Every nurse has their own unique and fascinating story to tell. GIFTED wants the world to hear every one of them!
This GIFTED Spotlight features travel nurse Charlotte Swopes, a veteran GIFTED RN and Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Charlotte spoke to us about her love of caregiving, her recent experiences on the front lines of COVID-19, her relationship with GIFTED Healthcare, and the childhood experiences that inspired her to become a nurse.
Read on to learn about GIFTED RN Charlotte Swopes!
Charlotte grew up in Moss Point, Mississippi. She says her father placed a strong emphasis on education and planning for the future, which caused her to consider her career path at an early age. Her initial interest in caregiving began when she was 12 years old.
“At the age of 12 I decided I wanted to help people,” Charlotte said. “I read often about nursing, and I was interested in all the different aspects of it.”
When Charlotte’s older brother went to college to study medicine, her resolve to enter the healthcare field strengthened even more.
“When it was my time to go to college, I wanted to leave Mississippi,” said Charlotte. “I followed my brother to Florida A&M University and entered the nursing program.”
However, Charlotte’s plans changed over the course of her college career. By her senior year, she was married and had a child.
Now that she had a family to care for, Charlotte was unsure if she could take on the heavy burden of nursing school coursework. She decided to earn a degree in social work instead, which gave her more time to spend with her family.
It wasn’t until 10 years later, when Charlotte had 3 children and a fully-formed adult life, that she decided to go back and finish nursing school. Because she had finished many of the prerequisite classes required for a degree in nursing, Charlotte was able to earn her nursing degree in 18 months, finally becoming a nurse in 2008.
The path toward her life’s calling had been long and winding, but once Charlotte arrived, it was immediately clear that she had made the right choice.
Charlotte Returns to Her Calling
Charlotte said that her transition into nursing felt completely natural.
“I remember my first nurse manager telling me that some people have careers, and others have a calling,” Charlotte recalled. “And that she could tell that nursing was my calling.”
Charlotte dove into nursing head-first. She worked tirelessly to expand her clinical expertise, taking every chance she got to learn a variety of different nurse specialties.
“I love finding out how things work,” she said. “I call it a two-and-a-half year itch: every two or three years, I switched to a different part of nursing so I could learn more.”
She began in orthopedics and neurology, moved to MedSurg, became certified in chemotherapy, worked in a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and in peritoneal dialysis (PD), gained experience in psychiatric nursing, and eventually became an operating room (OR) nurse.
It’s clear that Charlotte was meant to be a nurse.
Travel Nursing with GIFTED: Exciting Challenges & New Experiences
Charlotte has been a GIFTED RN since 2017, and has used travel nursing to satisfy her hunger for clinical knowledge and variety.
When we asked her about her life as a travel nurse, Charlotte excitedly told us about her relationship with GIFTED Healthcare.
“GIFTED was the first travel nursing company I spoke to, and I fell in love,” said Charlotte. “My recruiter is like my wingman. I knew I could trust her instantly. She makes me so comfortable, and she’s always looking out for me.”
“When you are a travel nurse, every assignment is something new,” she said. “You have to learn each hospital’s systems and record-keeping procedures, meet a new staff, and learn the culture of the place you’re assigned.”
Charlotte believes these kinds of challenges are a good thing, helping her to “scratch the itch” that she has for new experiences and clinical education.
“Everyone is different and some people don’t like change, but for me, change is a good thing,” she said. “It helps you grow, experience new things, and keeps you from becoming stagnant and falling into the same routine.”
On the Front Lines of COVID-19
In addition to her exceptional work as a nurse, Charlotte also heroically serves and protects our nation. In 2012, Charlotte joined the U.S. Navy Reserve, and after 8 years of service, she was recently promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
When coronavirus spread across the United States in early March, Charlotte was on a travel nurse assignment with GIFTED. But in the middle of her trip, our nation called her to the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, deploying her to a facility in Brooklyn, New York.
Charlotte only had 24 hours to prepare for the trip, but she bravely accepted her duty, becoming part of the first team of healthcare workers in our nation’s history to be deployed by the U.S. military.
She worked on the frontlines of COVID-19 from April 6 to May 29. We asked her to tell us her about experience there:
“At the beginning, it was like something from a movie. One day, we were all going about our business, and within the blink of an eye everything changed.
There was a lot of uncertainty – the needs were urgent and there were new policies about proper PPE and safety, and at that time we weren’t sure what the virus was capable of. We were at war, on our own territory, with an opponent we couldn’t see.”
Fear and tension ran high, but Charlotte observed something remarkable:
“The great thing about it is – EVERYBODY was willing to step up. I feel that no matter what you were doing in March, you were a frontliner; grocery store clerks, restaurant owners, it didn’t matter – we needed everybody.
The people in New York were so appreciative. They celebrated the frontline workers every day at 7 o’clock. They clapped, banged on pots and pans, blew their car horns – you could hear them no matter where you were in the city. We were immediately accepted as part of the community.
It goes to show that, as a country, any time we experience a crisis, we always come together as one and take care of the common goal.”
The Ideal Nurse
Any time we spotlight a GIFTED RN, we always ask them to describe the qualities of the ideal nurse. Each nurse must draw from an intensely personal and unique set of experiences to create their own philosophy of care.
The nurses we’ve spoken to always answer this question with great confidence and clarity, and always without pause. It’s clear that their principles are authentic and fully developed.
We conclude our spotlight with Charlotte’s description of the “ideal nurse,” an inspiring philosophy of care that holds equality, integrity and compassion in the highest regard:
“First and foremost, you have to care about people. You’ve got to have integrity; people aren’t going to be watching you, so you’ll be expected to be diligent.
You have to have a sense of ethics. You have to see all your patients as one: you can’t look at color, you can’t look at nationality, you can’t look at economic background. You have to care about your patients regardless of the situation.
You have to have a heart of compassion.”
GIFTED Healthcare Is Proud to Support Nurses like Charlotte Swopes
We are honored that Charlotte is a part of our team. She is a shining example of the amazing things an individual can accomplish when they discover their true calling.
As one would expect after learning about her, Charlotte isn’t planning to slow down any time soon. She is currently in the process of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.
But before she does, she plans on taking one last travel nursing assignment with GIFTED Healthcare!
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Begin your adventure today with GIFTED Healthcare!