One of the biggest things that sets travel therapists apart from travel nurses is that, while nurses require at least 1-2 years of experience prior to traveling, therapists can start right out of school as new grads! As travel therapists, you can have freedom and flexibility right out of school to explore the country, try out different settings (inpatient, acute, outpatient, pediatrics, SNF, home health), earn more money, have the option to pay off student loans quicker, etc. But there’s also varying opinions about starting out this way, with many professors and other practicing therapists cautioning against it - things said like: “You won’t have enough experience yet,” or “You won’t get any mentorship”. So, which path should you take?
The answer: it depends completely on YOU and what you’re comfortable with! For me and many of my peers, we started as new grads right from the get-go and have no regrets choosing this path. However, this way might not be for everyone. So how do you know if it’s right for you and how do you get started?
1. Be true to yourself
Before deciding to take the leap into this lifestyle, take time to self-reflect:
2. Learn from current travelers & join the traveler community
One of the most beneficial things you can do to get started and determine if it’s right for you is to find resources from current seasoned travel therapists and immerse yourself in their tips and advice for all things travel therapy. Some of my favorite go-to’s are:
3. Find a recruiter/ agency
Even if you’re on the fence, talking to one or a few recruiters is going to be beneficial for making a decision on whether it’s right for you. As a traveler, your recruiter is your main point of contact when working with travel companies and searching for jobs. Therefore, it is important for you to have a recruiter you trust, who you feel comfortable with, who can answer your questions, and who you feel has your best interests at heart because they can honestly make or break a travel assignment. To find recruiters, you have several options:
4. Look into mentorship opportunities
As a new grad, mentorship is key to have and, unlike what many people think, there are options available as a traveler.
5. Have a plan in place
Here are some helpful tips that you may not think of initially but will be important to have starting out:
If you are considering traveling as a new grad, I hope this info has helped make the decision a little bit easier for you! At the end of the day, whether you decide to travel as a new grad or somewhere down the line, there really is no “right” time to start. What it comes down to is your level of comfort and what’s going to give you the best experience that aligns with your goals.
Written By: Morgan Lauchnor, Travel Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)