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Monongahela nurse commutes 2,600 miles to work in Oakland — California

| Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 5:36 p.m.
Tom Fowkes, a pediatric nurse from Monongahela, commutes 2,600 miles to work at a hospital in California.
Tom Fowkes, a pediatric nurse from Monongahela, commutes 2,600 miles to work at a hospital in California.

How far would you go for higher pay and a better schedule?

For Tom Fowkes, a pediatric nurse from Monongahela, the answer is about 2,600 miles.

Fowkes works at a hospital in Oakland — not the Oakland that is home to the Pitt Panthers and UPMC hospital system, but the one in California.

According to SFGATE , Fowkes has been working in California and living south of Pittsburgh for nine years. Before that, he told SFGATE he worked three jobs, barely made ends meet and didn't have time to spend with his son.

Now he flies to Oakland every other week, where he told SFGATE he is making a California paycheck with Pittsburgh housing costs. The difference in pay is so stark that even the cost of flying across the country four times a month doesn't deter Fowkes.

"These are the highest paid nursing jobs on the planet," he told SFGATE. "I make more than some doctors do back home."

Fowkes told SFGATE he now has plenty of time to spend with his son.

"I can't believe I've been doing it for 9 years. It seems like 4 or 5. It's changed my life. I spend more time with my son. And when I'm home and I don't work, we can do things because I have money now," he told SFGATE.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675,, or on Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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