Michela Williams '14

What's your ideal job? A seemingly simple question one hears growing up, often followed by the cliche response, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” But how often does one find a job that does not feel like work to him or her? 
Ever since elementary school, I've been academically driven, and this was only heightened by the IB program at Trinity High School. I would strive for success, and would work into the late hours of the night, never okay with the A- when it could have been an A.  When I dreamt about my career path growing up, it was always to achieve the highest degree possible in my field.  A doctorate over a master’s over a bachelor’s was my approach for measuring success.  It was not even so much that I valued the notoriety of a higher degree, but the challenge and feeling of accomplishment I sought.  
So when I was choosing colleges and undergraduate degrees, because of my affinity for science and medicine I decided I wanted to obtain my doctorate in Physical Therapy in a 7 year program at Saint Louis University.  However, the more I looked into what a physical therapist did, I realized I wanted to be involved more in the acute care of patients rather than the rehabilitation, so a nurse practitioner with a doctorate of nursing practice seemed like the logical next step. I would be a bedside nurse for as short a time as I needed to get into a nurse practitioner program.

However, I discovered there is more to the meaning of that initial question.  
At SLU’s nursing program, I was able to study abroad in Madrid, Spain and experience the world of international travel and how much I loved it.  Later, I took up hiking and backpacking in the mountains, skiing, as well as simply running and exploring the urban life around me every day.  I went on a personal quest to ask as many people I could in my life, “When do you think you’re happiest?” The responses I received often involved time spent outdoors with family and friends, which correlated with my own.  
After I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Nursing Science, I worked in a cardiac surgical ICU in St. Louis for 3 years, the last year of which was spent caring for COVID patients at their sickest.  This appealed to the academic part of me that loved the challenge of critical thinking, but to find my ideal job, I also had to engage the part of me that values new experiences outside of the world of academia.  That is when I knew it was time to start travel nursing.  
I now work as a travel nurse, taking 3+ month assignments at hospitals across the U.S. with immediate nursing needs within my specialty.  I am currently on assignment at Stanford hospital in Northern California, where I am a quick drive away from beautiful hikes, ski resorts, as well as beaches.  My next location might be Arizona, Colorado, or even Hawaii.  The best part about my current job is that it allows me to live the kind of life I have always wanted. I am constantly expanding my knowledge, learning from other medical professionals at different hospitals. In addition, I get to experience what it’s like to live anywhere in the country and fully embrace all that an area has to offer, while feeling passionate about the work that I do. 
Did I find my ideal job? I’d say I found about as close as I could possibly get (at least for now.)