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    How one healthcare traveler booked a Florida assignment and strengthened the family bond

     

    travel nurses FloridaPhoto courtesy of the Pensacola Bay Area CVB

    After nearly 10 years away, Eric Cameron, PT, DPT, and his family—wife, Susan, 4-year-old son, and 2-year-old daughter—found themselves back in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. “I started traveling right after graduating from physical therapy school,” Cameron explains. “My first contract was in Phoenix—it was December and we wanted to get out of the cold. About a year later, we went to Montrose, Colo., and it was by far the best assignment up to that point. I actually accepted two contracts in the city, and when they offered me a permanent position, my wife and I decided to stay. We lived in Montrose for six years during which time we had our two kids. But after a while, we wanted to move back east and be closer to our families.”

    Because the couple had landed in one city they loved via a short-term contract, they decided to resume the mobile lifestyle to find a new place to call home. Between assignments, they claimed Buffalo as their base. While it was familiar territory, Cameron didn’t enjoy reliving the extreme winter weather. “It got cold in Colorado, but not as much snow as Buffalo gets. I’m just not a fan,” he admits.

    So last winter, he requested his recruiter at CompHealth, a staffing company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, find him an opportunity in a warmer climate. More specifically, the family had their hearts set on the Sunshine State.

    “My wife’s friend lives in Orlando, Fla., and she was about to have a baby. We wanted an assignment that would get us as close to her as possible” says Cameron. “Pensacola was the closest we could find.”

    Cameron went to work at an outpatient clinic in Sacred Heart Health System’s Rehabilitation Services. “This turned out to be the best assignment to do as a family because there was so much we could experience together,” he says.

    Focused on family

    Thanks to a Monday–Friday workweek, Cameron was free to dedicate his weekends to family activities. One of their favorites was spending the day at a local beach. “You cannot beat the beaches in Pensacola. The sand is like fine sugar,” he notes.

    They also toured the National Naval Aviation Museum, housed at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, several times because it offers several child-friendly exhibits.

    While Cameron was at work, Susan and the kids regularly joined other families at the neighborhood parks throughout town. “Pensacola parks have phenomenal play structures, like castles, that the kids enjoyed playing on. They would spend hours at a time there,” he says.

    “When traveling with young children, you have to figure out things to do in your new community and not just stay in the house all the time, which can be isolating,” Cameron continues. “Starting with that assignment, my wife began looking at websites like MeetUp to find local family groups. That’s how she learned about the parks.”

    Of course, the family couldn’t travel all the way to Florida without making a special trip (or two) to Walt Disney World. “We went to both the Magic Kingdom Park and Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Even though my kids are very young and it’s been more than a year since we were there, they still talk about the experience and ask to go back. We told them that when they are both tall enough to ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster, which has a minimum 44-inch height requirement, we will go again,” says Cameron.

     

     

    Anne Baye Ericksen
    Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer based in Simi Valley, California.

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