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Life as a traveling nurse: Courtni Habel Sladek’s passion for healthcare and love for adventure collided, sending her from the east coast to the west

Courtni Habel Sladek ’10 and her husband, Ryan, pulled out from their apartment in an SUV packed with clothes, a couple of pillows, and a few small kitchen appliances. The couple was prepared for a 26-hour journey to New York City, where they would stay for three months. Although they had plans to go to Central Park, see a Broadway production, and eat at the Dominique Ansel Bakery, they were by no means on an extended vacation. This was part of Sladek’s life as a traveling nurse.

Sladek graduated with a nursing degree from UMHB in 2010 and began work at Scott & White’s pediatric intensive care unit to gain experience. It did not take her long to realize that wasn’t her long-term aspiration.

“I was born and raised in Temple and I was ready to get out and explore the world,” Sladek said as she began looking into different career options. “I love traveling and new experiences, so I decided to contact a recruiter from a staffing company.”

Sladek eventually began working for American Mobile, one of the largest staffing companies in the nation. She has since completed nine assignments in cities such as San Francisco, California; Baltimore, Maryland; and Houston, Texas.

“I’ve gone so many places since becoming a traveling nurse,” Sladek said. “This job has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have learned so much about different people, cultures, and religions, which has helped me better care for my patients and their families.”

Among her favorite places has been New York City.

“Before I left I would tell people I was moving into a 300-square-foot apartment downtown just to get a good reaction from them,” she said. “I had no idea how small that truly was until we got there and it was literally only 200 square feet.” She laughed. “We felt so crammed in that apartment that we never wanted to be there, which forced my husband and I to go out and explore the city a lot more.”

Another of Sladek’s favorite memories was a gift she and Ryan received from a friend they had met while working in Los Angeles, California.

“One of our fellow church members worked for Disney, and he gave us tickets to Disneyland Resort,” Sladek said. “It was a lifelong dream come true. The moment I saw Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, I started sobbing because I was so happy. It was truly one of the best days of my life.”

Sladek believes her traveling experiences have shaped her into who she is today. “I have become a lot more open-minded, adventerous, and outgoing,” she said.

Sladek credits her success as a traveling nurse to her time at UMHB.
“I switch hospitals every few months, and I have never felt unprepared or intimidated—and I’ve worked at very notable hospitals, like Johns Hopkins and New York Presbyterian,” she said. “I feel like my skill level is up to par with every hospital I’ve gone to, and UMHB is the reason I have that solid foundation.”