Small Town Girl Turned World Traveler
Written By: Marissa Mararac
Born and raised in Rosebud, Texas with a population of approximately 1,300 people, Courtni Sladek always had the urge to travel.
She just never expected her travel-nursing career could be her way to see the world.
Starting In Texas
The desire to become a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) nurse came to her when she was a high school senior band student performing at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, in Dallas.
“In high school I was a band nerd and played the clarinet,” said Sladek, “Every year we’d have to do at least one performance at a children’s hospital, and in my senior year it hit me that I wanted to help these kids. Plus I’ve always said I have the food and movie taste of a five year old, so it just makes sense.”
After attending the University of Mary Hardin Baylor and receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, she continued working in Texas until her third year of nursing when her husband, Ryan, gave her the push to pursue a career in travel nursing.
“I had mentioned travel nursing before, but it was actually Ryan’s idea to pick up and move,” said Sladek, “It’s the most rewarding decision I’ve ever made for my life.”
Courtni and Ryan, along with their two dogs they call children, have lived the travel nursing lifestyle for the past four years. They’ve taken on a total of 14 assignments, and lived in destinations such as Chicago, Las Vegas, New York City, and Baltimore.
Of all the places they have lived, her favorite place has been in San Diego. The place she calls her “Soul City.”
Along with being near the beach and in exceptionally warm weather, the hospital where she worked made her feel like she had been there for 30 years. It was the first time in her career when she never minded going into work.
“There was something about Rady Children’s Hospital -- the people I worked with were great, and the staffing were set well and made it feel like you were supported,” said Sladek.
Travel Nurses Expand, Adapt, And Grow
Each assignment has not only helped grow in her knowledge of the cultural differences from state to state that the U.S. has to offer, but also her knowledge in the nursing field.
“One of main challenges that I’ve seen while working as a travel nurse is the different nurse mentalities,” said Sladek, “people do tasks in their own way and if one unit does it a specific way, then they may think your way is wrong.”
Sladek said that even though this has been one of the hurdles she has had to deal with while being a travel nurse it has actually helped her personally, giving her more confidence in knowing that she is doing her job well, and letting go of her insecurities.
“Coming into a new unit and potentially being judged by the way you do things definitely breaks you out of your comfort zone and allows you to be different,” said Sladek.
Small Hurdles, Big Benefits
Although there are minor challenges when it comes to being a travel nurse, the benefits can out way the hurdles.
“Our goal when I first started travel nursing was to find somewhere to settle down and now 4 years later we’re just traveling. I get anxiety with just the thought of settling down,” said Sladek.
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