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While you may have heard about what it’s like to work as a travel nurse, have you ever thought about travel nurses who work in the ICU?

Daisy Award-winner Deji “DJ” Folami, RN is an ICU registered nurse from Oklahoma with Cross Country Healthcare, who specializes in critical care nursing and travel nursing. He told us what it’s like to work as a travel ICU nurse—and why he loves doing it. What follows is our interview, edited for length and clarity.

“I was just simply blown away by their [ICU travel nurses] level of confidence, their can-do and go-getter attitude, and their all-around knowledge, that the motivation to explore travel nursing came easily.”


DailyNurse: How did you get interested in being a travel nurse—especially one working in ICU?

DJ Folani: I joined ICU nursing after one year of being a Med-Surg nurse because I was fascinated by the skills and organization of the code team.  Same degree, just higher levels of training and knowledge. After one year in ICU, I met a few travel nurses. I was just simply blown away by their level of confidence, their can-do and go-getter attitude, and their all-around knowledge, that the motivation to explore travel nursing came easily. In 2016, I started my journey as a travel or contract nurse, and I have never looked back since.

Explain to me briefly what a travel nurse specializing in ICU does? How long do you tend to work in any one facility?

A travel nurse must be an experienced and adaptable person. However, a travel nurse who specializes in ICU is expected to be dynamic and ready to meet challenges when circumstances change.

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For example, most ICU travel nurses specialize in medical-surgical ICU but may be asked to float to a cardiovascular or neuro ICU to take care of patients within their scope. Simply put—same skill set, different unit or different protocols.

Typically, a travel nurse works as a contract employee at a facility. Each contract can be a period of 8 to 26 weeks, renewable up to one year. After that one year is up, a break is required up to 30 days, depending on state laws. If the facility wants to continue with the nurse, they will offer to renew the contract.

 How and why did you get into becoming a travel nurse? Did you have to sign up with one specific business that places travel nurses? Are ICU travel nurses in high demand?

ICU travel nurse Deji Falani, RN I was satisfied being an ICU nurse, but I was not content with the knowledge I had acquired. I wanted to impact the world beyond my residential city. I love meeting people. Therefore, I pushed myself to follow up on a referral made by another experienced travel nurse I had spoken with. The recruiter asked questions about my interests, specialty, etc. While awaiting offers, I called and spoke with other travel agencies to compare my preferred assignment, convenience, and of course salary rates.

Yes! Travel nurses are in high demand. An ICU travel nurse with experience in complex critical interventions such as continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT), hypothermia protocol (Arctic Sun), and certifications such as critical care registered nurse (CCRN), etc., are in high demand.

What do you like most about working as a travel nurse?

Every facility has its own unique way of carrying out nursing processes. I love learning new ways of doing the same thing. These new experiences add to my wealth of knowledge.

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What are the biggest challenges you face in travel nursing?

Finding a suitable accommodation. A comfortable and affordable place to live while on a travel assignment is vital to my overall well-being. I love to find a place that is close to a gym, a grocery store, and at closest proximity to the hospital.

What are your greatest rewards as one?

New friendships and networking.

Is there anything else that is important for our readers to know?

The key here is to add value to their team and strive to make an impact such that you become an asset and not a liability. I always ask the nurse manager or leaders what ways I could be more useful to their team. Have a positive attitude, rid yourself of trivial complaints. Be a part of the solution you are there to be and have fun while doing it. Blend in quickly and be an important team player. Do this, and you’ll be surprised at how fast the facility will ask you to stay longer with them.

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