Therapists. Who Travel. Travel therapists! Travel therapy is not a dream. This is not even crazy. This is something a lot of SLPs, PTs, OTs, and therapy assistants all choose to do. And most end up so glad they took the leap into becoming a traveler. I myself am one of those “crazy travelers” who could not be happier I said yes to this lifestyle and career path! It takes a bit of bravery, a slice of preparation, and a side of clinical experience. But to be really honest, it’s not hard to get started. Many times the hardest part is just making the decision to go for it!
Pros of travel therapy:
- Low commitment: contracts are only 13 weeks at a time (usually)
- Travel therapists and assistants have control over where they go
- More money and with a portion of it being tax-free (almost always)
- Freedom, a career that is flexible
- Fewer office politics
- Ability to take extended time off to hike the Appalachian Trail, travel to Bali, or just spend time with your family throughout the year
- Avoiding burnout
It’s not hard to get started! The hardest part is just your own mindset and deciding to go for it. Many of you could be starting your first travel assignment in just three weeks from today!
Cons of travel therapy:
- Less stability, contracts do get canceled (rare)
- You are a contractor, which means no paid sick days or vacations. You only get paid the hours you work (typically)
- There are not contracts in every location, you need to have some flexibility
- Finding housing in each location
- Paperwork and credentialing between each contract
- Learning to negotiate and communicate with multiple recruiters
- Being comfortable with being uncomfortable. You are constantly embracing the unknown and being the new girl or guy!
- Minimal orientation. You must be clinically skilled, confident, and be able to see patients right away.
Who travel therapy is best for:
- Therapists and therapy assistants who want to travel!
- Therapy assistants who have at least 2 years experience total
- Therapists and therapy assistants who have strong references, can pass a drug screen, and rock a skills checklist and phone interview
- Therapists and therapy assistants who can hit the ground running and be great for the facility that needs them to help
- Therapists and therapy assistants who are willing to be flexible. Yes, you will probably need to adapt to whatever your facility (who is paying major dollars for you) needs from you.
Why does the travel therapy industry exist?
Two words: therapist shortage.
Facilities and patients need techs and respiratory therapists. Permanent staff sometimes can’t cover all the patients. Or they have babies and need some time off. Or they go on strike. Or they are learning a new computer program and need time to train. Or there is a seasonal spike of patients each year. So a traveler can come on in for 13 weeks and help out while the facility is either trying to hire their own permanent staff or giving someone maternity leave (etc, etc).
Travelers are expensive, yes. But it’s not crazy for a facility to want us. Finding their own staff, interviewing them, dealing with resumés, onboarding, orienting, offering benefits, liabilities… that is really hard and expensive too. Their PRN pool might not be dependable or big enough for when they need help quick- so here we are! Travelers are a great solution.
We are meant to be skilled, talented, credentialed, and ready to help out. When we come in with a friendly disposition and in a mindset of service, we are loved and really helpful to facilities around the whole country. If you are interested in being a travel therapist or travel therapy assistant, then grab a latte and keep on learning. You could be just weeks away from being one of us.
Cheers to life on your terms,