My Travel Journey: How an IHS Assignment Changed Angela Jedlicka’s Career

Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly National Monument

For most of her 35 years in the nursing profession, Angela Jedlicka was a permanent staff nurse. She briefly tried working as a travel nurse early in her career, and although it wasn’t the right fit at the time, it eventually became clear that travel nursing was in her future.

After two-and-a-half years as a hospital-based nursing manager, Angela knew she needed a change. 

Thankfully, she had decades of experience, a passion for healthcare, and a master’s degree in nursing with an emphasis in hospital leadership on her side. She recalled thinking, “I’ve got to do something with this.”

As it would happen, her niece Kylie is a travel nursing recruiter at TRS Healthcare, and after a conversation between the two, Angela decided to return to travel nursing. 

Not long after, she found herself on her way from Nebraska to an Indian Health Service (IHS) assignment in Arizona. Angela, who loves to travel even in her spare time, was surprised by just how rural the area was. But despite this temporary culture shock, she quickly fell in love with the area.

“It’s very rocky and rustic. It’s just beautiful,” she says. “My backyard is the Canyon de Chelly [National Monument].”

Angela, who stays in a travel trailer while on assignment, was even able to tour the canyon, thanks to a connection she made with a woman who works at her facility. This coworker’s husband happened to be a tour guide for the canyon and was able to show Angela around.

Beyond the sightseeing opportunities, it was connections like these with coworkers and patients alike that reignited Angela’s love of travel nursing.

“[My IHS assignment] has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve ever had,” says Angela. “The patients are so thankful and appreciative to have any kind of care. You could give someone a warm blanket, and it’s like you just saved their life.”

Angela’s assignment was at a 60-bed critical access facility that provides care for a small, rural community on a reservation in the Four Corners region.

“People completely underestimate the value of rural hospitals,” remarked Angela. “You work just as hard in a small hospital, and you don’t have support staff like you do in a big hospital.”

As a travel nurse at facilities like this, a large part of the job is to ensure that patients are in good shape to be transferred to a larger hospital. “In a rural setting—in a critical access hospital—you have to know what patients need before they get transferred. I take pride in the fact that I know what that transport team is going to look for and what’s going to make them less anxious when they come into the room.” 

Angela spent a full year in Arizona, serving an important role in supporting local healthcare as a registered nurse (RN), often preparing patients in critical condition for transfer. And although she didn’t expect to enjoy a rural assignment as much as she did, she says she would stay even longer if she had the opportunity to do so.

“I look at these patients and think that could’ve been you or me, and I would hope to God if it was, that someone like me would say, ‘They deserve grace and they deserve good care.’ And I’m happy to do it for them.”

From learning about the local culture and enjoying the Southwestern scenery to seeing a new side to healthcare after decades in the industry, Angela’s experience with her IHS facility made a huge impact on her life and nursing career.

“When I was a staff nurse, I used to think, I have to go to work today.’ Now I think, ‘Wow, I get to go to work today.’ That difference between ‘I have to’ and ‘I get to’ is huge,” she explains.

Currently, Angela is working toward her Ph.D. in Global Health Studies. Whether it’s with this degree or her work as a nurse in general, she says her mission is to make healthcare easier, better, and more accessible.

“I’m not here to change the world,” she adds. “I’m here to take really good care of patients. As TRS nurses, we’re capable, we’re smart, and we do our job.”

Interested in a travel nursing opportunity at an Indian Health Service facility? TRS Healthcare can help you find the right IHS or rural travel nursing assignment. Search our current jobs or apply with us now!