Variety in travel nurse job entices Sanford employees

Sanford Health’s central resource pool lets nurses travel and experience a variety of positions.

Sanford Health registered nurse with a patient

For Hope Gregory, her dream job took some patience to get. The Sanford Health resource pool created her opportunity to travel.

“I have been a nurse for 30 years. I have always wanted to do travel nursing, but I put that dream aside to fulfill my dream of having a family,” she says. Gregory worked in a variety of nursing positions while she raised her children. After they were grown, she heard about Sanford Health’s central resource pool and knew it was what she wanted to do.

“It’s modeled after outside traveling nursing agencies,” central resource pool manager Heidi Skovlund says. Registered nurses are placed temporarily in locations when and where there’s the most need. “But these nurses have full-time status as a Sanford Health employee and only go to Sanford Health locations.”

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Central resource pool assignments are typically 12 weeks or more in Sanford Health hospitals that need additional nursing staff.

Resource pool nurses receive an hourly base pay, as well as meal and housing stipends. They are eligible for benefits as full-time employees. “This is a good program if you want to have a variety of nursing experience and be able to work in different locations within Sanford Health,” Skovlund says.

“It was a perfect situation at the right time,” Gregory says of the central resource pool positions that began at Sanford Health in 2015. “I knew that I could be flexible with my schedule and where I was working. I could be a traveler with a great hospital that I am familiar with, keep my benefits, meet new people, see how other facilities operate within the enterprise, and still be close to home. So in May 2016 I joined the resource pool — and I am so glad that I did!”

Versatile skills

Because the nurses are cross-trained in multiple departments, they carry best practices and standardized procedures across all Sanford Health locations.

Skovlund says the pool addresses both nursing workforce needs and a positive work environment, while providing positive patient outcomes.

“It’s improved nursing satisfaction,” she says. “We’ve also had great satisfaction from the units that use the float nurses.”

Nurses share their skills and knowledge in a variety of settings, and patients and hospitals continue to receive quality care. It also allows Sanford Health to quickly respond to patient volumes at a time when nurses are sometimes in short supply.

Traveling close to home

The variety of the job, coupled with the stability of a full-time position, is enticing.

Megan Terfehr started working at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota, in 2013. She’s been in the resource pool since 2015. Since then, her experiences have included cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, surgery, oncology and observation units in both Dakotas.

“I was interested in travel nursing, but wasn’t sure about being far from home,” Terfehr says. “I thought the resource pool would be a great way to experience other areas of nursing while still being a Sanford Health employee, and only being a few hours away from home.”

Variety of backgrounds

Skovlund says the resource pool attracts registered nurses from a range of situations. New grads use it to earn a great wage to pay off student loans. On the other hand, empty nesters are often ready to travel and share their experiences. For some nurses in the program, being at patients’ bedsides where they’re needed is most important.

Janet Huber worked as an licensed practical nurse for 25 years before getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing. After 10 more years in various positions, including director of nursing at a multi-specialty clinic, she wanted to get back into direct patient care.

Her children were grown and gone from home, and her husband was semi-retired, “so it looked like the opportune time to try something different,” Huber says of joining the central resource pool.

She translates her years of experience with each new assignment, sharing knowledge and expertise, while also learning from her colleagues.

“With moving to different facilities, I get to be part of the patients’ health care team in so many different areas,” Huber says. “It has been amazing how much one can still learn after being a nurse all these years!”

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Posted In Nursing and Nursing Support, People & Culture