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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!



“Contemporary Nomad”

Every day, someone asks me about traveling-what? why? how?

Suitcases

What? I’m a traveling occupational therapist. If you know someone in the traveling nursing field, it’s basically the same thing. Occupational therapy is a part of physical rehabilitation that works closely with physical and speech therapy in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, school systems, clinics, and even corporations. If you want to know more, email me (I could go on forever).

Why? My husband and I wanted to be able to see the country for a few years before we decided on settling down. At the beginning of our marriage, we had a health scare that taught us to live for today and do it now, instead of waiting for the perfect timing. We thought the idea of traveling around the country without a permanent spot sounded like a great idea for a couple of years, who gets to do that and still have a job and housing? The main answer for the question, “why?”, became “why not?”.

How? We tried for a while to sell our house in this suffering market, but we were not successful. Luckily, we found an awesome renter who is also a friend that wanted to rent our house for several years. We sold a majority of our things, put the rest in storage and packed up whatever fit in our car. Most rotations are only 3 months at a certain location-although they can be longer or shorter. A majority of our bills are covered by travel reimbursement and the traveling staffing company helps us find housing.

The traveling lifestyle is not always easy and sometimes it drives me crazy! We have to be super flexible with where we are headed next and when. Just because we want a job in a specific city doesn’t mean that one will be open when I need it.  There is always the danger of having to take too much time off to wait for the job we want, or having to be rushed to get to the next location. Normally we do not know where we will be headed until about 2-3 weeks prior the start of the job. I’m finishing up working at our current location in Erie, PA on Sept 10th, and we still are unsure of where we are headed next!

So I’m trying to embrace my nomadic roots in this planny-plannerson society where success is often measured in milestones. I’m definitely getting better at just “going with the flow” and knowing “whatever happens is meant to be”!