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Not everyone thinks of the sun when she looks for winter travel assignments. Some, like Erica Gagliardi, RN, a travel nurse with Cross Country TravCorps, think of the slopes. "You can be a ski bum with a job!! Some people flee to the sunny south, but I head for the hills in search of fresh powder," she says. "It's skiing, snowshoeing, and more skiing for me!!"
Before Gagliardi takes a winter assignment, she checks out the important work details, then she targets her personal preferences: "Can I work 12-hour shifts so I have adequate time off to enjoy my surroundings? How close am I to the ski slopes? How much does it cost to ski-as in, should I get a season pass somewhere? What are the average snow conditions?" The weather is key, she admits, and after spending a season in Boston 2 years ago that was disappointing because of poor snow conditions, she greatly enjoyed Denver's winter season last year.
"I plan to look for other opportunities to combine travel nursing and skiing," she says, "and in the meantime, I'll satisfy my craving by taking a week off during the winter months for a ski vacation." That's one big benefit of travel nursing-the flexible schedule; the downside, she admits, is that weeks off are unpaid. Still, she's made the most of her time, spending weeks skiing in Fernie, British Columbia, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Gagliardi hasn't seen any cutbacks on travel staff in the hospitals she's worked in. She says benefits seem to be the same as in the past, and locations are constantly changing depending on who needs nurses in different specialties.
"I'm hoping that there will be more international opportunities for American nurses," she says. "Currently, I've been able to find only two companies that offer this.
"My plans for this winter are up in the air, but I'm thinking I'll go back home to the Bay Area in California. It's only 3 or 4 hours from Lake Tahoe, where my family's had a cabin since before I was born. I haven't skied there for 3 years, and I really miss it. I think Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places I've been to.
"After my stint at home, I think Australia is in the cards. I'll likely go during our summer-and conveniently their winter-so I can experience some of the fabled New Zealand skiing.
"I've been a travel nurse for 3 years now, and I still love it," she says. "I think it's a great way to experience our diverse country. There are pros and cons with every job, but overall travel nursing is a great opportunity for everyone from sun worshippers to ski bums. See you on the slopes!!"
Suzanne Hauser Holland is a freelance writer in Meadowbrook, Pa.
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