Working Tourists: A Decade of Friendship, Marriage and Travel Nursing
January 2017 marked the tenth year that Carland and Myra Baker have been travel nurses. During this decade of care, they have traveled near and far, from mountain towns to big cities and all the while working right beside their best friend. Theirs is a playful relationship, full of laughter and mutual respect. It’s a partnership in every way, from planning their next assignment to planning the next restaurant to try.
They first met during Carland’s first job as a nurse. He was fresh out of nursing school, and Myra was his preceptor at a hospital outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. They eventually decided to try travel nursing because neither of them wanted to get stagnant in their career and Myra had always wanted to travel.
“Carland was in the military,” Myra explains, laughing. “He was always talking about all of the different places he had seen. Eventually, I got tired of hearing about it and wanted to experience it for myself.”
Their first assignment in January 2007 was at the Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. While there, they experienced first-hand the devastation that had been left behind by Hurricane Katrina. At that time, much of the staff at the Medical Center was comprised of travelers and everyone felt like they were playing a role in the rebuilding of the Gulf Region.
Having been working tourists for such a long time, the Baker’s like to describe themselves as “jacks of all trades.” They have worked general Med/Surg, Med/Surg Oncology, Orthopedics, Neurology, Trauma, Cardiac and Stroke Units among others. They have made it a point to become as experienced as possible in a variety of specialties and it has resulted in them being able to coordinate their assignments to be together.
“Traveling has made our marriage stronger because we are together nearly 24-hours a day,” Carland says. “People tell us that they couldn’t tolerate working with their spouse and that it would be too much time together. For us, it’s just the opposite. We are best friends, so we don’t mind being around each other constantly. Our friendship makes our marriage stronger.”
They have enjoyed a couple of assignments in California. During their contract in the Bay Area, they chose to live on the beach in Pacifica where they watched the whales jumping and playing in the surf. They also made sure they did all of the touristy things, such as visiting Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and they also became frequent visitors to China Town for the cuisine. On a later assignment to the Sacramento area, they used the opportunity to visit Lake Tahoe. They had their family join them in Tahoe, but unfortunately, no one had much luck in the casinos!
When asked about what they would tell nurses who are thinking about becoming travelers, they are both quick to offer their encouragement.
“All of the different places you will go and all of the different people that you will meet are invaluable, and they will all help you to become a better nurse,” Myra explains.
Carland continues that thought, “You will have good times and bad times, but mostly good times! It may not be easy at first because you are out of your comfort zone, but the one thing that is comforting is that “Nursing is Nursing,” no matter where you are. You will always have that to lean on because that part of travel nursing doesn’t change.”
Together, they are working on deciding where to tackle their next assignment. Myra is set on going to Alaska, but Carland is not a fan of the cold weather. He is trying to compromise by telling her to wait until summer time so he can go salmon fishing and not freeze to death. As of this writing, they are still at an impasse on Alaska. Myra insists that to properly experience Alaska, you have to go during the winter months. We’ll have to stay tuned on that decision.
Based on their happy-go-lucky attitudes, no matter where Myra and Carland end up going, they are going to have a great time!