By Sarah Wengert
What could possibly motivate a person to dedicate their life to being overworked and underappreciated at a difficult job where they often barely get the chance to visit the bathroom or take a meal break, and undergo intense physical, mental, and emotional stress? It takes a special person to go into this challenging yet rewarding career in care, and each has a unique, compelling reason. At Medical Solutions, we’ve worked with thousands of incredible travel nurses and allied health pros, and we’ve yet to hear a bad reason to become a healthcare professional. We recently asked several travelers to share their “why.” Join us as we explore the motivations of a handful of our past and present travelers.
Creation Haines, RN, BSN, Telemetry/Cardiac
“My reason for being a nurse stemmed from my childhood and challenges I faced while trying to be a successful parent, spouse, sibling, and citizen.”
Creation Haines grew up with drugs and alcohol in her household — when there was a house for her to live in — and was the seventh child of 11. Her father ended his life at age 52, after a tumultuous life of drug abuse, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) requiring oxygen, and untreated hepatitis C.
“After watching this torturous lifestyle and cycle of pain, being responsible for caring for my younger siblings and watching my mother use drugs to ease her pain, I found my future husband and moved to make myself and my family a better place in the world,” Haines said.
Haines was in school in Arizona when her eldest sister, a nurse practitioner, encouraged her to move to New York to finish nursing school. To do so, she’d have to move her family across the country, leaving behind the only life she ever knew. Even though her life in Arizona had been rough, Haines said she cried for hours at the thought of moving so far away from her mother and brothers. On the other hand, she felt moved to “do everything for [her] children to give them a chance that was very slim for [herself] at their age.”
“In May of 2014, we took a leap of faith and a three-day drive,” she said. “We came to New York so I could finish nursing school and do God’s work, [caring] for the less fortunate and helping people at the most vulnerable times of their lives.”
The family’s leap of faith was not in vain. Haines now improves her patients’ lives just as she improved her own family’s life by breaking a tough generational cycle.
“Each day I wake up I look for an opportunity to make a difference, and nursing does just that,” said Haines. “I’m currently an ER nurse when I’m at my home hospital and a telemetry/cardiac nurse [when] traveling. It’s the best feeling ever to support another life so they feel better, or to ease their pain until God takes them home.”
Hallie Hurt, RN, ER
“My great-grandmother was a nurse, but I had no idea until I went to nursing school.”
Hallie Hurt said she often hears nurses joke about why they went into nursing, especially since the pandemic, saying things like, “I don’t even know why I’m a nurse.”
“I feel like we question that more now than ever,” said Hurt, who’s been a nurse for about eight years. “We joke about it, but there’s always a bit of truth in every joke.”
Hurt said people always ask her and her colleagues, “Why did you become a nurse?” Most answers are because a loved one was a nurse and they’re following in their footsteps. Another answer she’s heard a lot is they had a life-changing experience with a nurse and that empowered them to become one.
Hurt’s answer started with a teenager’s laugh and a firm “No way,” and ended in her feeling her healthcare calling in her bones.
“I grew up in a family of educators. I’ll never forget my mother asking me in the car, on the way home senior year, what I wanted to do after I graduated. I said, ‘I think I want to be a teacher!’ She immediately told me no. I was so confused. Without missing a beat, she asked, ‘What about a nurse?’ I laughed — LAUGHED. I told her that was definitely not something I wanted to do. So, naturally, I started taking prerequisites for a nursing program. I figured I’d try it out just to see if I liked it.”
It’s a mighty good thing Hurt followed her opposite instincts because it landed her in the right spot.
“I remember my first day of clinicals. That was the day I knew it was for me and I was in the right place. I could feel it in my bones,” said Hurt. “Have you ever felt so strongly about anything before, that you can feel it in your bones? I’ve never looked back, only forward, and I’ve worked hard to become the best nurse I can possibly be for my patients. I try my best to be the kind of nurse I want for my family.”
Hurt said her grandparents were her heroes because they were strong-willed, well-educated, goal-driven, loving, welcoming, and warm. Because of their many fine qualities, Hurt has always strived to emulate them. She said that’s why she answered the call to care, especially during the pandemic.
“We needed people who cared — whole-heartedly cared,” said Hurt. “The emergency room is already a tough place to work; it’s a sink or swim type of place. That goes for anyone else working the frontlines of healthcare. Then we were thrown into a fiery pit of hell known as COVID. I had to be there, had to be the hand to hold for that person going on a vent, knowing they would never come off it … to be the calming person for those patients who were alone, scared, and knew they were dying. I had to step up and serve my community just as my grandpa served in the military. I had to be the backbone for my ER team just like my grandmother was the backbone of our family and so many other families she led through education.”
“I’ve never felt more called to be a nurse than I do right now, especially during these times,” said Hurt. “It’s never been just one patient who gives me reasons to continue to answer the call to care. It’s every patient who gives me the reason as to why I answered it.”
Phoebe Ingrum, CNA
“Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to somehow be able to help and care for people.”
When she was a child, Phoebe Ingrum’s great-grandmother, Chris, started to develop Alzheimer’s.
“She was the person that would always watch my sister and I before and after school. The person that would chase me around the yard when I got in trouble and I, of course, thought it was funny to run from her. When she started getting sick, I jumped right in and helped take care of her because she took care of me,” said Ingrum.
Great-grandma Chris eventually moved to Texas to live with other relatives. Ingrum vividly recalls her family visits to see Chris in the Lone Star State.
“Every single time we were there, we always went rock hunting for what I called ‘gold rocks.’ They were up and down the driveway where my great-grandmother lived with my grandma Janie. She’d have her walker and would fill the inside with rocks for us to clean and keep. After a couple of years of hunting for the ‘gold rocks’ she gave them all to me. To this day, I still have those rocks to remind me of the times we spent together. My great-grandmother is one of the main reasons I choose to go into healthcare. Taking care of her and being able to make her smile and laugh in her last years was the best thing.”
After great-grandma Chris passed away, Ingrum began caring for her grandma Janie, who’s now had a series of four back surgeries, with complications, for her scoliosis.
“I was with her for each surgery,” said Ingrum. “I’d help her get to the bathroom, shower, and help change her dressings. After her fourth surgery, she moved in with my parents and me. We made her a little tiny home behind our house, and she’s lived there about six years now. She’s doing much better.”
While the call to care started with family for Ingrum, she’s just as passionate about caring for her patients.
“I’ve always wanted to help people — it started with just family or little things for friends,” she said. “Now, I get to work in hospitals… to see people who are so sick get better and go home. The smiles and happiness on their faces make my heart happy. Even though there are nights at work that aren’t the easiest, I’d do it all over again. Working in a hospital is very tough but also extremely rewarding. Getting to walk into a patient’s room and make them laugh makes the tough days easier. Talking to patients during my free time and hearing about their stories and backgrounds makes me happy. I would not change my career for anything.”
Kamekka Reed, LPN, Corrections
“I was basically forced to grow up at a young age and became a nurturing person.”
Kamekka Reed decided to answer the call of care for a few reasons.
“Growing up with drug-addicted parents, I had to learn to take care of me and my sister,” said Reed. “What really made me decide to become a nurse was when I had my children. I was a teenager going through preterm labor and was admitted to the high-risk OB unit. The nurses I had were so amazing. They were catering, patient, loving, nurturing, supportive, sympathetic, and empathetic.”
Reed had the same nurses with both her children because they each wanted her as a patient. At that point she said she told herself, “That’s the kind of nurse I want to be. I want to be a nurse [whose] patients feel safe and comfortable with me.”
As Reed grew older, she watched carefully as nurses cared for her family members, especially her nanny, who was HIV-positive. She said she wanted to make sure her loved ones received proper care from their medical professionals.
“That’s when I enrolled in a nursing program,” Reed said. “During this one-year program is when I knew that nursing was truly my calling.”
Then, just three months into nursing school, her father passed away. Reed later lost her nanny two weeks before she finished nursing school.
“I almost quit because I felt like the people I was doing this for were no longer around to see what I learned,” she said. “The love and support from the nursing students and nursing teachers was what made me realize I have the ability to use what I learned with other people and their families. I can be sympathetic, empathetic, nurturing, catering, patient, supportive, and loving. I have been a nurse for 11 years now and I’ve seen that everything I’ve gone through in my life made it easier for me to relate to my patients and their families. Being able to answer the call to care is something that I am most proud of about myself.”
Thanks for the Inspiration
Kamekka, Phoebe, Hallie, and Creation, thank you so much for sharing your stories and personal motivations for becoming a healthcare professional. We celebrate each of you and appreciate all you do for your patients, their families, and the facilities you grace across the country!
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 reach out to you if your story is chosen.
Sarah Wengert is a senior content specialist for Medical Solutions.