December 21, 2021

Singing a Travel Nurse’s Praises

Man in backpacking gear standing in front of red rock landscape

He’s taken several leaps in life and always seems to go above and beyond what is expected of him.

AJ is an ICU travel nurse on assignment in New Mexico, but his journey as a healthcare professional didn’t start right out of high school. He was a deejay for 13 years before he decided to go to college to pursue his nursing degree. When he began the nursing program, he says, “I immediately knew I had found my calling.” After four years as a staff nurse, he made another career move – he took his first assignment as a TNAA travel nurse in Oct. 2020.

“I think you just get static in certain parts of your life,” he explained. “I felt like those points in my life were times I needed a change.”

Now, he’s making connections nationwide, and he’s been a positive light in his patients’ lives.

Minor Acts That Strike a Major Chord

AJ remembers a particular patient – a woman in her mid-20s who had an extended hospital stay due to COVID-19 and required a ventilator and tracheostomy. COVID-19 put her life on hold and kept her away from the people she loved the most. The lengthy stay, the procedures, and the isolation were taking a toll on her mental state. 

Due to her illness, the patient’s body wasn’t working like it usually would, but AJ helped her through those discouraging and frustrating times. With understanding and sympathy, he earned her trust. The patient seemed to be perking up, which is why AJ was surprised to find her sobbing one night.

“She told me that her sister was having her last high school choir performance the next night, and she was devastated that she was going to miss it,” AJ recalled. “She was begging me, ‘Please let me go see it.’”

That wasn’t an option, but the nurse decided he would reach out to the sister’s school to see what could be done. Working with the school, AJ made arrangements so the patient could stream the concert on an iPad. He even brought in a Bluetooth speaker to make her feel like she had a front-row seat.

“I know it wasn’t as great as seeing it in person, but she was extremely happy to watch it,” AJ recalled. “I feel like it was just a small act that had a big impact on her.” 

A few days later, the patient was discharged to rehab. The medical care she received was a tremendous factor in her getting better but finding a friend to lift her spirits seemed to help, too.

“That’s an even better feeling than anything is watching these patients who have been there for so long finally get to recover,” AJ smiled.

TNAA’s #bethegood Campaign

AJ’s positive and helpful nature is what inspired TNAA Recruiter Ashley Hazen to nominate him for our #bethegood campaign, where we amplify the stories we hear of how healthcare workers are making a difference in the lives around them.

Man in dark clothing and baseball cap stands in front of mountain landscape

“Although he won’t admit it, AJ is one of the brightest stars I’ve ever encountered,” Ashley said. “He is truly a blessing to everyone he meets and comes with a shining smile and a positive outlook on life.”

“Having her say that gives me even more motivation to continue doing what I’m doing and being the person I am,” AJ responded. “I try to be a good teammate to my coworkers and to be reliable, kind, and compassionate to my patients.”

Read more stories about healthcare workers like AJ by visiting TNAA’s #bethegood page.