Tips to Have a Successful Travel Assignment
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So, you’re considering taking a travel healthcare position. It can be scary, and after hearing everyone’s tricks, tips, and horror stories you might even wonder if it’s worth it. Obviously, I am a little biased, but I think it’s totally worth it! Here are some of my own tips after 4 years that I think will help a new traveler.
Have Go-To Recruiters
I am a traveling therapist that typically works with 2-3 companies when looking for a new assignment. I believe this is the best way to get the best assignment with the most competitive pay. I have two recruiters that I continue to work with because they make the process enjoyable. I always keep them in the loop of my travel plans and they even send me emails with jobs they think I may be interested in occasionally. These relationships are important to keep in good standing.
Being a traveling healthcare professional comes with a lot of things you simply will only learn through experience. However, there is a lot of information that you can learn before hand to prepare yourself. First, it’s no surprise that a place that is requesting a travel position means it’s a hard position to fill. Most of the time this position is hard to fill either due to location or the job itself. Traveling therapy can also get complicated with taxes. There is a bit of tax free money involved. However, you want to make sure that you are doing everything correctly so you align with all the IRS guidelines. I am not a tax expert so check out Travel Tax for detailed information.
Be aware of the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
A large percentage of the travel therapy jobs are at skilled nursing facilities because not many therapists prefer to work there. With mostly outrageous productivity standards and unethical practices, it’s hard to not get burnt out. I worked at 5 SNFs and only one I can say I actually really enjoyed and felt that I wasn’t pressured to complete unethical activities. I’ve been told by managers that I could not discharge patients when I thought they were independent and ready to return home. I’ve been told to record that I took two 15 minute breaks when my schedule did not allow this. I’ve been told to work off the clock to meet productivity standards, and have had to have an excellent explanation whenever my productivity was less than the expected outrageous productivity standard (typically 90% or better). As a new therapist especially, it can be difficult to stand up to managers when you might feel like you don’t know enough to do so. Just know, if it feels wrong, it’s probably wrong. Remember, at the end of the day they need you more than you need them. The good thing about being a traveler is you typically don’t have roots to your travel job and it wouldn’t be a terrible thing if you had to leave. You may lose out on some money but the most valuable thing you have is your license and you would never want to do anything to risk that being taking away.
A Network of Therapists
It is always helpful to ask your fellow therapists for support and information. A lot of information I have learned from classmates and other therapists I have met along the way. For more specific networks for travel therapy search for the travel therapy groups on Facebook. There is a few of them and it’s a great place to ask questions and receive answers and opinions from other traveling therapists.
Required Consent before job submittals
Make sure that a recruiter is not submitting you to jobs without your approval. This is especially important if you are working with multiple recruiters. It’s been said that it looks bad if you are submitted to the same job by more than one company. I am not sure if this is 100% true, I think most people understand that this is how travel therapy works. However, do not allow recruiters to submit you to jobs without your knowledge or consent. If more than one recruiter presents me the same job, I look at emails/phone calls and whoever informed me first is who I let submit me to the job. This is the only fair way I have come up with to deal with this type of situation
Try your Best to have a Positive Attitude and lots of Flexibility
As mentioned before, travel jobs are typically not ideal. However, no matter how bad the facility, patients need us, and frontline staff are typically the ones who are the best patient advocates. I always tell myself at the end of the day I am here to treat my patients, to help them, and that’s it. No matter how ridiculous the politics get of working in healthcare, as long as I am doing what is right by the patient I feel like I am doing a good job. As far as flexibility, I feel schedule changes are a big part of travel therapy too. I make an effort to be extremely flexible and not be upset if a manager asks me to make frequent schedule changes. We work with people and people don’t follow a perfect schedule all the time. It can be hard for managers to know where and when you’d be needed most, so try your best to be understanding.
Traveling therapy is definitely not for everyone. It really takes a flexible attitude to be able to hang in this business.
What strategies do you use to have a successful travel assignment?