Last week, SkillGigs’ VP of Marketing Amanda Betts, sat down with one of our talented foreign-trained travel nurses, Elaine. Amanda reached out to Elaine to have a recorded conversation about her life as an international travel nurse, what it’s like working with SkillGigs, as well as advice for others considering to be a SkillGigs travel nurse. Below is the full recording followed by the transcript. The conversation is fun and light-hearted and an easy listen on your daily commute! Elaine’s advice and commentary are great for all travel nurses, no matter where you are located.
You will see clips of the video recording on social media too!
As we get into this, could you let me know your first name as well as the job?
I’m Elaine Karaganda and I’m a registered nurse.
And Elaine, where are you originally from?
I’m originally from the Philippines, so I was a nurse back in our country and then I work in different overseas countries as well as a registered nurse before coming here in the US.
What other countries have you worked in?
I’ve worked in Abu Dhabi in Middle East for two years and then I work in the UK for. A little over three years.
So, in total, how long have you been a registered nurse?
Since I had my licensure exam back in the Philippines have been. A nurse almost 10 years. I’ve worked in different healthcare settings.
Whenever someone says 10 years, it’s like double high five. So, what is your favorite part of being a nurse?
I think having been able to experience different healthcare settings because I started from a a small Community Hospital back in our country and then I work in public health, I work in home care and then I transferred. I think one of the biggest things that I can say as part of my job being a nurse is being able to see the patients achieve their like optimum well-being. After all the gruesome diagnosis that they have in the hospital at the same time. I think the most rewarding part is like seeing them getting back to their own fee and going back to their normal lives. Compared to like seeing them in the hospital bed and struggling with their health conditions, I think that’s the most rewarding job about being a nurse.
I think if you went into this profession and not enjoying when you see your patients get better, you’re probably in the wrong profession. So, that’s probably the reason why you enjoy nursing because it helps balance some of the unfortunately the ugly stuff that happens to patients but caring for your patients and hoping that you never see them again and see them go off be happy and healthy.
That’s the ultimate goal.
So, it’s my understanding that you coming to America to take the nursing gig in Houston, was under SkillGigs, that’s your first time coming to the US for nursing, right?
Yes, ma’am. It’s my first time, so. I came fromthe Philippines. I’m located right now in Houston, TX. I work as a registered nurse in a post surgical unit, so my goal to work in America started all the way when I work. Started working in the Middle East so work there as a home care nurse and then that’s when I start. Like to like I told myself that I want to work in America because of the high standards for healthcare services. So, I took my exam there and then I wasn’t sure if I’m ready to go to America that time, although I have already.
I’ve already seen a lot of recruitment agencies all the way back in the Middle East before, but I told myself I want to work in acute care settings or in a hospital.
So I told myself because I’m working on a home care setting I want to have an experience first in a acute care setting, like in a hospital before going to America. So that’s why I started to look for agencies going to the UK. I applied as staff nurse in the UK, so I was successfully, I successfully landed the job in the hospital.
And then after gaining that experience, that’s when I’m already started finding agencies for America. I started looking for agencies. So I stumbled upon a a traditional agency. See where I applied for my job as a nurse here in America, and then they transferred me to SkillGigs.
So that’s where I found out about SkillGigs. That’s the whole story about it.
Great. No, that’s good. I mean to be a travel nurse is always a journey. To be a foreign trained travel nurse is a bigger journey. You’re taking bigger leaps of faith. You’re putting more trust and hoping that everything lands the way that you want so.
How long have you been on contract under SkillGigs?
I’ve started my contract in SkillGigs way back in September 2022, so maybe almost eight months now. And yeah, I think so, yeah.
So can I ask you this question? What are some of the biggest differences from past relationships or past things that you’ve done on contract versus working for SkillGigs?
From what I have heard before, from traditional agencies back in the UK with the same with SkillGigs, they have almost the same packages, if I can say that one. The only thing probably is that SkillGigs have onboarding, unlike from other traditional agencies, we don’t do that one, but we do like some trainings in the hospitals itself, but there’s no like onboarding during medical exam and all the stores and doing online training.
So it’s kind of different from the traditional agency, which is like working training in the hospital itself at the same time. SkillGigs has the opportunity for you to they give will give you the opportunity to like explore and I mean, give you more opportunities to progress in your career and like become more professional nurse in the America.
I love that. So, let’s go back to the onboarding piece. Because it is my understanding that’s an area where we do things a little bit differently, could you describe to me your onboarding experience with SkillGigs?
At first it was completely different to what I used to, so it was completely online, so I was accustomed to like doing physical training like, face to face.
It I find it easier because you don’t need to like attend the face-to-face training and all the sorts of doing online gives you more time, especially with terms of adjustment, because you’re completely new to the place, to the culture and to the environment. It gives me enough time to, like, settle all the things while still doing my online training.
I think that’s the thing that I find it more manageable when it comes to like onboarding compared to like the traditional agencies that I have.
Good feedback. There’s definitely good feedback.
One of the questions I have and this kind of kind of goes back to the earlier discussion about the journey that you’ve taken with your career, but I love to ask now, what made you decide to pursue a career as an international travel nurse? Because it’s a big jump.
Yeah, maybe one of the driving factor that pushed me to become an international travel nurse is really my American dream. It because, it’s been like years that I really wanted to become like a fully fledged nurse in America and experiencing a high quality healthcare services and practice at the same time.
The fact that I was able also to experience working also in different units.
Back when I was in the UK, I think it that’s also a factor that led me to like becoming an international travel international travel nurse because I will get experience some other skills or maybe I can transfer to different units.
So, I have already an idea how it works. Because I also do like agencies back in the UK to different hospitals. It’s a big it’s a big jump for me and becoming an international travel nurse, it’s completely new.
Coming from other country and then working there for like 3 years or five years becoming an international travel [nurse] give you the opportunity to like explore more things.
And yeah. I think that’s it.
Yeah, I love that. So, what kind of advice would you give if you met a younger version of yourself or let’s say somebody else in your family is like, ‘hey, I want to be an international travel nurse’. What advice would you give them?
I think there are two things that I really want to advise them is to become resilient and flexible.
Resilient in terms like that, you’re going to face challenges in difficult times, especially if you’re going to a completely different country and environment. And in order for you to like adjust to the routine and be able to survive the day. You have to be resilient like you need to stand up, be assertive, and be confident with all your skills and knowledge so that you get along the way at the same time being flexible.
[Knowing] just one skill or just like not, just enough knowledge to go on, it’s not enough.
You have to be…You have to learn how to do a lot of things you have to read books, watch trainings and videos, and make yourself familiar with all the routines in the hospital.
And that way you can fully adjust. And you’ll be able to work in different settings or different colleagues. And that will make you become a successful person, not just only probably in workplace, but also in like in your lives, like very resilient and flexible man.
Resilient and flexible. So that’s probably a good [choice] for a lot of people’s careers being to be little bit resilient or self reliant too. Like you have to really have good self-awareness and trust in yourself a lot. So definitely good advice.
What do you need to feel supported? While you’re on assignment.
Maybe just simple support, maybe like physical or online, like knowing that there’s someone you can ask questions too about your frustrations or about your tough day at work or anything that will give you a guide throughout your journey becoming like an international travel nurse.
Like for me like being here in America is a completely new journey and it’s it was a culture shock. It’s a different environment, people, the practices. So it was like back to 0. And knowing that if you have like enough support from people that you can count on, you can ask questions.
I think that’s a bit, but I think for me that’s the best thing that you can have being and like being an international travelers.
And do you feel like you get that with your connection at SkillGigs?
Oh, yes, ma’am. Kristine (a SkillGigs healthcare team member who works directly with our foreign trained nurses and various clients) was really I heaven sent.
I don’t think [I would have been] able to adjust the smoothly with my transition without the support I had.
So what do you wish staffing firms, recruiters, employers knew about your life as an international travel nurse. Is there any kind of nugget that you feel they knew [that would]make a better experience for you.
I think they should know, I mean recruitment and agencies should also like be prepared for nurses accommodation, which I have also already in the skilled things and same thing with transportation especially like ifthe nurse is coming from a place that has, like a public transport.
So if they go to America and there’s no transport, it might a little bit difficult to adjust.
But although I was able to find solutions for that I think it would be nice for like recruiters and agencies to also open this kind of issues to the nurse before they come to America.
So please they can get ready and yeah, they won’t be able to like adjust difficult when they come here.
Good point though. No pressure in answering this question.
Would you recommend SkillGigs to somebody who is considering coming to the US?
Yes, of course. I [would] consider SkillGigs because I find it’s the only [solution] that I found that allow nurses to like explore.
So I was really happy and satisfied that I work in SkillGigs.
That’s great. I’m happy to hear that. Tell them to come on over.
I do. I really do appreciate you taking some time out. But you know, there’s something that we’re trying to do here that’s different.
Purposely different because it’s time now that we need to make changes in terms of how people are hired. Whether you are US based or offshore based, there’s some new ways to make things better for you, the talent trying to explore and get the experience that you need and that’s what we’re trying to do here at SkillGigs. Is to find those nuances that might just be a little bit different, but they make the world of difference to you. Right?
So I do appreciate you joining.
Thank you, ma’am. You have a good day.
Take care. Bye.