Getting Started Travel Healthcare Guide Travel Therapy

How To Avoid a Bad Travel Assignment

January 29, 2018

Traveling therapists have different opinions on what makes a building or assignment good or bad. So how do you know if an assignment will be good or bad?  How do you avoid a bad travel assignment?


In my experience, there are 2 types of jobs that hire therapists (and travelers).  Type 1: The jobs that value therapists for the experience and knowledge that they bring to better serve their patients.  They value team collaboration, patient improvements and fair scheduling to manage a caseload. Type 2: The jobs that want a warm body carrying a license to crank out therapy sessions like a factory.  These jobs want high productivity and efficiency.


Most therapists that I know want to work for the Type 1 jobs.  But how, as travelers, do we get those jobs? Are those jobs even available to travelers?  YES they are and YES we can get them!  Here are my tips to landing a great assignment and avoiding a bad assignment.


1. Be a Therapist That Adds Value to a Department


Want to get a good job?  It starts with being a good job candidate.  Make yourself and your resume stand out.  Have skills that makes a building want YOU.  


Speech Pathologists will complain that they cannot get hired in an acute setting or a good hospital.  Yet, when I ask them if they have acute experience or can perform video swallow study independently the answer is no.  Simply put,  if you want a job, have the experience to make you stand out to get the job.  


Get the certifications and experience that will help you add value to a therapy department.


2. Be Flexible About Location


Certain areas of the US are saturated, while others, not so much  If you want to land a type 1 job then broaden your search to areas that may have a greater need for therapists.  It may not be your ideal location for travel, but it may be a great job opportunity.  


3. Ask Away on The Phone Interview


The phone interview is the only time you have to decide if this job is the right fit for you or not.  Use this time to ask questions to decide what is going to be expected of you on assignment and if it is the right fit for you.  


The phone interview is the time that you need to ask the hard questions.  Ask about productivity expectation, caseload numbers, etc. For a list of a suggested question bank check here: Suggested Phone Interview Questions. 


4. Do Not Sign a Contract If You Cannot Uphold Your End of the Agreement


A contract is a binding agreement that lays out details of a business arrangement.  In certain travel therapy contracts, a client will list a productivity or caseload expectation.  When reviewing and signing a contract, do not sign it if you cannot uphold  your end of the contract.  


I talk to a lot of people who are upset because their facility wants them to reach a certain productivity level.  When I ask more about the situation, I often hear that the productivity expectation was written into the contract and they agreed to it.  If you agree to upholding a certain level of productivity, then expect that you will have to meet that productivity.  If you cannot, then do not sign the contract or take the job.  


5.  Don’t Be Frustrated By Inconveniences


On assignment, you are there to fill a desperate staffing need.  These needs may come with wait lists of patients, unorganized documentation, requests to work at multiple buildings, requests to work overtime and referrals stacking up.   Don’t let inconveniences ruin an assignment for you.  Expect that a job will be challenging and you will have to work harder than if you were at a full time position.


I see so many people who get frustrated by things that may be so small.  People who want to end an assignment because they have to work an occasional weekend day or travel to a different facility.  I once worked with a couple of therapists who quit their contract because the building that we were working at was low census and the managers were requesting them to travel to a sister building 10 miles away.  While people literally ENDED THEIR CONTRACT over this, I honored the request and found great joy in traveling to the sister building.  


6. You Attitude Will Make or Break an Assignment


Attitude is everything.  I have had great assignments (both Type 1 & Type 2) that other assignments have viewed as terrible.  What is the difference?  Our attitudes.  If you walk into a job with a bad attitude it will reflect in everything you do and vice versa.  Your experience of an assignment will reflect the attitude you had toward it.


There are good assignments out there and there are bad ones.  While sometimes it can be important to avoid a bad assignment, your attitude can actually turn a bad assignment into a good one!


What do you to to find and keep a positive assignment?  Feel free to share your comments below. 🙂

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