Honoring Our Military Nurses

by Scott Files, Staff Writer

Her enthusiasm was emblazoned on her face from the moment we first met. The photos she brought along, all snapshots of her long nursing career, each held an undeniable warmth and endearing smile that conveyed true happiness. We sat across from each other in what would have appeared a run-of-the-mill interview by any passersby; it turned out to be much more.

Travel Nursing Story Sure, there were questions and answers, but the in-between moments in our conversation painted a vibrant nursing history that was much larger than the sum of its parts; a roadmap of a bright-eyed girl who found not only her true calling, but her passion, along the way.

Her name is Myla Mason, and as you read on, I’m sure you’ll recognize the sincerity she exudes in the experiences she recounts. Her military service and private sector nursing work embody the great things nurses do every day all across this country. I imagine many of you, whether new to nursing or seasoned pros, will see some of yourself in the experiences she so readily shares.

In 1990, Myla was fresh out of nursing school, and in her words, “the world was an open door.” Coming from a military family, with both her father and brother in the Air Force, she decided that a short stint in the service would not only allow her the freedom to put her nursing degree to work, but would also provide opportunities to see theTravel Nursing Jobs- Myla Mason country—and even the world.

With tensions slowly building in the Middle East at the time, she was also ready to serve her country if they needed her. But more than anything, the world of pediatrics, the nursing specialty she felt closest to, was now finally at her fingertips.

“The military really prepared me for my nursing career,” she says, recounting the Air Force’s new grad training program. “It’s a fast-paced environment that provides such a broad array of experience, and I think that, in some ways, it even prepared me for the work I do today.”

“You kind of hit the ground running,” she recounts as she reels off the military hospitals she was stationed at both stateside and abroad, including time at Vandenberg and at a military installment in Misawa, Japan. “Each location held new experiences,” she says, “and new coworkers and opportunities” to work with the pediatrics population she so loved. Back then, there was only one thing missing, a scheduled deployment to the Middle East that never happened when the war ended.

As she thinks back to that time in her career, I can see the emotion on her face. I immediately think she regrets not having had that experience, but I’m wrong. Instead, she relays how that time defined her nursing career more than any other. “It was then that I became the true definition of a nurse,” she says, “Staffing was so thin because of overseas deployments that I was forced to grow and think outside what I thought I was capable of. I found a new kind of confidence, not only in my nursing skills, but also in my ability to adapt to new challenges and solve problems. It was that defining moment that I think all nurses share; the moment when you realize you are truly ready to spread your wings and fly.”

One such moment stands out in her mind. “It was during the war when we were really short staffed. A young man came in needing help. He wasn’t physically wounded, but just looked mentally exhausted. He was upset and angry, and since there was no one else to help him, I just did what came natural; I listened. It turned out to be my first experience with PTSD, and I found that lending a sympathetic ear was all it took to help him get through that trying moment.” That moment stayed with her throughout her time as a nurse, following her through new locations, hospitals, wards, and into each patient she ever encountered.

As her military career continued to blossom, Myla soon fell into a new role when she was asked to fill in in the labor and delivery unit. “There’s just something magical about bringing new life into the world, you’re there from the beginning,” she says, “I never knew how fulfilling it would be until I experienced it, and then it became my passion, helping military families, seeing the smiles on their faces, watching generations celebrate new life. “But there’s the dark side of that specialty, too,” she says “and when neonatal loss occurs, it never gets easier, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.” 

It was at those times when her earlier experience with that young PTSD patient were the most important; the way she listened to him and let him know that she cared.  “You become more than a nurse when you deal with grieving families, you’re almost like a counselor, and in some cases, a consoling family member. It’s by far the hardest part of the job.”    

Travel NursingAt this point, I imagine Myla’s story will resonate with anyone who reads it, working nurses or those contemplating a career in healthcare. While it’s a story of a woman who is passionate about nursing, it’s also a story of adventure and thinking outside of yourself. She laughs as she reiterates a point she made earlier about that short stint in the military. “It turned into 21 years.” And while she recognizes that her path may be different than others, she also maintains that “all nurses, no matter where their careers take them, share a need to be there for their patients. It’s just who we are.”

Myla now works as Clinical Director of Clinical Services at AMN Healthcare, using her experiences to help nurses achieve their goals as travel nurses. She equates the many locations she worked in during her long military and private career as her training ground for her position. “I like to think I help nurses grow,” she says. “Helping them harness the immense benefits they’ll gain from travel nursing is part of my job. It’s about the interpersonal relationships they’ll gain, the new experience on new computer systems, new patient populations, and the overall satisfaction they’ll get from helping out in facilities that really need them. I encourage anyone who craves new experiences to give travel nursing a chance. I truly believe it will help them grow their skill set at any point in their career.”

As our conversation ended, I asked Myla one final question. What is the one piece of advice that she would give to any nurse? Without hesitating, she quickly responded, “be open to new situations and opportunities, and don’t hesitate to spread your wings.”

Spread Your Wings as a Travel Nurse

The life of a travel nurse gives you the flexibility to work in a variety of healthcare facilities across the country. If you're ready to spread your wings and show the nursing world what you've got, we have lots of opportunities waiting. Simply complete the form on this page  and one of our experienced recruiters will contact you with help.  In the meantime, and to put your name ahead of other candidates, make sure to complete the NursesRX application process. Let's work together to make your nursing career soar to new heights.

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