healthcare professional in scrubs and protective equipment in hospital
Traveler Stories August 7, 2020

By Joseph Duffy

Traveling Helps Respiratory Therapist Traverse Life Changes

Kylee Artese became a registered respiratory therapist (RRT) in September 2013 and then took her first full-time job as an RRT in a hospital. But before reaching her second anniversary working at this location, she decided it was time to travel with Club Staffing.

For Kylee, traveling has been a way to navigate some life changes and find a rewarding employment path full of great experiences. For example, once her children were grown and living on their own, she decided it was the perfect time to start her adventure. And her first stop as a traveler was Ithaca, New York.

"I was in Ithaca, New York, in February, and it was a pretty harsh winter," Kylee said. "But everything came together. I found a nice little Airbnb in town, and the hiking and the trails were fantastic. The hospital was small. I loved the hospital, and I loved the staff. I've stayed in touch with all of the staff I worked with. They made me feel welcome. They put me right in the ICU, just as though I were a regular full-time employee there."

Her travels took her to an assignment in Florida, where she ended up taking a part-time job. From there, she went back to traveling in New York, where she got remarried.

"That marriage didn't work out, and traveling was my way out of it," she said.

So Kylee became a full-time traveler again and headed back to Florida, where she worked from August 2019 to the end of June 2020.

Working In A Pandemic

Kylee was at her Florida hospital travel assignment when the COVID pandemic was declared in March 2020.

"As a traveler, the hospital was putting me in the ICU by October, so I got a good feel and rapport with the doctors," Kylee said. "It was good that I was at that point because when COVID hit, I was one of the first therapists trained along with the full-time staff. We only had two travelers allowed in the ICU. Once COVID hit, it was a rush to get everybody somewhat trained, because we were just expecting that everything was going to be COVID, and everyone was going to have to know how to handle ICU care."

article-searchjobs-cta-image

Kylee ended up being in the ICU two days a week caring for COVID patients on ECMO and ventilators. She said it was hectic and stressful. If you had four or five COVID patients on ventilators, it was hard to get a break. Every time a healthcare professional went into a room, it took 10 minutes just to prepare your PPE, which included N95s, surgical masks, goggles, face shields, hairnets, and hospital scrubs.

"Everybody worked well together, and there were food deliveries and a lot of support from staff for dealing with the stress," she said. "Even therapists who weren't hands-on with the COVID patients were there to back us up, so if we couldn't grab some food, they'd grab some food for us. It was an excellent experience. Scary at times, but it was good."

For new travelers facing COVID for the first time, Kylee says always remember to check your equipment.

"I trained one of our new travelers in the ICU COVID unit, and my biggest point is to check yourself first," Kylee said. "And if somebody's coding, you have to throw out the window that you run into the room. You have to check yourself first. So, it's all about getting everything on that you need to wear to protect yourself, no matter what is going on with that patient. And that's the hardest part — knowing that you can't just run into that room to save somebody now. The saying is, 'There is no emergency in a pandemic.'"

Keep On Traveling

As she waits for her California assignment to begin, Kylee reflected on how much she has learned since traveling.

"In a short amount of time, I got so much experience that I have a per diem job here in California while waiting on my license," she said. "And what I find is that because of my experience, I've used every available ventilator. I've done a lot of different procedures, because of different states allowing you to do different things. I've used every charting system there is, so for orientation in a hospital, I mean, it's trial by fire. You have two to three days to be up and running for a travel position. When you take a permanent job, you get six to eight weeks of training. So, I like jumping right in."

RELATED

READY to start traveling as Kylee has? Just apply from the link below, and our recruitment team will help get you on your way. 

article-apply-cta-image