By Sarah Wengert
In the wild world of nursing, there’s not much time for formal on-the-job mentorships. Like so many elements of healthcare, time is at an absolute premium. And so, the many valuable mentorships our Medical Solutions travelers tell us about tend to be on the floor and on the fly, as nurses are accustomed to. From a life-changing time with “Nurse Ratchet” to gaining perspective in the county from peers, here are two of their stories.
Nurse Ratchet Shares Her Heart
The identity of Kristine Feauto’s nursing mentor came as a bit of a shock and just goes to show how things can change. Her mentor was a nurse she worked with many years ago as a CNA — one that she and fellow staff had nicknamed “Nurse Ratchet!”
“In all reality, she was a very good, strict nurse, and she had heart,” said Feauto. “When I saw her years later and she asked what I’d been up to, I told her I was in nursing school. She smiled and said, ‘Oh lord, help us all.’ Then she hugged me and said, ‘You’ll make a great nurse, you have heart.’ That’s a moment I’ve never forgotten.”
Despite the “Nurse Ratchet” nickname, Feauto came to learn a lot from her mentor. She also found that commonality of heart — a must for nurses. Now, thanks to her mentor’s example, she’s got a great career making a lasting difference in others’ lives.
“I have two patients from my second contract that still call me every week to see how I’m doing and ask when I’m coming back,” Feauto said. “This is what matters to me. The lives that have touched me and the lives I’ve touched. Nursing is in my blood; always has been.”
Five years ago, Feauto was merely giving a reference check for a friend when the travel nursing bug bit.
“At the end of the conversation, I found myself hired and getting ready to embark on a new journey,” Feuato said, noting that she only wishes she’d started traveling earlier and looks forward to many more travel adventures.
“Travel nursing has been an amazing experience,” Feauto said. “I started in North Dakota. My favorite places I’ve been are on the East Coast: Maine, Virginia, and North Carolina.”
Feauto said that, like anything, traveling hasn’t always been sunshine and roses. It also comes with challenges, including the stray hostile environment where the staff dislikes travelers. She’s kept her aim on care in those rare circumstances and reminded herself that she’s strong and can make it through obstacles.
“I’m there for the patients, and if l make friends along the way, great, but I’m there for the patients,” Feauto said. “I have made some very good friends — both fellow travelers and patients. COVID was a challenge and occasionally still is. It’s all part of being a nurse. I just keep my head up and keep going.”
A City Nurse Goes Country
One of Sadie Frohnapple’s favorite things about travel nursing is that, sometimes, it takes her to the most unexpected places where life lessons are just waiting to be learned. That’s exactly what happened when her plans changed unexpectedly, and she needed to find a new assignment quickly.
“My amazing recruiter immediately went on the hunt to find me a new assignment,” said Frohnapple. “The offer I received was for a location and hospital size that I’d never planned on adding to my travel nursing bucket list. Nonetheless, I moved to a town I’d never heard of in central Illinois and started work at a hospital with 25 beds.”
In Frohnapple’s case, it wasn’t just one mentor but a hospital full of plucky, resourceful small-town nurses whose experiences and guidance showed her a completely new aspect of the profession. Raised in the city, it was definitely a big change but one that came to enhance her nursing practice.
“My first night at the hospital, I started to get a glimpse into why the wind blew me here,” she said. “I immediately clicked with the staff nurses, and I even remember one of them on my first night saying, ‘So, you’re renewing your contract, right?’ As weeks turned into months, I continued to renew my contract because of the impact the staff nurses were having on me, not only as a nurse, but as an individual.”
While Frohnapple was already an established nurse, she learned an entirely new set of skills in her time with these team members.
“They showed me the difference this critical access hospital makes to the community it serves,” she said. “They are the ones that stand up for their community’s health access and fight for the best care possible regardless of the amount of resources. It was a privilege to work with and learn from each one of them. I am so thankful to have had them embrace me as a co-worker and a friend.”
Although Frohnapple’s since moved on to new locations, she said the lessons these nurses taught her travel with her everywhere she goes.
“Being embraced by the community and experiencing small-town life was wonderful,” said Frohnapple. “Because of them, I jumped on the opportunity to work at another small hospital for my upcoming assignment.”
Want to join these incredible healthcare pros and share why you answered the call to care? Or share an amazing experience you’ve had as a traveler or healthcare professional? Send your story to CalledtoCare@medicalsolutions.com, and we’ll contact you if your story is chosen.
Sarah Wengert is a senior content specialist for Medical Solutions.