Why should I consider being a traveling therapist?

Therapists choose to work for contract staffing agencies for lots of reasons. Some therapists want to just travel. They love adventure and want to explore different areas of the country. Some therapists travel to earn more compensation.

New graduates often travel for a year or two to assist in paying off student loans. Other therapists use travel as a way to maximize their earning potential by working in places where their skills are in high demand.

And some therapists, who are new to an area, want the flexibility of a temporary job while they figure out where they want to put down roots.

Some therapists haven’t found their area of focus yet, and want to experiment with different settings.

I became a traveler to earn extra money to start an outpatient clinic. However, in working as a contract therapist, I discovered that I could fill a niche in this industry by providing short term staffing that is owned and managed by a therapist. Although an outpatient clinic may still be in my future, for now, I’m enjoying the freedom and flexibility of the travel industry.

What have you found enjoyable about being a traveling therapist?

I like the variety of working as a travel therapist. I get to experience most settings. For example, in 5 years, I’ve worked in 4 settings; home health, sub-acute, acute care, and outpatient, and about 14 different facilities. I have enjoyed meeting many excellent therapists. I get to see how other people practice physical therapy and how they interpret what excellence is. In each placement, I glean knowledge and experience that makes me a better therapist.

If I ever want to settle down, I know what I want to look for. As I go through all these different placements, I’ve been able to figure out what’s a fit for me.

I like being free of office politics. I don’t have to comment or take sides in staff and facility conflicts. It’s nice to be able to go in, get my work done, and go home.

So, what have you discovered to be the hard part of being in travel therapy? Have you found any challenges?

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that it makes sense when therapy department members treat me differently from the rest of the team; some co-workers don’t invest in a fellow employee who is only working for a short time. Of course, some travelers don’t experience this at all, because they plan to eventually become a permanent employee at the facility.

Also, I initially found the uncertainty in a traveler’s lifestyle to be a bit stressful. I don’t usually find out where my next assignment will be until a few weeks before the start date. Yet, I’ve learned from experience that a new opportunity always shows up. The suspense of where and what that opportunity will be is part of the adventure.

And finally, I’ve found that some facilities have high expectations for my productivity. I have to get up to speed fast and be as productive as their highest performing employee. I am usually able to meet those expectations within one to two weeks, but those can be challenging weeks.

What’s my next step in becoming a travel therapist?

Contact a travel therapy staffing agency. They will let you know what jobs are available and set up your interviews.

What do you recommend I look for in a travel staffing company?

Of course, the most important thing in a travel staffing company is that they have a job that you’re interested in. However, the following factors can be just as important, and make sticking with a company worthwhile, even when the job that they have available is your second or third choice.

  • LISTENING SKILLS  Good travel therapy staffing agencies act as your agent. Look for a company that’s listening to your needs and to what YOU want, and will only contact you about positions that you are truly interested in.
  • SUBMISSION POLICY Your resume shouldn’t leave the agency’s desk until they get your permission. You should be treated as a person, and not as a commodity to be traded.
  • THERAPIST OWNERS  This benefits you because your travel therapy staffing agency will understand both candidate and client sides of any issue. If clinical problems arise, you have a therapist available to help you interpret whether or not something is ethical.
  • DEDICATION  Find out whether or not you will have the same person working with you throughout your interview process. Will the same representative work with you throughout your travel career?
  • COMPASSION This is hard to measure, but you should feel like your recruiter has time for you.
  • COMPREHENSIVE BENEFITS  Make sure to investigate the plans behind your benefits. Full health insurance – or capped limited coverage plan? Retirement plan with a company match? Paid Holidays? Tuition Reimbursement? License Reimbursement? Travel Tax Advantages.

Devin started the company in 2007, after 5 years of managing an outpatient clinic in Allegan, Michigan.

Prior to that, he worked as a staff Physical Therapist at Northern Michigan Hospital, in Petoskey, Michigan; rotating between inpatient, outpatient, and sub-acute settings. In 1991, Devin earned his undergraduate degree from Calvin College, where he played baseball and majored in Education. In 1996, He earned his Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University. At Northern Michigan Hospital, Devin specialized in diabetic foot care, participating in their weekly foot clinic. As part of this clinic, Devin learned total contact casting and became a certified pedorthitist. He has also completed 3 levels of the North American Institute for Orthopedic Manual Therapy at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He and his wife, Kris, have 5 children. When he’s not riding his bike, Devin can be found hiking, camping, and enjoying the outdoors with his family. They reside in Zeeland, Michigan.

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