The Home Base

The number one question that I get as a locum tenens traveling pediatrician is, “Where is your home base?” Or, “Where are you coming from?” For the longest time, it was hard for me to answer that question, but over time instead of explaining everything, I tend to just default to the simple, “Everywhere.” There are many people that work as travelers or locum tenens providers, but I’ve pushed myself to an extreme over the last 3 years in my amount of travel. Still, I always wonder about the idea of a “Home Base.”

For most travel workers “the road” is only a short sabbatical away from home. Whether this means going back to a particular living arrangement as a house or apartment between jobs, or going back to a central job that is the “primary” spot, most people boomerang back to something. I have met many providers that will have a full-time job working at one location, where all of their things or family are, then taking on extra time to moonlight on the weekend and cover at a different facility somewhere else. However, while I have come across multiple opportunities to plant some roots and establish a brick and mortar home base in a similar fashion, I instead decided to commit fully to the Nomadic lifestyle, and did something different. I changed the concept for myself on what “home” really means.

In February 2021, I ended the lease for my apartment in Texas. I had saved up for 8 months prior, after finishing Residency, to have an emergency fund as I jumped into the unknown with unstable work. For the remainder of my time in 2021, I spent 317 nights on the road. In 2022, that number jumped to 359. That’s right, in 2022 there were only 6 night that I was at a place that some might define as a ‘Home,’ and really that was just visiting my mom’s house in Northern California. I have jumped job to job with my longest stint on the road being just shy of 180 consecutive days before touching base back at ‘home’; and, in reality, over time, I realized that my definition of a ‘home base’ has changed significantly. Between the beginning of truly becoming a Nomad and starting my fellowship training, over 50 months will have passed with my entire life traveling with me in 1.5 suitcases and a backpack. Over 800 nights, “on the road again.

The old adage of “Home is Where the Heart Is” has really become the central theme for my life – I am not hanging any shingles for now. Hotel rooms become commonplace, and it has actually become more foreign to me to be away from them. As far as location goes, I have wandered through so many parts of the country and fallen in love with each one in a different way, that I feel myself ripped apart a horcrux dispersed throughout the country. With time, I have established floating roots to multiple hospitals and groups of people and connections that are forged in late nights and learning experiences. I need very little, except the people that I work with…. And a way to cook, of course.

As time has passed on, and i have been given opportunities to return to the same grounds over and over. I have grown close to the people I work with and learned that really, THEY define for me what ‘Home’ is. Moving from job to job is difficult as a professional locum tenens and I have written ad nauseam on the pros and cons of doing such. It becomes difficult to assimilate into new environments unless you are open to adaptation and flexibility. I mold myself into the new places I come across. Yet, I am forever seeking a question of a ‘forever’ home or whether or not the traditional meaning fits me. When you have lived everywhere, you miss everything.

And, after months and months of being in Maine, I will never forget when I questioned my place among some away rotations in other states and walked back into the unit to hear my charge nurse exclaim, “Trevor! Welcome Home.”

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