In one form or another I frequently get asked; “As a traveling therapist will I have to take a job?” The answer is simple: no. As a traveling therapist you will not be forced to take a job.
As a traveling therapist, you are a subcontractor; you work for agencies on a short-term basis to fulfill contracts. Picture yourself as a free agent who can change your employer every three months if wanted. You can switch companies as many times as you like or work with one company consistently. Either way, you are in total control of when you work, where you work and who you work for.
Spoiler Alert: not every contract is going to be your dream job, but you can prioritize what is important to you and where you want to work.
The pool of contracts available to you at any given time is going to be dependent on where you are licensed and the clinical skill set that you bring as a traveler. You can only work in states where you have a license. It is your responsibility to explain to your company(ies) and recruiter (s) which states you are licensed in and what you are looking for in your next assignment (location/setting/money, etc). You also want to accurately disclose your professional skill set when working on building a resume with your agency to submit for jobs. There will be jobs that you likely will not be a candidate for because your professional skills do not align with what the candidate is looking for. This is okay, we have broad scoops of practice and cannot be masters of everything.
From there, you recruiter will brief you on jobs that fit your needs/skills/interests for places that you are licensed in. If any of those jobs are a match for what you are looking for, you can ask your recruiter to submit your application to the position. If the client is interested in your application, you will be contacted to set up a phone interview regarding the position.
Phone interviews can range in length from minutes to an hour. This is the only time that you will have prior to working at a facility to ask questions and gage if the position is a good match for you.
If you need help thinking of questions for the interview check out my suggested question bank here: Phone Interview Questions
Note on phone interviews: I highly discourage anybody from phone interviewing “for fun” or “just to see about a job”. It is professional courtesy to only phone interview if you have a serious interest in the position.
If you are extended an offer after the interview you typically have around 24-48 hours to decide if you want to accept the job or not. This is a fast turn over for decision making. If you are given an offer it does not mean that you are obligated to accept because you did the interview. Use that interview time to your advantage to both sell yourself as a candidate and to determine if the job would be a good fit for you. Again, you are in control of your future.
If all goes well and you accept the job than you have your next 13 weeks booked up. Congrats!
When the Contract is Completed:
When your contract is completed it is like you are a free agent again. You are not bound to one company and can look for a new contract with the same company of a different one. Heck you can do whatever you want; you can go permanent, go back to school or hop on a plane to travel the world for months at a time.
You will not receive any compensation for your time after a contract is over so you will be essentially unemployed. However, the current company you are with or any future companies cannot tell you that you need to take an assignment. It is up to you to decide if you need to immediately take a contract or if you want to wait. When you finish a contract there may not be a job in the city or setting that you want to work in. In that case, it is up to you to determine your priorities and determine your next step.
While the simple answer to “Will I be forced to take a job as a traveling therapist” is “No”, I hope that I gave you a better understanding of the full process to better understand. At every point in the job cycle, you have control to say “yes” or “no” to a job and are ultimately the person in control of where you work.
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