Travel Nursing

My Life as a Travel Nurse: Interview with Tiara Dais, RN, BSN

Interview by Jodie Elrod

Interview by Jodie Elrod

In this article series, we explore what it’s like to be a travel nurse in the cardiac electrophysiology laboratory. Here we speak with Tiara Dais, RN, BSN with Soliant Health, about her experience. 

Tell us about your medical background. How long have you been a nurse? 

I have been interested in the medical field for as long as I can remember. I started working as a nurse tech in 2009 while in nursing school. I graduated in March 2010 and have been working as an RN ever since.

How did you get into travel nursing? When did you first start out as a travel nurse? 

I first heard about travel nursing from another traveler at my first job in the Surgical/Trauma ICU in Illinois. Darlene (the travel nurse) was from Indiana, but had been all over the country. I was in awe of her stories and opportunities and all that she had accomplished. It stayed in the back of my mind until I finally took a chance and started travel nursing in August 2013. We are still friends and met up in California a few years later! She will always have a special place in my heart. 

Have you worked with other travel staffing agencies? 

For my first contract, I worked directly with the hospital in Denver. I also worked with RNnetwork for about a year and a half. I have been working with recruiter Steve Yang (at Soliant Health) for over two years now and don’t plan on changing that any time soon. He has been an amazing asset to my travel journey and a great friend too! 

What initial steps did you have to take with these agencies to become a travel nurse? 

The worst part of being a travel nurse is the paperwork! Imagine all the HR paperwork required when starting a new job; now imagine repeating those steps every 13 weeks (including drug screens, physicals, background checks, and more). But in the end, the effort is totally worth it! 

How long are your typical assignments? What type of hours do you typically work as a contract staff member? 

Typical assignments are 13 weeks. As an ICU nurse, I worked three 12-hour shifts any day of the week. As an EP nurse, I typically work 8- or 10-hour shifts Monday through Friday. I like the consistency of this schedule and the weekends off, of course.

Tell us about your very first travel assignment.  

My very first assignment was at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. I lived in Denver with a roommate I ‘met’ on Craigslist. Everyone from my small hometown thought I was crazy and was sure something bad was going to happen. It was the exact opposite. That assignment changed my life and opened up my life to endless opportunities. I originally thought I was going to stay in Denver, but leaving for another adventure was just too tempting. Every city and adventure since I took that leap of faith has impacted my life in a positive way.

How many labs have you worked at so far as a travel nurse, and which was your favorite? 

I started out traveling in the ICU, and then cross-trained into the cath and EP labs while on assignment in Baltimore. It was scary, challenging, and exciting all at the same time. Now, two years later, I am currently working in my sixth lab! I don’t know if I can pick a favorite — each lab taught me something new and helped make me into the EP nurse I am today. However, I will say that my time spent in Austin had a huge impact on my life and future. I actually bought a condo there and plan to return when it’s completed. Texas stole my heart! 

What are some of the challenges that you have found during the travel nursing experience? 

You are ALWAYS the new kid in class, so you can imagine the challenges that come with that. Starting a new job in a new city, with new rules/regulations and coworkers, is challenging. Then add to that finding short-term housing, making new friends, and still keeping your life in order. It’s hectic and sometimes so stressful, but the experiences make it worth it.

What do you enjoy most about being a travel nurse? 

Everything! I love the people that I have met on my journey. It wouldn’t be the same without the relationships I’ve had, the friendships I’ve created, and the experiences they’ve brought with them. I may have even met someone special along the way. He has opened me up to a whole new set of possibilities and I can’t wait to see what is in our future. Traveling both for work and leisure, obviously, is a must! But if you ask anyone else what they think I enjoy most…it’s the food. I love to eat.  I love to try new things. I make it a point to try the best restaurants in every city!

What other locations are on your wish list? 

Coming from a small town in Central Illinois, pretty much every city without a cornfield is on my list of places to visit. I’ve already been to so many fantastic cities, but there are still more on my bucket list. Charleston, Boston, Seattle, and Southern California are places I’d like to experience before I hang up my traveling shoes. 

Who would you say is the ideal candidate for travel nursing? 

Everyone! I think anyone and everyone should travel. Go outside your comfort zone. Meet new people. Have new experiences. Try it, even just once! 

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Never give up. Never take no for an answer. I have experienced many obstacles on my travel journeys, but I’ve always pushed through and kept moving forward. I never let anything stop me. I may have grown up a small-town girl, but I have never felt like that was me. Exploring the country, meeting new people, having once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and never looking back…that’s who I was meant to be!