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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

How to Visit a Traveler

This past month, we’ve had quite a few visitors and began to prepare for our next move. At the end of March, my Mom & my nephew, Mickey came to visit for a few days. The first week in April, my best friend, Kellie & her husband Phil came to visit for a week-long birthday celebration (my husband & Kel’s birthdays are 4 days apart!).

When visiting a traveler:

1. Plan your trip near the end of your traveler friend’s time in that location. This way the traveler will know the area and be able to navigate the cool stuff.

Mom & Mickey with one of the locals

2. Be willing to sleep in small, cramped places, on the floor and share a bathroom.

Mickey enjoying the view

3. Save room in your suitcase for sheets, pillows, maybe even towels-no we don’t have extras!

At the base of the Manitou Incline, that summit up there is false!

Kel & I hiking down Barr Trail from the Incline summit

4. Be open to trying new food, new beer & wine, and seeing new things- that’s what the traveling lifestyle is all about!

Chad & Phil hiking down the dusty trail

5. Make sure you take EVERYTHING you brought back home with you, or it will likely go to Goodwill when we move again!

Me & the Husband with Kel & Phil @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

We had a great time with all of our guests! Thanks to my great friend, Erin, my Mom & Mickey, & Kellie & Phil for taking the time and money to come visit us in Colorado Springs!! It was great to be able to share our traveling adventure with friends and family. We are currently booking floor space for visitors this summer when we will be in the Bay Area in CA!

Here’s a list of some of the fun stuff we did:

D’Vine Wine

Cave of The Winds

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Manitou Springs and the Manitou Incline

Pioneer Museum

Shopping & Beer drinking in Boulder

Sunny Days are Here Again

The sunny days are finally outweighing the cloudy days here in Colorado. I’ve been waiting for some of these 300 days of sunshine that Colorado brags about! Luckily, the weather was beautiful for the weekend that my friend, Erin, visited. We recreated our fun, girl-y, college days by boutique shopping in the middle of the day while everyone else was at work, reading trashy magazines, eating chocolate, and having fabulous lunches. We had the best lunch ever at Adam’s Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs. Seriously, if you’re ever in the Springs area- just do it, go, and you won’t be disappointed.

While Erin was here, she cheered my traveling buddy, Lori, & I on during the St. Patrick’s Day 5K in downtown Colorado Springs. The race didn’t start until 10 AM- hells yeah!

Me & Erin before the race. Loved all the green! Green is my signature cu-llah (name that movie!).

Action shot by Erin!

Post-race brunch at The Olive Branch. I had an amazing strawberry smoothie to match my (still) pink face. Then we had to drive Erin straight to the airport to fly home to New Orleans. Miss her already!

Since the weather has been so nice, we’ve been trying to get in as much hiking as possible. One of the places we’ve heard about is Helen Hunt Falls (NOT named for the actress- I’m not a fan!), named for a writer & activist. It was gorgeous, but unbelievably still icy! The increase in elevation from Colorado Springs for many hikes= colder temperatures, ice, & snow- of course I always forget about this factor when dressing since it was such a non-issue growing up in Louisiana.

Iced over Falls

Love this picture Lori took while we were rested, even though Miss Kerbey was too cool to be seen with us.

I have a little less than 3 weeks left in this rotation! I’m going to be sad to leave, but excited to check out California! I’m not 100% sure on where I’ll be next, but I’ve been doing phone interviews & one in particular is promising! If it works out, I owe a lot to my recruiter, Kim, and my staffing company, Reflectx Staffing. They have been able to find me great assignments in unbelievable locations! “I love it when a plan comes together.” ( What TV show/movie??)