Each time you travel, it's like a building block that you put in your pocket," she said. "When you walk into a new assignment, it becomes easier. It's always a little challenging at first, especially getting to know the workflow, but you've been through the experience before, and each time you're becoming more comfortable and confident with it."
Along with the chance to learn something new at each assignment, Sherry enjoys the flexibility of working as a travel medical technologist.
One assignment in Fredericksburg, Virginia, allowed her to work in microbiology, which had always intrigued her. She also worked at a cancer center near Atlanta in Stockbridge, Georgia, and at a military hospital in Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Sherry said that weather is a contributing factor when she is seeking new places to work, so going back to Virginia and Atlanta are high on her list.
Being a medical technologist during a pandemic
Sherry was working at a hospital in Harrisonburg, Virginia, when COVID hit.
"It has been probably one of the most stressful experiences at first, and then somehow you get used to it, because this is what we are trained to do,” she said. "It is unbelievable to think back to when we weren't sure if lab personnel should wear masks when making patient contact. I remember in the beginning when the CDC camped out at our hospital when the pandemic first hit. It was a sight to see. Almost like we were in a movie.”
Sherry's job before COVID involved handling specimens for chemistry, micro hematology, and other areas. But at the beginning of the outbreak, she found herself helping out among the patient population, as well.
Even though COVID duty was stressful and challenging, Sherry said that adventure is always good.
"Traveling allows you to explore yourself, learn yourself, see new things, and experience new adventures," she said. "It allows you to get out and see things you might not have had the chance to see without traveling."
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