For traveling therapists, there are three main considerations when choosing a contract: Pay, Location, and Setting. The first two considerations are going to depend more on your personal preference, but for Setting, there are several factors to consider.
First, which settings can you work as a traveling therapist? Here is a list of the main ones for OT’s, PT’s, and SLP’s:
(Note: In some cases, you may be asked to work in a combination of settings: OP/IP, Acute/OP, SNF/OP, IP/SNF, etc., and this will be listed in the job posting)
Second, does the facility require prior experience? As mentioned in a previous blog post, traveling therapists are able to start working right out of school as a new grad. However, where you start out is going to depend on whether or not the facility accepts new grads, or if they expect a certain amount of experience as part of their requirements. Sometimes fieldwork experience is acceptable, but a lot of times settings like acute care or home health want you to have at least a year or two of experience under your belt. This also goes for a seasoned therapist who has been working in certain settings and is hoping to switch to something different (For example, an occupational therapist who has experience in SNF’s and home health but is hoping to land a contract in an acute care hospital).
Advice: Even if the job posting lists prior experience in the requirements, you can still tell your recruiter you’re interested and have them submit your resume. The worst they can do is say no. But there’s always a chance they might be willing to train you.
Third, how much onboarding/training is provided? In general, skilled nursing facilities are on the lower end and expect you to jump right in early on. In hospital settings, there tends to be more onboarding due to the higher level of acuity, around 1-2 weeks. As a rule of thumb, this question should always be brought up during your interview with a facility so you know going into it what to expect. If you are someone who can roll with the punches and hit the ground running, this may not be a concern, but for someone who prefers an orientation and some training, this should definitely be taken into consideration when choosing a setting/particular facility.
Fourth, does my state have jobs in the setting I want? This can be a limiting factor in some cases, depending on which state(s) you’re licensed in, or planning to get a license. Depending on the job market and what’s available, there may not be many, if any, jobs in that particular setting in your locations of interest, so that is always important to look into.
Advice: If you are more open to and/or have experience in more than one setting, this
can expand your options for what’s available to you.
One of the benefits of being a traveling therapist is having the ability to try out a variety of settings, depending on what areas interest you. Even if you do not have prior experience, traveling can be a way to get your foot in the door. It can help to avoid burnout, it allows you to gain experience in a multitude of patient populations, and expands your training and skill sets to make you a well-rounded therapist. It’s one of the many reasons to take the leap if you’re thinking of becoming a traveler!
Written by: Morgan (and Mo) Travel OT and MedVenturist
Travel is often glamorized on social media, especially in the last couple of years after COVID began. Pay packages began to skyrocket (finally getting the pay we deserve!) and it started seeming like it was the mass Exodus of any nurse with over two years of experience in every unit across the country. I personally have been a travel nurse for the past 4 years, and I can vouch that it’s one of the best jobs out there. What other industry can you be so in control of your own schedule, make great money, and still have fulfilling work caring for others? Sometimes, I come across nurses who would love to become a travel nurse, but they could “never” do it. A lot of the fears I hear about have to do with the fear of being away from family and friends, and the fear of being alone. I think putting yourself out there in a new state, new hospital, new unit filled with all new coworkers can be a really scary thing for some people. I also think it has changed me as a person, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!
Traveling forces you out of your comfort zone and into new situations almost daily. You have to be OK with always being the new person on the unit, asking questions, and even finding your new grocery store and gym, and finding your way around a new city. These can be some of the most challenging parts about being a traveler, but also some of the most exciting. It’s all about your perspective, and what you make of it. Now in 2022, it’s never been easier to be a traveler. There are so many resources, apps, and different ways of connecting with other people- the MedVenture app being one of them! I would even argue that it’s easier making friends as a travel nurse than as a staff nurse. When you meet another travel nurse on the unit, or out and about exploring, you have an instant connection. You already have so many things in common–you both left your hometown and you’re both new to the unit and to the area. Once you become a seasoned traveler, you find how small the world really is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone who has worked with a friend I knew on a previous assignment.
I met my friend Emilie on an assignment in Denver, CO on the night shift. With her, it was an instant connection and friendship. Our banter at 3:00 in the morning was seamless and working with her always made the night shift FUN. She is from the west coast and traveled to the east coast where she met her boyfriend (now fiance). I am from the east coast and traveled to the west coast where I met my boyfriend. We were all now living in Denver and the four of us started doing everything together. COVID put a bit of a wrench in our plans and my boyfriend and I ended up moving to Santa Barbara, but our friendship stayed strong. We began taking trips together from ski trips in Utah and Colorado, to the beaches of Cabo. In January this year, Emilie and I started our own podcast called “Drunk or Delirious? A Nightshift Podcast.” We talk about all things nursing, NICU nursing, nightshift, and interview special guests- including Em and Ryan, the creators of MedVenture! It has been so much fun to think that travel nursing has brought us here, and continues to connect us to so many different people.
If you are the kind of person that is interested in travel nursing but is hesitant because of the fear of being lonely- don’t let it hold you back. It’s hard to imagine where my life would be now if I didn’t take the plunge into travel nursing. I think I would have always wondered “what if”. I personally don’t want to live my life with “what ifs” and regrets! I always tell people you should try it, and if you hate it after 3 months you never have to take another assignment again. Chances are- you’re going to love it. I met my boyfriend and my best friend while travel nursing and I’m not sure where I would be without them!
My tips for making friendships while on your assignment are:
Hopefully this inspires a few people to take the leap into traveling. Although it isn’t always as glamorous as social media can make it seem, it’s still a life changing adventure and it’s 100% worth it. Feel free to check out Emilie and I’s podcast “Drunk or Delirious?” on Spotify or Apple Podcasts!
Written by Emilie and Hannah, Travel Nurses and hosts of the Drunk or Delirious Podcast