The Atlas Life

Traveling Nurse Karen Waisman, PCU - The Atlas Life #68

Karen Waisman is a travel nurse currently on assignment in Rapid City, South Dakota. Karen is a traveling nurse and is joined by her husband, Phillip, and their dog, Alaska. Karen began travel nursing after getting in touch with her recruiter, Paul Baxter, through a mutual friend. Learn more about Karen's travel nursing life!

Recruiter, Paul Baxter bio:

Paul Baxter: I'm Paul Baxter. I'm a recruiter here at Atlas med staff.

Karen Waisman: My name is Karen Waisman. I'm a travel nurse.

Phillip Waisman: Phillip Waisman, I'm her husband.

Karen Waisman: My best friend was friends with Ashley, and her brother and Ashley are good friends. And Ashley says, "Well, I'm not a recruiter, so I'm going to hook you up with the best person I know," hence Paul. And I'm so glad Ashley referred me to Paul, because he has had our back the entire time. Not just that, but it's a lot to ask for somebody to work with the husband, and Paul is more than welcoming and they talk. I just show up and work. I love it.

Paul Baxter: When we first met it, it was made a point to me that, hey, listen, I travel with my husband and it's very important to me that my husband be involved where we're going, how we're getting there, be involved in the travel process. And so from the beginning, Phillip and I just hit it off, and so I typically call Phillip or text Phillip first, and then we chase, we follow up with Karen to make sure she's on board with the same things.

Karen Waisman: Our daughter was graduating high school and we went on a cruise, and this cruise was great. Somehow or another, every show, we sat next to these same people. And it's a huge ship, so I don't know how we sat next to these people every time. As soon as the lights went down, we'd watched the husband fall asleep. Not even 20, 30 minutes later, the wife would start nodding off. Usually, by intermission, they were gone. My husband said, "Well, this is so sad because they're finally able to retire and enjoy themselves, and they're too old to experience everything like they probably wanted to." So, our youngest graduated high school and we said, "Okay, you're in college. You're off doing your own thing, you're engaged. See ya."

Karen Waisman: Everywhere we go, we have made new friends. We'll go out to dinner with some people. He'll actually get to interact with them. So, to me, it's exploring new areas. With South Dakota, we're going to be 1,600 miles from home. So, instead of being able to go home like every third weekend and visit our family, we're going to have to rely on FaceTime and stuff like that to keep connected. But again, as long as we have each other-

Phillip Waisman: Right, and our dog.

Karen Waisman: And our dog.

Phillip Waisman: That's sleeping.

Paul Baxter: She's down there, y'all. Phillip sent me a text about three weeks before we got the assignment with a photograph of Alaska-

Phillip Waisman: Panting.

Paul Baxter: A video of video of Alaska panting. He's like, "Hey, man, I need you to help me out. My dog's dying here."

Phillip Waisman: It's only seven degrees out.

Paul Baxter: Right.

Karen Waisman: Working with Paul has been one of my best experiences.

Paul Baxter: Aw.

Karen Waisman: No, I'm serious. But he got me into Lynchburg, and that... Lynchburg, the central hospital, the people there were phenomenal. I mean, I felt like I was one of them and family, and he got me extensions. I mean, he works for us. So, meeting Paul has been one of the best things. My best assignment has been Lynchburg General. Some people really want you there as a traveler. Some people do not want you there as a traveler. They feel we're taking from them. I would say being in a non traveler-friendly hospital would be one of the worst experiences.

(Off-Camera): How do you overcome that then?

Karen Waisman: Make them like me. For Paul.

Paul Baxter: She does it every single time, though. It's amazing. I'll get a call at the first week, "Oh, this place. They hate me here. I'm going to make them love me." And three weeks later, "They love me. They're trying to get me to extend."

Karen Waisman: Specifically, there was one person who did not like me. Well, he was standoffish. He didn't really like many people at all, and I finally just came out and said, "Listen, you're going to like me before I leave." And he finally admitted, "Yeah, I like you. I'm going to miss you." We want to do a winter in Alaska and then continue spring.

Phillip Waisman: And into the late summer.

Paul Baxter: And so this has been... Alaska has been planned for quite a while. It's been a conversation, I think, since we first started talking is this whole plan to get to Alaska.

Karen Waisman: And we have our license.

Paul Baxter: And Rapid City, where you're headed right now, is just a step to bide your time until that opportunity comes available. So, Alaska has been a plan for you all for quite a while.

Phillip Waisman: Alaska.

Karen Waisman: Alaska.

Paul Baxter: Alaska.

Karen Waisman: And Alaska says it'll be snowing there. Alaska!

Phillip Waisman: She loves the snow and the cold weather. Just being able to go out and go to some of the areas, it's like you on vacation to a place and you plan it a year in advance and, yeah, you go there and it rains for the whole week. Well, with this opportunity, we can go there for 13 weeks. And if it rains that week or we don't want to go out, we can just wait until the following week. We just got the RV for this.

Paul Baxter: How long ago did you buy it?

Phillip Waisman: We bought it like four weeks ago, and we've actually used it only like three days, including last night. We've already run into a little bit of challenges trying to find places up in... What do you call it? South Dakota, because there's the big surges thing going on. So, everything's kind of booked, but we've already got some leads and everything else for other places. And With the RV, worst case scenario, we can always stay in a Walmart parking lot, I guess, for a few days.

Phillip Waisman: So, on the other aspect, Airbnb. Sometimes they're great, I guess, if you're single, but if you got a dog or somebody else, then it can be challenging. And we've gone through nightmares with... What do you call it? With landlords and other people. I mean...

Paul Baxter: To say the least.

Phillip Waisman: Yeah.

Karen Waisman: We can write a book.