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Bad weather can hit in time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Bad weather can hit any time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Have you been caught in turbulent weather: Possible tornadoes like the tragedy that happened in Moore Oklahoma; April blizzards in the Dakotas. So far it’s been anything but “spring-like.” To top it all off, experts are saying the upcoming hurricane season could be worse than last year. One scientist even said watch out for Super Storm Sandy 2.0!

As healthcare travelers, you very well could find yourself assigned to any of the states that repeatedly get battered by hurricanes. Or you could be on contract in one of the 45 states and U.S. territories labeled as “moderate to very high risk” of earthquakes. Remember the 5.8 quake that struck Washington, D.C. back in 2011?

So what if you happen to be assigned to an area that falls victim to Mother Nature’s whim; would you know how to react? Do you have the emergency supplies readied?

The following are a few essentials to keep on hand and advice on how to stay safe as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign (ready.gov).

THE BASICS
• Extra prescription meds and eyeglasses along with first-aid supplies.
• Water, nonperishable food, and pet food for three days. Remember dietary requirements for both you and your animals. Tip: Avoid salty foods.
• Keep copies of pertinent documents—insurance policies, identification, medication list, allergy list, and bank accounts—in a waterproof container.
• Paper towels, plates, and plastic cups and utensils. Oh yeah, and a manual can opener so you can get to the food.
• Change of clothes, including cold/hot weather attire. Also, stash an extra blanket.
• Battery powered or hand-crank radio and cell phone charger. Don’t forget extra batteries.
• Refresh the kit every few months. Tip: When it’s time to change the clocks, it’s time to change supplies.

EARTHQUAKE EXPECTATIONS
• Keep a pair of durable shoes and a flashlight near your bed.
• Stay inside and find cover from falling objects.
• Ask the hospital where you are assigned about its earthquake response plan.
• If the shaking starts while you’re driving, park in a clear area. Avoid bridges, overpasses, ramps, and of course, power lines.
• Don’t expect to be one and done. Aftershocks can follow for days, even weeks, after the initial rattler. Make no mistake, aftershocks are still earthquakes and should be treated as such.

HURRICANE HOW-TOS
• Tune into a NOAA Weather Radio (noaawatch.gov) for real-time updates from the National Weather Service.
• Bring in outdoor plants or furniture that could be tossed around by winds.
• Turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. In the case of power outages, your food will stay colder longer.
• Fill up your gas tank.

TORNADO THOUGHTS
• Find a safe location, like a basement, storm cellar, interior room, or hallway.
• If in a car, keep your seatbelt on, duck below the windows, and cover your head.

Predicting Mother Nature’s next move is a fool’s game, but it never hurts to be prepared wherever you are assigned.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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If you haven’t heard of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, then chances are you don’t work in healthcare. U.S. News & World Report has named the renowned medical institution one of the country’s best hospitals 20 years running. The prestige intrigued Nancy Coney, RN, BSN, an emergency room nurse with experience in surgical recovery care.

“People from all over the world seek treatment there,” she says.

It was a prime opportunity to add the revered teaching hospital to her résumé.

Once in a Lifetime

Practicing in such a preeminent facility was not something to pass up. So last spring she agreed to a contract in the emergency department at The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, a 560-bed hospital within the larger Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore, Md. Both assignments were secured by Clinical One, a staffing firm located in Wakefield, Mass.

After 13 weeks, she moved onto the surgery recovery unit at the system’s main facility.

“They do a lot of research and are on the cutting-edge of medicine,” she says of her choice. “Plus, the two hospitals share some of the same programs, so I thought it would be an easy transition instead of starting a new contract somewhere else. And, I like the city.”

More than Medicine

Thanks to Baltimore’s convenient locale, Coney and her boyfriend — who flies in on his days off — have taken in the sights of surrounding cities. Some, of which, she has been eager to see.

“We have been to Washington, D.C., Mount Vernon, Annapolis, Md., and Ocean City, Del.”

Before the assignment wraps up in April, she has considered exploring areas of Pennsylvania and taking a day trip to New York City. But her most memorable experience to date was meeting her first grandchild, born last fall.

“My daughter had a scheduled caesarean section, so I requested some time off,” remembers Coney. “My managers worked with me so I could spend about a week with my grandbaby. Both mother and infant are doing well.”

As for future bucket list must-dos, Coney remains open to possibilities. She may go to another coastal community, or visit family in Texas. One thing is certain, there will be plenty more trips to see her grandbaby.

Check out more travelers’ bucket list stories online or in the March issue of Healthcare Traveler.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer based in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Every year, people of all ages join forces across the country to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure fundraiser. For the past six years, Leah Palyu’s stepmother participated in the Seattle event, walking 60 miles in three days in support of breast cancer research. Palyu had always wanted to walk, too, but she was usually away on an assignment.

The September 2011 event was different. The medical/surgical and telemetry nurse found herself back in the Pacific Northwest, just in time lend her efforts.

“This was a dream of mine,” says the traveler with HRN Services Inc., a healthcare staffing company based in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I always wanted to participate in the 3-Day with my stepmom.”

Going Mobile

When she first set out on a mobile career, Palyu didn’t have a steadfast list of ultimate destinations or extreme adventures to mark off her bucket list. Palyu simply wanted to experience various communities.

“I wanted to see different subcultures in the Southwest, Northeast, and South because each has its own reputation. I thought there would be no better way to do that than by living there,” she explains.

Over time, however, she accumulated more dreams and wishes. For example, Boston held a fascination for her.

“I’m almost half Irish, so I wanted to check out Beantown. I had it all planned for when I was presented an assignment there: My family would come visit and, because my stepmother has always wanted to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we would take a trip to New York City for the holiday.”

Indeed, it looked like that’s exactly what would happen. Except, Palyu had met someone special while on assignment in Texas. He was attending nursing school at the time, and couldn’t join her on the road, so Palyu faced the decision of whether to head north or pursue a relationship.

“I decided to live in Texas until Chris graduated from nursing school. I didn’t stop traveling because he wanted me to, but because living apart was not an option for me — I did tell him that he still owes me Boston, though,” she says.

So Palyu temporarily retired from the mobile lifestyle.

Back on the Road

About a year ago, she resumed life on the road — now married to Chris, who practices as an emergency room nurse. First, on her to-do list, was to enter the fundraiser. Next was to celebrate the holidays with her relatives.

“For the past six or seven years, I have not made it home for the holidays. Once we were up here, I made sure I could take time off from my travel contract so I could be with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she comments.

Although happy to have reconnected with relatives and old friends, Palyu and her husband are anxious to chase their new bucket list dreams. For example, Chris has an interest in racing.

“He owns a few road race cars, so I’m sure we will make some stops in California, like to Laguna Seca Motorway near Monterrey,” she offers. “I would like to go back to Charleston, S.C., because we did a lot of our courting while I was on contract there, but I’d also like to see some of the national monuments,” she concludes.

Check out more travelers’ bucket list stories online or in the March issue of Healthcare Traveler.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer based in Simi Valley, Calif.

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