To be completely honest, I started looking into travel when I was still in grad school. I knew that I wanted to work with the pediatric population for the duration of my career so my first concern was how to become a travel PT and still only work in pediatrics. I almost put the idea of travel on hold because it didn’t seem like there were enough short term travel contracts with peds to be able to get back to back placements. However, that’s when I began considering traveling as a school-based physical therapist.
Right off the bat, I found that there were quite a few pros and cons to this idea, so as a list person… making a pros/cons list was exactly what I did.
There are certainly more pros and cons to school-based physical therapy, but these were the five that ultimately would play the largest role in my decision. As you may have already inferred, I made the decision to take the leap and see if the pros would outweigh the cons!
Overall, I’ve been working as a travel PT in the school systems for four years now so clearly the pros have continued to outweigh the cons. Personally, I love working with a team that genuinely cares about the children in their care. I think that working with teachers, school admin, SLPs, OTs, school nurses, school psychologists, and of course, families has made me a more well rounded PT. I am able to see the entire picture rather than just seeing the child’s function through my own scope of practice. In the schools, it’s important to consider everyone’s scope of practice, the time the child is spending in their educational environment, how the teachers/staff members are able to support PT/OT, etc. There’s also a wide age range as the job typically entails working with preschoolers through high schoolers.
Ultimately, being a traveling school-based PT has offered me more stability, great hours, the opportunity to travel more on weekends and holidays, and far more knowledge about how individual regions of the country handle the role differently. There are still cons, of course, but I’ve learned more in my last four years as a traveling school-based PT than I could’ve ever dreamt of learning. I will always stand by my choice to travel and I’m excited to see where my 2023-2024 school year will take me!
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