Travel SLP Developing Unique Travel Memories
Traveler of the Month Grateful for Personal and Professional Opportunities
From Connecticut to California and then back to her East Coast roots, travel speech-language pathologist (SLP) Tanya De Herrera has been working travel SLP jobs since 2014. She started traveling with Advanced Medical, which eventually became Advanced Travel Therapy before joining forces with Med Travelers, an AMN Healthcare company.
Recently, her loyalty, adventurous spirit, and positive outlook helped her earn the Med Traveler's Traveler of the Month Award, an honor bestowed on standout travelers by their recruiters.
"I'm honored and humbled to have won the award," Tanya said. "Traveling has helped my career and who I am as a person."
In fact, Tanya credits her travel SLP jobs for helping her grow personally and professionally, for experiencing several one-of-a-kind travel memories, and for developing precious relationships with a diverse network of people across the country.
Starting out as an SLP
In 2003, Tanya became a speech and language therapist in the TEACH program at a private school that serviced children with various disabilities from New York City. Tanya felt fortunate to obtain her Teacher of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped certification in New York State in 2003 before the guidelines changed in 2004. Now an entry-level SLP position in a school requires a master's degree.
Some of Tanya's professors would later advise her to quit her job and concentrate on completing her graduate degree. Instead, Tanya tackled full-time work and full-time grad school at the same time. She graduated with her master's in speech-language pathology in May 2009.
After finishing her degree and working with school-aged children, Tanya wanted to work with adults and possibly get a clinical fellowship year (CFY). But, it was difficult to get a CFY in a medical setting in the New York City area. She ended up doing her fellowship at a private practice in Connecticut.
The clientele was primarily pediatrics, but she did work with a handful of adult patients and a few adolescents. Tanya completed her clinical fellowship in July 2010 and finished her contract at the private practice in 2011. Her plan was then to transition to working with adults.
A series of work and lifestyle changes
Before making a transition, she stopped to assess her employment situation. She had been on an arduous journey of working and school, and not having much free time or money. She had stayed close to her home in Westchester County, New York, and was now yearning to explore outside her comfort zone. She decided to pursue a life change but didn't want it to be permanent.
Tanya started researching allied health travel companies and had a few in mind. She connected and settled with recruiter Jenn Cross, who worked for Advanced Medical at the time (now Med Travelers). Tanya wanted travel assignments to work with adults, but potential employers said she needed more experience.
So, Tanya changed plans and worked per diem SLP jobs for about three years. She tried to go full-time with one of the companies that employed her, but they were slow to respond, which prompted Tanya to change direction again.
She confided in a friend about her frustrations and dissatisfaction with the course of her career and that she couldn't save money or pay off her student loans or other debt. That's when her friend asked, "Didn't you say you wanted to travel?"
Jenn had been checking in on Tanya since they first talked, so Tanya decided to give her a call. And that led to Tanya's first SLP travel assignment in Niantic, Connecticut, and the beginning of her allied travel lifestyle.
Building memories with travel SLP jobs
After numerous life changes and working travel SLP jobs for seven years, Tanya sums up traveling this way:
"Traveling is like you're on vacation, but you're also working," she said. "On the weekends, you can explore new places and meet new people, but you know on Monday that you still have a job."
Regarding meeting people, she said those personal interactions have formed her most precious travel memories. Two friendships stand out.
While on assignment in Pennsylvania, Tanya met a couple of friends she still talks to and meets with every once in a while when she goes home. One of them accompanied Tanya on a memorable California travel adventure.
Tanya was also thrilled to meet and interact with many people from different cultures and lifestyles.
"Given the diversity of America, it is very easy to have different experiences as you move to different areas of the country," she said. "From small farm towns that highlighted their agriculture and animals in annual expo fairs, to large cities that had an abundance of festivals and events held by various cultural groups, there was always something to do or see.”
“During my assignments, I've done a zombie walk, gone to ice festivals and many various cultural festivals, gone on scenic drives, climbed lighthouses and small mountains, explored nature, went on a camping weekend, went to the ballet, watched an opera from the middle of a baseball field, lived on a horse farm, lived with a Mexican artist who spoke very little English, helped make tamales, and participated in the San Francisco Carnaval Parade."
Tanya also loves having new food experiences. As a self-described foodie, she challenges herself to find popular dishes in each area where she's working.
One of her most memorable travel assignments was with Easter Seals in Los Angeles because it brought her back to her SLP roots: working with children.
But perhaps her favorite job was in the San Francisco Bay Area. While there, she made friends that she considers part of her family.
Tanya remembered being in the Bay Area, and her Airbnb host made her stay memorable and enjoyable.
"She was so welcoming and invited me into her life and community," Tanya said. "I never had a sense of community before this time, where I really felt like I totally belonged, so it was wonderful. It was like being with family."
Traveling also gave Tanya experience working in various settings, including home health, outpatient, schools, and skilled nursing facilities. She credits her hard work, experience, and her long-time recruiter for much of her travel success.
"Jenn knows what I want," said Tanya. "She knows my needs and dislikes. She has not steered me wrong to this point. She doesn't try to pressure me to take assignments that I don't want. She is willing to listen to me discuss whatever is going on in my life."
Ready for anything
Presently, Tanya wants to keep traveling as an SLP but will consider settling down when it's time. She said traveling has shown her that living outside of New York will not be an issue. By meeting many people and visiting different communities, she has expanded her options.
Along with learning about life outside of New York, Tanya says her travel SLP jobs have helped her become more flexible and prepared for anything.
"I feel traveling has helped me to be able to handle any type of situation," she said. "I could switch between treating adults and children if I had to, or even go back to home health."
READY to start making lifelong memories as Tanya has? Just apply with Med Travelers, and our recruitment team will help get you on your way!