Here they say, ‘Hey, can I help you out? You’re behind, I’m behind, let’s get caught up together.’

Ashley Cullison is a Michigan girl. Or she thought she was.

Ashley graduated from nursing school there and got her first job as an R.N. at a hospital in Grand Rapids. Ashley loves her family and her part of the country, but something was pulling at her. A yearning to see more.

“There’s so much more to this country that I had never seen,” she says, leaning in with enthusiasm. “For some reason I felt like the PNW was calling my name. So I looked into travel nursing. I liked the opportunities it presented so I talked to Travel Nurse Across America. I interviewed them: How are you going to help me? I mean, I was going to completely uproot my life.

“I decided to give it a shot.”

Her first call? Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital in fall 2016. Then it was Modesto, Calif., for three months. In April 2017 Ashley was back here. By this time “here” was really starting to feel like home. “I had really good connections at work and from church here,” Ashley says. Her contract was extended three times, but she finally had to leave or risk losing her traveler status. “I then went to Sacramento, but while I was there I decided I wanted to give Yakima more than chunks of my time.

On May 7, 2018, Ashley Cullison joined the team at Virginia Mason Memorial full time. Until she moves into her townhome, Ashley is staying with nurse Tiffini Gunkel, her husband Brad (a VMM network analyst) and their family. The Gunkels provided a home for Ashley last year, too.

“I feel very blessed,” she says. “While I was in Sacramento my grandfather passed away in Michigan. When that happened I had more co-workers from Memorial text or call me to see if I was OK then from anyplace else I worked.

“Coming back it’s been fun to explore the full spectrum of Memorial’s float pool. I think being a traveler made me well-suited for this.

“The day that I got here my relationship with management in the float pool has been great. I felt very welcomed. For Kim (Krapf) to extend the job offer to me, it means a lot that they thought of me what I thought of them.

“I worked both day and night shifts here as a traveler, and in so many departments. But no matter where I get sent here I feel like I have friends. I understand that nursing has stressful days anywhere. But the nursing culture here is so different than what I experience at the other places. Here they say, ‘Hey, can I help you out? You’re behind, I’m behind, let’s get caught up together.’

“I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was 3 years old. Yakima sucked me in.”

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