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So You Think You Can Travel?

I started this blog to accompany my journey as a traveling Occupational Therapist (OT). <–seriously, check this out if you don’t know about OT, Barbara does an excellent job explaining OT and the similarities/differences from Physical Therapy (PT).   OT was ranked by U.S. News and World Reports as one of the Top 50 Jobs of 2011, that’s Riiight! We’re Moving on up!

I started traveling a little over a year ago and I get a lot of questions about this lifestyle and Occupational Therapy.

Here’s the lowdown:

Travel healthcare providers are throughout a variety of professions: Nurses, OTs, PTs, and Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs), are the most prevalent. Travel healthcare professionals are employed by a staffing company. The staffing company matches up the traveler with a facility. The Healthcare facilities are often short-staffed due to turn-over, maternity leave, or lack of medical based universities nearby. These facilities go to staffing companies to fill the positions with travelers. The staffing company is the middle man that makes it happen, however the traveler and the facility must agree upon certain details. The best part is the autonomy involved for the traveler (and the whole “paid living expenses” thing)! As a traveling OT, I have the option to look at jobs within a specific area or state (as long as I have an OT license for that state) and decide which assignment I would like to have and for how long I would like to stay in one place.  A typical contract is 13 weeks (3 months).  The staffing company will assist with housing, furniture, utilities, etc or they will pay you a housing stipend if you’re a control freak and want to do it yourself.

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MYTHS ABOUT TRAVEL:

- Traveling with a pet is impossible: NOPE- I do it and actually most of the travelers I know have a dog(s).

-Travelers don’t have health insurance or benefits: National health insurance program with a 401K, baby!

-Traveling is a great fit for new grads: not really, it’s best to feel confident with your skills as a traveler because you have to adapt to a multitude of settings which may be rough for new grads who need mentors

-Travelers have to be single: He put a ring on it 5 years ago and he’s able to travel with me, we make it work!

MUST HAVE:

Traveling has some requirements besides a degree and a license:

-Sense of adventure

-Confidence in your skill set for various facilities

-Reliable vehicle that will make it from Cali to Maine if necessary!

-Flexibility AND Adaptability- some other traveler may get the Hawaii position, you have to be ready to go somewhere new at the click of the mouse!  Adaptability because you have to be able to adapt to new working environments quickly.

PROS:

-Personal & professional growth

-Trial & error- you can test out a variety of cities, states, and settings with only a 13 week commitment!!

-Colorado for ski season, Boston in the summer, stop by National Parks- see the country & get paid!

-Networking- make connections across the country, you may want to go back someday!

CONS:

-Fear of the unknown- new city, new job, new apartment, new BED; every 13 weeks or so. I actually thrive off of the “new-ness”, but I know this would cause others to panic

-Loneliness missing family and friends, not knowing anyone at first

-No more “stuff”-as a traveler you can take what you can fit in your reliable car, or pay for shipping. This means clothes, toiletries and personal items that you can’t live without. Prepare to store or sell everything else. Most people hate this, again, it was one of my favorite things about getting on the road.

So that’s it. I would love to hear from other travelers about their experiences on the road!



Picture Pages

Picture pages, picture pages time to get your picture pages……remember? with Bill Cosby? you know you want to youtube it! Good times! I love when random memories from childhood come bubbling up, like when Sesame street would show how something was made in 60 seconds? My favorite was the crayon factory, fo sho. So here’s my most recent picture pages; around the Bay Area and in Sonoma, CA, also went hiking in Yosemite with some friends.

Chocolates in Sonoma @ The Chocolate Cow

Viansa Winery

Vineyards for the Reserve wines

 

The Valley @ Yosemite

 

 

Beautiful view, with Half Dome on the left

 

Lower Yosemite Falls

 

Artisan bread @ Mountain View Farmers Market

 

Veggies!

 

Its not a Farmers Market until you see the sunflowers

Sonoma was perfect, not too hot for us Southern Louisianians, and much less pretentious than I expected. It was cute and had more of a country charm. I would definitely recommend Viansa Winery, Vella Cheese, & Chocolate Cow in Sonoma. Yosemite was gorgeous, crowded in the middle of the week, and has an unexpected full outdoor mall of gift shops. Luckily that is only a very small part of the vastness of the park, although we could see a man made lap pool from our lookout that kinda irked me. Overall, the beauty there is breathtaking and it’s definitely unfair that so many gorgeous sites are packed into one state. The local farmers market in Mountain View is amazing, its huge with tons of vendors, organic & conventional. I was surprised by the numbers of bakeries present. The vendors definitely put a lot of hard work and dedication into their products, which is why the market is usually pretty busy. We still have 6 mo’ weeks of fun in Cali! Plenty of time to make some pages full of pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Beaches

Coming from Southern Louisiana, the beaches we would often visit were in Alabama/Florida Panhandle or the “Emerald Coast” if you’re fancy like that. Those beaches had silty, white sand that was blazing hot and small waves in cool water. Everyone took a dip in the water, even if it was just to cool off and usually you would be dry again after 20 minutes in the tireless sun.  I spent several long weekends there from my time at college in New Orleans, and I loved those beaches!

August 2009 trip to Orange Beach, Alabama

Now we’re living in Northern California for the time being, and the beaches are definitely different than our “norm”. This is what I’ve learned:

1. They are cold and they have cliffs!

Half Moon Bay

2. The sand is more like gagillions of little pebbles and the waves are BIG! The crashing waves will easily lull you to sleep.

3. FOG! You’re driving to the beach, windows down, music up, blue skies, excited to be almost there….. and it creeps over you and hides the sun.

4. Rocks, seaweed, and dog friendly!!

Carmel, CA

5. You can wear all those linen long sleeve shirts and scarfs that you see fashion models wearing in the magazines on the beach. Back home, I would see these ads and think those women were insane…now I know & I want to throw in one of those “summer sweaters”.

Actually, I love the beaches here, too! I like that I can wear actual clothes to the beach & not leave dripping in sweat. I like that I don’t have to prepare a fake tan for 2 weeks prior to going to Northern California beaches, because I’ll likely never be warm enough to be in a bathing suit. I love that dogs are allowed on several popular beaches and I adore the cute beach towns here. My favorites so far are Carmel and Half Moon Bay, and I’m sure I’ll discover more in the next 2 months.

I do miss swimming in the Gulf, floating on raft, or body boarding and getting tossed in the waves.  The only people going into waves here are under 10 or have a wetsuit and a board. I also long for the “shopping high” after getting deals at the outlets lining the Gulf coast highways.

I’ve always loved being near the water for relaxation, reflection, inspiration, sleep, and drinking. All in all, the beach is one of my favorite places to go, no matter which coast I’m on!

10 Things

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this old travel blog, and its partly because I’m tired of thinking and writing about myself. But since I’m not really an expert on anything else, I’ve decided to keep on keeping on.  Here’s 10 things:

1. West Coast living is totally different than any other place I’ve been.

2. We had to start our 4 year old boxer on hip and joint vitamins already.

3. I’ve never been so excited to see another New Orleans’ Saints fan in my life, although they were wearing a Bush jersey and maybe it was just because of the USC connection.

4. I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal free app on my phone to track calories and nutrition info and I love it.

5. We’ve been playing the card game Gin Rummy lately as an excuse to sit at the table and drink wine together.

6.  I just started reading The China Study, and now I want to send a copy to everyone I know.  Even those people who will see it as some type of agenda or manifesto, in the very least it will make you think about your food.

7. My husband has introduced me to Jon Stewart, only in the figurative sense, and I think he’s hilarious!

8. Something about being closer to water has a very uplifting quality for me, so it’s surprising that so many Californians seem so pissed off all the time.

9.  My goal in the next week is to go on a “cheese trail”  tasting in Petaluma, west of Sonoma.

10. We’re in Palo Alto, CA for now until the end of August, space is pretty much booked for visitors and we’re not sure where we are going next. Maybe continue up the Western Coast? Little nervous about November in Washington state!

California Love

I realized while talking on the phone to a friend tonight, I realized that I have been in California for 1.5 months already! Where has the time gone? Here’s some pics to document where it went:

Golden Gate Bridge on a Beautiful day!

Santa Cruz on Our 5 year Anniversary

Lisa and I getting our bib numbers for Bay to Breakers!

Costumes for Bay to Breakers- made out of bed sheets on the side of the road

On the boat to Alcatraz

Getting our Redwood fix at Big basin State Park

On the beach @ Carmel, a magical place

The California experience has been mostly a “thumbs up” so far. I made a list mostly pertaining to Silicon Valley and the region:

THUMBS UP 

*weather

*Trader Joes, Sprouts, Peets

*scenic vistas

*dog beaches

*redwoods

*mid-level hikes

*Carmel/Monterey

*National Parks

*San Francisco

*lots ‘o wine

*Bike lanes

*local produce!

THUMBS DOWN

*expensive (i.e. gas prices, food)

*over populated

*not so friendly people

*over-rated chains (i.e. In-N-Out Burger, Pinkberry)

*expensive movies- don’t they make movies out here?, shouldn’t they cost LESS?

So that’s what I’ve learned the last month in a nutshell.

Road Trippin’

Did you know it takes at least 22 hours to get from Colorado to California’s Bay Area? I did not, geez, it only took 18 hours from the Louisiana coast to Colorado. We had some fun in the past 3 days of driving, as well as some not so fun times (going through Death Valley with 55 mph wind gusts with all our possessions strapped to the top of our lil’ Prius)! The best thing about the trip was visiting Arches National Park in Moab, UT.

Delicate Arch

Standing in the enormous Arches has a way of centering a person, I felt connected to the Earth and appreciative to witness such a beautiful place. Definitely made the stress of traveling melt away while we were hiking.

We made it to California yesterday and have been enjoying the beautiful weather and absolutely gorgeous plants & flowers. Although it’s not all sunshine and roses-we are stuck in an extended stay hotel for the next week while we are awaiting our apartment placement- a usual hazard as a traveling therapist. So I wake up with mountain bike tires parked next to my face. Traveling contract work is definitely a lesson in not sweating the small stuff! It’s not often that a job in the exact location that you want to travel opens up at the same time that you’re available AND there’s a dog-friendly apartment just waiting for you?! puh-lease, I can’t complain.

Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em

There’s a stereotype that most traveling health professionals live up to (or at least the ones that I know), that we are non-committal. We are kind of spoiled that way- 3 months at a job then in most cases we can choose to stay or go. I chose to stay in Colorado Springs for 6 months instead of 3 for several reasons, but the biggest reason was because I absolutely loved my co-workers at Memorial Hospital (if you go to this link, at the bottom of the page is a video of some of my BFF  PTs, OTs, and STs!)

The best thing about working at Memorial as a traveler was that there is a large group of therapists to help with the orientation process and to build friendships. Sometimes it can be lonely or boring on the road, so it was nice to have so many new friends at work. I also felt like the therapy staff had a lot of individual strengths which made a good team (i.e. some therapists experienced with splinting or visual training, some had more neuro training, etc) and I ended up learning a lot.

The Awesome Arlette, PT & The Lovely Lisa, OT @ the Christmas Party

The staff really knows how to work as a team, and I always felt included even as a traveler. A couple of weeks ago, they even had a happy hour for me. I’m happy to say that no one cried in their beer (ok, maybe I did a little)!

Me & The Super OTs-Erin & Cindy!

The OT Travelers-We're the Love 'Em & Leave 'Em Type!

The Super Nice Meghin & Myself @ Happy Hour

This is the first assignment where I’ve had such a hard time leaving work, not just the staff, but also some of my patients. I know they are all in great hands. It was a hard decision to leave Colorado Springs & Memorial, but I’m sure I’ll be back to visit.  I really did love ‘em and I wish I could take them all with me, work will not be as fun without this great group! In the mean time, any travelers looking for a fun rotation with a great Rehab Team, make your way to the Springs!

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