So you’re a new traveling therapist. The world is your oyster and everything is an exciting new adventure. Until something bad happens. Maybe you end up in a terrible assignment that is questioning your ethics, or maybe you realize that the traveler working next to you is making $300 more per week than you are. There is a big learning curve for travel. Here are my biggest tips for newbie traveling therapists to get ahead in the industry.
Work With Multiple Agencies
The majority of travelers work as subcontractors, meaning they contract through staffing agencies. It can be to your benefit to work with more than one agency. Agencies can offer different jobs, pay rates, and benefits.
Working with multiple agencies can increase the number of job opportunities you have, as well as increase your ability to maximize pay on assignment. With multiple agencies, you can compare and contrast pay packages and determine who is paying the highest. You probably would not buy a car after only seeing one price offer, so why would you accept a job only seeing the price offers of one agency?
Know Your Why
Working as a traveling therapist is not easy by any means. If you want to dive into this type of work, I think it’s important to know your why. You need to understand and have a grasp on why you are choosing to live this crazy life. Maybe you are trying to make more money than at home, want to diversify your clinical skills, explore new parts of the country, go skiing every winter, or maybe you want to be at the beach every winter. Figure out what it is that drives you and motivates you to travel.
Knowing your why is super important to help guide you in selecting assignments. When you know what your drive is, that can help you communicate what you want to your recruiters and help you select jobs that are right for you and your goals.
Ask A Lot of Questions On The Phone Interview
The phone interview is the one time you can talk to an employee of your prospective contract and get to know a job before you agree or refuse to take it. Make the most of this time. Have a list of questions prepped to ask and ask them! This is your only chance to feel out a job and see if it’s a good fit for you.
For a list of suggested questions to ask on a phone interview, check out my suggested list here.
Don’t Be Afraid To Turn Down A Position
“You can do anything for 13 weeks” is a common phrase that recruiters use to try and sway travelers into taking a bad position. I’m going to go out on a limb and say NO, you cannot do anything for 13 weeks. There are assignments out there that have emotionally abused and sucked the life out of me. I regret accepting them, to begin with.
That being said, if you know a position is not a good fit, or it’s going to lead to distress, don’t be afraid to turn it down. You are not obligated to fill a job unless you agree to it. Just because you had a phone interview does not obligate you to accept a job. The choice is yours.
Don’t Try To Change Things On Assignment
“The travelers come in here and try to change everything to do it their way.” These are common words uttered by managers and permanent staff who are disgruntled with travelers on staff.
When you go into a new assignment, you need to remember that not everybody and every place does things the same. Different facilities have different protocols. Just because something isn’t done the way you like to do it, or the way you’re used to doing it, doesn’t make it wrong. When you are a traveler on staff, remember to follow the rules and procedures of the place where you are working. Don’t be the traveler who goes into a building and tries to change everything.
Travelers have jobs because buildings need staffing. Sometimes, that staffing may be a bit chaotic or things could be a little crazy. You are there to help. Be flexible. Things may go wrong or they may not go as planned.
Being flexible and open to change and possibility can help alleviate unwanted stress as a traveler.
Have An Emergency Fund Of Money
Travel therapists work for 13 weeks at a time. Our job status is temporary, as is. On top of having short jobs, bad stuff can still happen to us. Contracts can get canceled with short notice (14 days or 30 days) at any time. Even if you think you have work for the next 13 weeks, it could end up being canceled. On top of that, accidents, family emergencies, and health issues could arise, which could cause even the youngest and healthiest of people to have to take unpaid time off from work.
For those reasons, it is SO IMPORTANT to have an emergency fund of money. At the very least, be prepared with money in savings to pay expenses if you have to take 3 months off of work. Most financial experts advise people in permanent positions to have an emergency fund of 6-9 months.
Connect With Other Traveling Therapists
Traveling can be lonely, even if you’re surrounded by people on assignment. It can be fulfilling to connect with others who truly understand your lifestyle, problems, and joys. I truly think it’s so important as a traveler to get connected with other travelers, whether it’s online or in real life. The Traveler’s Conference is the biggest event of the year for healthcare travelers (over 1000 people attend annually) and a great place to meet and network with other travelers. Online, there are so many ways to connect with travelers. Following the IG tags #travelpt #travelot #travelslp #traveltherapy #traveltherapyadventures can help you find other travelers. On Facebook, Travel Therapy Therapists has 10k members as of 2019 and is a great way to connect with other travelers.
Take The Guide To Travel Therapy Course
So I may be slightly biased on this one, but I highly recommend newbie travelers take my course, The Guide To Travel Therapy. This is a six-hour course that covers everything I mentioned in this piece and so much more. It discusses how to plan for travel, how to work with agencies to get a contract, and how to succeed on the job. It talks about the nitty-gritty of travel, like strategies to make more money, how to find housing, and how to prepare a resume to put yourself ahead of others to get a position.
Taking this course as a newbie traveler will not only save you time but potentially lots of money. I meet so many travelers who found out they were underpaid by THOUSANDS of dollars on contracts or lost money on housing. This is a course to definitely take before you make any newbie mistakes.
If you are a traveler, what tips do you have for new traveling therapists? Comment below!
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