As you read this blog, you may be wondering if you are ready to take a travel healthcare assignment. Everything may seem so overwhelming and like a big leap to take. Am I ready for this? The truth is, you may never feel like you are 100% ready for travel. At some point, it is about taking the leap into the unknown.
Taking travel assignments definitely isn’t for everybody. Long-term travel can come with a lot of challenges. I definitely do not recommend that anybody who wants to travel goes for it. I urge you to consider the reality of travel before you do it. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are ready for a travel assignment.
Can You Walk Into a New Facility And Complete Your Treatments/Evaluations?
Travelers are expected to hit the ground running when it comes to working. You may or may not get an orientation at your facility. Mentorship, if any, may be over the phone. You may or may not have other clinicians in the facility, of your same discipline, that can help you learn documentation and billing.
You don’t have to be an A+ clinician to travel, but you do have to be able to do the job. If you are unable to independently perform evaluations and treatments in a given setting, then I would say that traveling is not for you. Traveling comes with a lot of professional growth opportunities. There is A LOT that you can learn professionally as a traveler by working in new settings, with new patients, and a variety of co-workers. However, you do need to be confident in the basics of evaluation (if a registered therapist) and treatment.
Often when people ask me how much clinical experience is necessary for travel, I ask them if they work PRN at any other buildings. Working PRN is a good judge of if you can travel or not. If you can do PRN on nights or weekends, it usually means that you are good to walk into a building and do treatments, even if you don’t particularly know the building and staff that well.
Can You Adapt To New Situations Or Does Everything Have To Be Done a Certain Way?
Travel is all about being flexible and adapting. You are going to work in a new building, with a new culture, new procedures, and new ways of thinking. If you are somebody who does not adapt to change well, traveling may not be for you. Things are not going to be like they are at home or like at your last building. Every place is slightly different.
Facilities are going to do things differently and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s your job to work and get the job done. If you blaze into a building and try to change things, you will probably face a lot of frustration and disappointment as a traveler.
Are You A Fast Learner?
Along with different procedures and new procedures comes new learning. Travelers have to be able to pick up things quickly. Whether it is learning a new electronic medical record, the codes to doors, or the procedures for writing orders and contacting doctors. You don’t have to be a “know it all” when you get to an assignment, but you do have to be able to learn the procedures and documentation system quickly.
Learning Tip: Writing notes to yourself during orientation is a great way to remember the names of people, door codes, procedures, and other important details. I recommend for travelers to always carry a clipboard and pen with them to take notes on the important information.
Can You Live Independently?
You don’t have to be preaching “Independent Women” from the rooftops but think seriously if you can live independently and live alone. Not only if you are capable, but if it will be good for your mental status. If it’s Friday night and you have no plans, are you going to be okay staying home?
Long-term traveling can be very emotionally challenging. It is normal to experience loneliness while traveling and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if the feelings continue and affect your well-being, traveling definitely may not be a good option for you.
People with a lot of hobbies and interests tend to do very well traveling. If you have things outside of work that keep you engaged, it creates a greater passion on assignments. It is also easier to connect with like-minded people while traveling if you share a hobby in common. Whether you enjoy working out, crafting, photography, or biking, hobbies are a great way to keep the mind and body busy on assignment. I became an avid hiker while traveling and now connect easily with other hikers everywhere I go by joining local hiking clubs.
While these questions are not the holy grail of being ready to travel or not, they are things to consider. If you answered more than YES than no to these questions, traveling may be a good option for you. If you answered more NO’s, traveling may not be the right fit you now. Although, it may be an option in the future as you mature and develop as a clinician. A large part of traveling is about being independent, both as a clinician and as an individual, and being flexible and adaptable to new situations.
If you want to learn more about travel healthcare and traveling as a therapist, check out these RESOURCES.