Ali Hebert on Travel Nursing


If you ask most nurses when they knew they wanted to be a nurse, they’d most likely say the passion developed at a very young age. Ali Hebert is no exception. She grew up visiting Children’s Health in Dallas, where one of her friends was undergoing treatment, and her desire to make nursing her career began within those hospital walls. The fire in her heart grew even further in high school when she took biology and anatomy, so when she started her undergraduate career at Texas Tech University, she knew, without a doubt, that she would declare pre-nursing as her major.

Ali’s dream job was working in labor and delivery at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. When the time came to apply to nursing school, she knew that in order to maximize her chances of getting an offer from Baylor when she graduated, she would need to attend nursing school at Baylor. She said it pained her to leave Lubbock and all of the friends she had made through her classes and Kappa Delta, but she said she knew she had to do it for the betterment of her nursing career. So, off to Dallas she went after getting accepted to Baylor’s nursing school.

Ali says her life was pretty “plain Jane” until her first year of nursing school. She grew up in a suburb of Dallas, attended private school, attended a large university, and then got accepted into nursing school. Nothing out of the ordinary happened in her life until her first semester of nursing school. Within two weeks of her first semester, a family friend, who was like a second dad to Ali, fell ill, and sadly, he passed away later in the semester. Then, a relationship Ali felt was forever instead fell apart. These circumstances combined with the rigor and stressors of nursing school almost made Ali want to throw in the towel. But when she reflected on her life and on the passions that drive her, she knew there were no other options; she was going to stick it out and not only finish nursing school, but thrive in her career. And let me tell you; she is thriving.

Upon graduation, Ali got a job in labor and delivery at Baylor Medical Center. Baylor hadn’t hired a new grad in quite a few years, so this was a significant milestone for Ali. She loved her job, she loved being close to friends and family, and she loved being in Dallas. However, when she looked around and noticed her friends were all settling down, getting married and buying houses, she said she felt a bit stationary. As she put it, so perfectly: “I was just tired of waiting for life to happen to me. I was ready to make some moves.” This, my friends, is how Ali became a travel nurse.

Banff National Park in Canada (credit: Ali Hebert)

If you’re unfamiliar with travel nursing, basically, you work with a recruiter, tell them where you want to go, and they work on finding jobs for you that match location and salary. It’s that easy. Ali said she has never had a hard time finding a job. A typical contract is about 13 weeks, but it can be shorter, or you can extend your stay or even decide to make it a permanent gig if things go well at the hospital and they have the need for you at that particular time. So, Ali packed up her stuff into a couple of suitcases and headed to her first job in Seattle.

Ali's pup, Georgia, approves of travel nursing. Squirrels? Not so much. (credit: Ali Hebert)

When Ali and I were speaking for this piece, I joked with her that I can’t tell what’s work and what’s play by her photos I see on Facebook and Instagram. Her life is one big adventure. At this point, she’s worked in Seattle, New York City and now she is in Charleston, S.C., but she’s traveled to Alaska and all over Europe. Ali has a list of places she wants to visit, and she has the opportunity to work in those cities with no baggage (figuratively speaking), no worries and no fear. And she said it has 100 percent been the best decision of her life.

Orcas Island in Washington (credit: Ali Hebert)

Deception Pass in Washington (credit: Ali Hebert)

Auschwitz Memorial and Museum (credit: Ali Hebert)

A city street in Poland (credit: Ali Hebert)

One of the craziest things about her entire journey since she became a travel nurse has absolutely nothing to do with nursing. This time last year, Ali was at a bachelorette party for one of her friends from high school, and she and another friend, Sarah, were the only single ladies in the group. Sarah asked Ali if she wanted to go on a trip, and Ali said absolutely. Sarah had a friend, Aaron, who was stationed in Germany, and they decided to go visit and stay with him during Oktoberfest. Ali and Aaron hit it off, and they have been dating ever since. The crazy doesn’t stop there, though. Aaron is from the same suburb as Ali. They grew up streets away from one another. Ali’s brother went to school with Aaron, and Ali’s youngest brother went to school with Aaron’s younger brother. They could have met hundreds of times growing up, but it took the military, travel nursing and a spontaneous trip to Europe to bring them together. That is what I like to call fate. (By the way, you can follow their travels via the hashtag #twotravelingtxns. It’s pretty cute.)

#TwoTravelingTxns (and a traveling pup) in Switzerland (credit: Ali Hebert)

Ali said travel nursing isn’t for everyone. You have to be okay with being alone. You have to be okay with going to restaurants alone and exploring by yourself. You have to be okay with moving from city to city after getting attached to people and places over the course of three months or so. But that’s what Ali loves about travel nursing: she gets to start over everywhere she goes. She gets to meet new people, experience new things, and embark on new adventures every step of the way. And she keeps in touch with her friends she meets along the way. She is going on a camping trip in the Grand Canyon with a group of nurses she met in Seattle. And travel nursing has provided her with opportunities she may not have experienced otherwise. One of her favorite memories from being a travel nurse comes from her time in New York City when she worked at Cornell. Ali said she and her sisters grew up watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. They watched it every single year. In 2015, however, she got to witness it live and in person with one of her sisters, thanks to her stint in NYC over the holidays. Travel nursing provided that opportunity for Ali and her sister.

Ali and her sister, Olivia, at Rockefeller Center in New York City (credit: Ali Hebert)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (credit: Ali Hebert)

If there was ever a time Ali doubted her decision to be a travel nurse, it was when she signed her first contract with the hospital in Seattle. She struggled through her shifts at Baylor because she questioned whether or not she was making the right decision. That doubt stemmed from the unknown; it stemmed from wondering, not from experiencing. And now that she has experienced travel nursing, she does not regret it for a second. She still gets to do what she loves. She still works in labor and delivery everywhere she goes; she just gets to do it in different cities, in different hospitals and for women in various regions of the country. Travel nursing hasn’t stunted her career; it’s enhanced it.

We oftentimes associate travel with money. Yes, it can be expensive to travel, but Ali stressed that you don’t have to be rich to travel around the world. You can travel on a budget, like she does. Ali said she thinks some of the biggest reasons people don’t travel include money, work commitments and the fear of traveling alone, but she reiterated that you can have amazing experiences on a budget and by yourself. Ask anyone who has traveled alone; they will probably tell you it was one of the most eye-opening experiences because they were forced to make the most of a situation in which they didn’t have the crux of a companion to complete the experience; that responsibility fell on them, and it ends up being totally worth it.

Ali in Berlin (credit: Ali Hebert)

If you’re considering travel nursing, or if you’ve been inspired to do something you’ve been thinking about doing for the longest time, Ali’s advice is to just do it. (Really, she said that multiple times. It’s the simplest affirmation ever). She is so thankful she’ll never have to look back and wonder, “what if?” And instead, she has all of these incredible memories, experiences and friends to be grateful for.

“I love that I get to be a part of one of the most monumental day of women’s lives. But then I get to put that together with my love of travel. It’s my two biggest passions and I get to do them together.”

If you want to know more about travel nursing, Ali would be more than happy to speak with you. Just drop me a comment below or email me at becca@herstoryblog.com and I’ll connect you.

As Ali says, “Worst case is if you don’t like it, you can always go back to where you came from, and that’s okay, too. But you’re never going to know until you try.”