By Aubrey Schieuer
This month’s State Spotlight takes us to incredible Iowa! The Hawkeye State is known for the bike enthusiasts of RAGBRAI, the quirkiness of the Iowa State Fair, and some remarkably affordable places to live. Read on to see why Iowa is a fun destination for Travel Nurses of all backgrounds.
Travel Nursing in Iowa
Travel Nurses will appreciate how living in Iowa balances practical things like affordability, safety, and stability with amazing opportunities to see unique landscapes and places. Iowa is home to about 125 hospitals — 6 of which meet high enough standards to be ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s 2018/2019 Best Hospitals list. That includes their #1-ranked Iowa hospital, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, which is nationally ranked in 7 adult specialties and 4 children’s specialties, in addition to being ranked “High Performing” in four additional adult specialties and four procedures/conditions. Rounding out the top five overall best hospitals in Iowa are: Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids, UnityPoint Health-Iowa Methodist in Des Moines, and Genesis Medical Center in Davenport.
U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 “Best States” list put Iowa at the very top as the #1 state in the country. Along with the coveted best spot, Iowa ranked #1 for ultra-fast internet access, #2 for housing, #3 for affordability, and #3 for health care! How’s that for the cream of the crop? Also, Livability.com ranked Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Ames, Marion, Waterloo, Sioux City and Iowa City as among the best places to live in Iowa.
As for licensing, Iowa is not a walk-through state, but it is a NURSYS and a compact state. Click here for more, up-to-date info on licensing in Iowa.
Iowa Fast Facts
State Nickname: The Hawkeye State
Capital: Des Moines
Largest City: Des Moines
National Parks: 2
State Parks: 87
National Historic and Natural Landmarks: 35
State Motto: “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
State Flower: Wild Rose
State Tree: Oak
State Bird: American goldfinch
State Rock: Geode
Iowa was the 29th state.
Remember that famous painting, American Gothic? The artist, Grant Wood, lived and painted in Iowa, and most of his work was based on typical Midwestern scenes. You can even visit the house that inspired the iconic painting in Eldon and get your picture taken while wearing the same clothes as the painting.
Iowa is bordered by Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
Inventions from Iowa include sliced bread, the trampoline, the radio, and the digital computer!
More than 25% of Iowa’s electricity comes from wind power.
Iowa’s state flag is patterned after the national French flag, since before statehood, Iowa used to be part of French Louisiana.
Think Iowa is just farmland? Think again! Iowa’s urban population outnumbers its rural population 61.1% to 38.9%.
Iowa is the only state whose east and west borders are formed entirely by rivers.
Famous people hailing from Iowa include James Dean, Johnny Carson, Donna Reed, Gene Wilder, Andy Williams, Ashton Kutcher, Shawn Johnson, Elijah Wood, and President Herbert Hoover. Iowa is also the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.
Iowa has more golf courses per capita than any other state.
At a concert in Des Moines in 1982, the famous singer Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off of a bat. Yes, really! A fan threw the bat onstage and Ozzy thought it was a rubber toy. He went to the hospital immediately after the show to get treated for rabies.
The Field of Dreams film was shot in Dyersville. You can visit the movie site yourself and participate in Ghost Sundays. Other movies filmed in Iowa include Children of the Corn, The Bridges of Madison County, and Twister.
Sabula is Iowa’s only island city. With a small population of 576, Sabula boasts beaches and a campground, and is a popular tourist destination for the people of Chicago.
The number of chickens in Iowa outnumbers the human populations of California and Texas combined!
There’s a National Hobo Convention that meets the second week of August every year. Since 1900, the town of Britt has hosted this unique gathering of people. Annual traditions include a Saturday morning parade and the crowning of the Hobo King and Queen.
To Do & See in Iowa
Iowa has so much more than you might think! There are lots of fun places to go and things to do in a state full of opportunities and adventure.
The first Iowa State Fair was held at Fairfield in 1854, at a cost of just $323. Nowadays, over 1 million people come every year to Des Moines to listen to music, ride the Ferris wheel, and see lots and lots of well-bred animals. And you can’t miss the annual butter sculpture – the quirkiest tribute to art and butter you’ll ever see. Previous butter sculptures include the Peanuts gang, The Last Supper by Da Vinci, Star Trek characters, and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Adventureland is a fun amusement park located outside Des Moines. There are roller coasters for thrill-seekers, a water park called Adventure Bay, and live entertainment from magic shows and circus acts to live music and juggling. With over 100 rides, shows, and attractions, you’re sure to have a great time!
On the eastern side of the state, you can explore natural formations at the Maquoketa Caves State Park, which contains more caves than any other state park. There are walk-in caves to explore, as well as caves that you need to crawl through on your hands and knees. Journey on over to the western side of Iowa to see the Loess Hills, a unique landscape of prairie and forest-covered steep bluffs. Don’t forget your camera! The Loess Hills make for some beautiful hiking and breathtaking scenery.
Do you love to bike? RAGBRAI is the largest bike touring event in the world. The full name, Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, is a bit of a mouthful. RAGBRAI has been going on since 1973 and thousands make the week-long bicycle trek across the state. Usually held in July, the event is limited to 8,500 riders. And beyond one-time biking events like RAGBRAI, there are 1,800 miles of bike trails for you to explore across the beautiful state.
Oh, and it goes without saying that you won’t be disappointed with Iowa’s food offerings. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Maid-Rite, a loose meat sandwich that was first made in Iowa. Scotcharoos, rhubarb pie, and puppy chow are unique Iowan dessert experiences you can’t find anywhere else. Wash it all down with a Boone Valley IPA or some Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey and you’ll be living like a true Iowan!