How to Pursue Advanced Training as an Allied Traveler
When you decided to become an allied traveler, you made a choice to live outside your comfort zone and grow in adaptability, adventure, and resilience. But even seasoned travelers are bound to plateau if they never challenge their professional skills. Advanced training can not only provide new knowledge and skills but also yield a more rewarding career—both financially and intellectually.
In this blog, I’ll explain how and why pursuing advanced training could be the next great decision you make for your career.
Burnout or Bore Out?
First, a bit of context. As a working healthcare professional, you’ve probably heard of burnout, physical and mental exhaustion that results from excess stress at work. It’s particularly common among physical therapists; data indicate that 1 out of 3 medical professionals experience burnout at some point in their careers. Another study puts that figure closer to 1 out of 2!
It’s not always burnout, however—physical and mental exhaustion can also indicate boredom. If you find your job monotonous, tedious, and no longer intellectually challenging, you could be on a fast track to what psychologists call bore out.
The good news is that both burnout and bore out are preventable. Research suggests that seeking professional challenges can reduce job boredom and increase work engagement. By pursuing advanced training, you can rekindle work motivation and stave off the boredom that no amount of traveling can fix.
5 Ways to Pursue Advanced Training
Even if you try just one of these ideas, you’ll enrich your professional life, become more well-rounded as a professional, and have more to offer each patient that comes your way. Or try them all, and you’ll never be bored!
1. Study for and Earn Board Certification
One of the best ways travelers can boost their careers is by obtaining board certification. For Physical Therapists, there are 10 board-certified specialties available from APTA:
Cardiovascular and pulmonary
Occupational Therapists can seek board certification from AOTA, which offers 3 specialty areas:
- Physical rehabilitation
The process for obtaining certification varies by board and by specialty. In general, however, you’ll need to accrue a minimum number of hours or years of experience working within your desired specialty. You’ll earn certification only after you’ve taken and passed a certification exam. Other specialties may require additional steps, such as submitting case reports or letters of recommendation.
If you’re considering board certification, be sure to check out the helpful prep courses available on MedBridge. These personalized, self-paced programs include several practice exams and hundreds of test questions to simulate the exam experience.
Through MedBridge, PTs can access the prep courses for 6 specialty certification exams. The Certified Hand Therapist exam prep course is available for both PTs and OTs.
2. Consider Other Online Specialty Certification
Besides these board-certified specialties, there are dozens more certifications available that run the gamut of specialization. From canine PT to skilled nursing, pain management to home health—there’s bound to be a specialty area suited to your interests and skills.
These days, many certification programs are available online, either fully remote or requiring an occasional in-person workshop. Such hybrid courses are particularly popular among travel therapists who can plan their itinerary to coincide with an in-person class.
Just be sure you choose a reputable source for your certification. Consider a provider such as Evidence in Motion, which offers as many as 18 specialty areas for PTs and 11 for OTs. Other providers may focus on a particular specialty area, such as concussion management from the folks at ImPACT. Don’t forget to check out what top DPT schools offer for specialization certification, such as the University of Pittsburgh’s Vestibular Rehabilitation program.
3. Additional Training in Focused Areas
Instead of viewing continuing education as a tedious obligation for license renewal, look at it as an opportunity to advance your training. Most states give you a wide berth in selecting the topics for your CEU course credit, so why not pursue a new focus?
For example, a CEU provider like MedBridge offers courses in pelvic floor therapy, immunotherapy, and work rehabilitation in addition to the dry jurisprudence and ethics courses you’re used to taking every year.
I mentioned MedBridge earlier for their certification prep exams, but their vast library of CEU courses is equally noteworthy. By paying an annual subscription, you’ll have access to thousands of hours of engaging course content that will both feed your career and starve your boredom.
4. Consider graduate studies outside of healthcare
As a physical therapist with an MBA and CFP® credentials, I know firsthand the value of nonclinical studies. My business interests constantly lend insight into physical therapy, helping me reevaluate, problem-solve and improve my practice at every turn.
But you don’t need a master’s degree or Ph.D. to reap the benefits of a diversified education. Even a few training courses outside of therapy will help you expand your skill set and gain a fresh perspective on your time in the clinic.
For example, check out this Business Management course from Evidence in Motion. It’s only six weeks long, geared toward PTs, and designed to equip serious therapists with the soft skills they need to move toward managing their own brand or clinic someday. If you’re more interested in building academic skills, APTA offers several professional advancement opportunities for PT educators and researchers.
Strike out from beneath the Allied Health Professions umbrella and you’ll find even more valuable training opportunities. One instance includes Six Sigma Training from Aveta Business Institute. This business leadership training institute offers five tiers of certification, called belts, that represent successive levels of training. Six Sigma helps corporations as well as individuals solve problems, unleash potential, and boost success in their businesses. And if it sounds too good to be true, consider that Six Sigma is used by government agencies as well as several top Fortune 500 businesses.
5. Read some non-traditional professional development books
Finally, furthering your education and advancing your career doesn’t have to come from such traditional sources as a university or institution. Why not take the DIY approach and read your way to a new perspective?
Reading is one of my favorite ways to advance my training. It’s self-paced, easy to do, and affordable. As a traveling PT, there’s a good chance you have plenty of time in the car, on a train, or on a plane to read or listen to an audiobook.
I’ve gleaned invaluable insights from several books, but the following are some of my favorites:
For more than 30 years, Stephen R. Covey’s seminal work The 7 Habits has inspired, impacted, and transformed the lives of professionals the world over. Across industries, these 7 habits have helped people embrace challenges and change, make the most of opportunities, and live more purposefully. For travel therapists looking to shore up some soft skills, this book is a great place to start.
Professor Robert Cialdini took a two-year sabbatical from teaching to conduct a field study on persuasion. During that time he held numerous jobs, from insurance sales to waiting tables, to study human behavior. His findings yielded internationally best-selling insights of Influence. As a therapist, you’ll find Cialdini’s ethical approach to persuasion useful not only in patient interaction but also professionally in your conversations with clinic managers and recruiters.
Bestselling author Chris Voss wrote this book after serving as a hostage negotiator with the FBI. His nine principles of negotiating will equip you for the “high-stakes deals” of normal life, from buying a house to negotiating your pay. Many of these principles also have a clinical application, such as when you need to solve conflict at work or push your patients toward progress. Check out this article to see how I applied these principles to land a great deal on a car.
From specialty certification to enriching reading, there’s a wide range of ways to advance your training as a therapist, even when traveling. Boredom and burnout can’t compete with a therapist who is engaged, invested, and ever-learning in their career.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the nonclinical Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” As a travel therapist, you’re already going places. But increasing your knowledge, learning new skills, and pursuing advanced training will take you to new heights in your therapy career.
Tim Fraticelli is a Physical Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™, and founder of PTProgress.com. He loves to teach PTs and OTs ways to save time and money in and out of the clinic, especially when it comes to therapy documentation or therapy continuing education. Follow him on YouTube for weekly videos on ways to improve your physical and financial health.