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