I grew up in a very small town in rural Massachusetts, and by very small, I mean an absence of traffic lights and real traffic for that matter. A place most might refer to as a ‘one-horse town’, which was fine when I was young. It meant I basically had free rein to run around all over the neighboring woods and enjoy the comforts of knowing everyone in my town on a first name basis.
Fast forward twenty-something years, where I found myself graduating from the University of Boston with a B.S. in nursing and starting off my new and exciting life in nursing. And of course, where was my first assignment? Right back home! Who would’ve thought that after living in the big city of Boston I’d end up right back to my roots, but there I was, tending to my neighbor’s great grandmother who was in the final stages of dementia and needed round the clock care. The way I looked at it was that I should relish this time at home, after all, who knows when I might be able to spend this amount of time with my family. I got to cheer on my teenage brother as he made the winning layup to claim our local High School’s State Title that year and also photograph my younger sister with her boyfriend as they headed to prom together.
Soon after, I received my new assignment taking me all the way across the country to Butte, Montana working at a substance abuse clinic. Talk about being worlds away, or was it? When I got settled in my new home, I began to get my bearings, researching the local mining culture and joining in the same type of activities that I had back in Massachusetts. I immediately found a Dojo so I could continue with my Kendo practice and haunted all the numerous historical and mineral museums. I even made the pilgrimage to visit the Lady of the Rockies. Butte was great, cold in the winter, but don’t forget I grew up with bitter nor’easters so unlike some of my nursing brethren from fairer states. The weather didn’t bother me… or so I thought.
Yes, my next assignment took me out of the mountains and into the high desert heat of Scottsdale, Arizona where I continued on with geriatrics, withering under the suffocating infernos of the southwest. I know, they call it a dry heat, or so I’ve been told a million times, but after the 14th day of temperatures over the 110° mark, I begged my agency to place me anywhere that’s at least fifty degrees cooler. So you can imagine my relief when I applied for the Barrows, Alaska assignment and soon left behind the heavy traffic and heavier heat for a blissful eight months in one of the most remote corners of the United States.
Of course, there were much different issues to contend with (having to leave my car running 24/7 and dodging moose on my way to work), but I learned to be content with much less, to adapt to the local lifestyle, bear stew and stink heads (yes, people there really do eat fermented fish heads), but the experience I gained was invaluable and no matter where I hung my nursing cap at the end of the day, life was never dull, it was filled with new and exciting challenges.
Though I’ve returned to my New England roots to raise my own family, I hope that someday my own children will find the courage to venture out into this great world, knowing they always have a home with me, too.
About the Author
Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in traveling nursing jobs.