Nurse practitioner Michelle Rensel is not a travel novice. Having already worked travel assignments as an RN, she knew the lifestyle suited her, and when her husband was transitioning to what she calls a “migration career” in IT, they found themselves in Oregon. It was during this time that she began her training to become an NP. After completing her training, she found the transition to a career as a locum tenens NP an easy one.
“I just love to travel so I thought this might be a good fit, and it’s worked out really well,” she says.
Michelle and her husband are currently living in a rural town in Colorado, so she has been content with working assignments in towns with the “least amount of stoplights and cars as possible.” Currently she’s on assignment in a rural clinic in Corning, California, in an agricultural area. She enjoys working in small towns because she feels she’s able to form a closer relationship with her patients.
“I would say the biggest difference between rural areas and the city is the relationship you have with your patients,” she shares. “It’s usually a small town and everyone knows each other and the community knows their medical providers. There’s a lot more continuity even though you’re not necessarily there for a long time. You have a closer and more intimate relationship with your community and the people you work with.”
The benefits of a flexible career, and the need to be flexible
Michelle loves the traveling lifestyle and getting to know the locations where she’s working.
“It’s nice to get to know different places even if you’re doing it just to figure out where you want to go and where you want to end up,” she says. “I love the flexibility of having a lot of options and the ability to change locations if and when I want.”
Michelle suggests doing your research before taking an assignment:
“Make sure you know where you’re going, so either talk to people or do some research on the area and where you’re going to be living,” she recommends. “Also ask a lot of questions at the facility you’re working. The more you know in advance, the better your experience.”
Collaboration as a locum tenens NP is critical
There are states where nurse practitioners are required to work in tandem with a supervising physician, and Michelle says it’s a great relationship to nurture and take advantage of, even if the physician is not always on site.
“The relationship is a two-way one,” she says. “It’s a collaborative relationship where you can bounce ideas off of each other, and it’s nice to have someone who supports you, and you can support them. The supervising physician is always your go-to person.”
Even when her go-to person is off-site, Michelle has found that her peers and facility staff are always a great support to her. She’s never felt like she’s on her own.
“I’ve been really lucky to work with some great people,” Michelle recalls. “Everyone is super helpful, especially when I was trying to find my way in a new place.”
Advice to live by for the locum tenens NP
Preparation is key for a successful locum tenens NP assignment, Michelle says. Gathering all the information you can prior to the start date will make for a more positive experience.
“Ask what the patient population is like, what does your patient load look like, what does your typical day look like, and what sort of support can you expect,” Michelle recommends. “You want to be aware of any potential issues. You have to be prepared so I try to ask as many questions about the clinic as I can before I go.”
Knowledge is power, and the better prepared you are, the smoother the assignment will go.
Ultimately, Michelle says just go with the flow and enjoy yourself: “Go places you want to explore, even on your off time. Get to know where you are.
“The most important thing is to have fun.”