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Traveling nurses went where there was a need, but found home at St. Luke's

St. Luke's Magic Valley RN Lexie McFarland decided to become a travel nurse after working for a small hospital in Montana. After coming to Twin Falls, she decided to stay on and make it her home.
By Kelly Franson, News and Community
May 30, 2024

Registered nurses Kelly Osborne and Lexie McFarland had spent recent years going wherever help was needed. After working at St. Luke’s, they knew they had found home.

Both work on the surgical floor at St. Luke’s Magic Valley as permanent members of the care team and the community.

Osborne has worked in the Boise area, as well as hospitals in Wisconsin and Washington. After spending time on a temporary basis in many different locations, she chose to put down roots in Twin Falls.

“I love it here,” Osborne said of her decision to stay at St. Luke’s. “Just the mutual respect from the aides, the nurses, the housekeepers, the doctors, the therapists … everybody, it’s great!”

Travel nursing is a concept that has been around for many years. Assigned to hospitals on a short-term basis, they help bridge the gap between nursing supply and demand.

Kelly Osborne and Lexie McFarland have a discussion at St. Luke's Magic Valley.

“I was a traveling nurse for eight years,” Osborne said. “My first hospital was a very small town and I felt like I couldn’t learn any more there and wanted to expand my horizons.”

Traveling nurses saw a surge of popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when additional nurses were needed throughout the country. At least a dozen former travelers have found a home with St. Luke’s in Twin Falls within the past year. Five of those are on the surgical floor, where nursing manager MJ Kljucanin has made it a mission to talk traveling nurses into staying.

“When I first started as manager over surgical there were 20 travelers on just our unit,” said Kljucanin. “We’ve worked really hard recruiting new staff and also converting travelers into staff.”

While Kljucanin never worked as a traveling nurse, she knows a thing or two about traveling to Twin Falls to start a new life.

“In 1995 I moved to U.S. from Bosnia,” she said. “I was a refugee here and I really wanted to give back to the community and nursing was my way of doing that.”

She also knows the value that experienced traveling nurses can bring to a hospital.

“They bring a variety of knowledge,” said Kljucanin. “They have traveled through all these different hospitals; they have learned different ways taking care of patients and what different companies have to offer to patients.”

On travel assignments to Twin Falls, many nurses are finding they really like what St. Luke’s can offer.

Kelly Osborne was a traveling nurse for eight years before deciding on making St. Luke's Magic Valley her home.

“A lot of them really like our nurse-to-patient ratios and all the safety measures that we have implemented at St. Luke’s,” Kljucanin said.

McFarland originally decided to pursue travel nursing for a few reasons, including new experiences and financial opportunities.

“I worked at a critical access hospital in Libby, Montana,” she said. “The rates at the time for travelers were really good so I hopped on that band wagon … then I hopped off!”

St. Luke’s Magic Valley was just her second travel assignment. She first set foot in Twin Falls in September 2022, and one year later she signed on as staff. 

“I like the hospital; I feel like there is mutual respect,” said McFarland. “I feel like Twin Falls is a good central location, and there’s a lot of things to do around here.” 

It’s not just the Magic Valley — St. Luke’s is finding success converting travelers to permanent staff in locations across the health system.

From October 2022 to September 2023, 60 traveling nurses found a home as permanent staff members in the Treasure Valley.

With nine nurses currently on travel assignment in Kljucanin’s department, there may soon be more in Twin Falls.

“That is always a mission that I have,” she said. “I want to make sure all of our nurses enjoy their time here so much that they decide to stay.”

Kelly Osborne, MJ Kljucanin and Lexie McFarland.

About The Author

Kelly Franson is the public relations manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley.

Related Hospital

St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center
801 Pole Line Road W.
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 814-1000