Your Sign to Jump into Travel Physical Therapy
Experience from a New PT Grad
This is it! The sign you needed to make the jump to travel healthcare! I remember looking for someone to tell me what to do when I was trying to make that decision, so I figured I would help you all out with a clear sign to go for it. It’s tough to get started because you are being pushed by influencers on Instagram with all the fun videos but pulled back by your friends and family with their misconceptions and worry. Starting is the hard part, as it is in every great adventure! If you ask me though, this is an incredible opportunity for us as healthcare professionals!
I am a new grad from Georgia, just out of Physical Therapy school. You will hear a lot of opinions about traveling as a new grad. You have the recruiters reeling you in with all the flashy things like pay, your professors or classmates (that likely have no idea about traveling) telling you how you need a solid mentor, and you have your friends and family deterring you out of their own fear and uncertainty. It gets confusing!
This experience is all too fresh for me but I want to get it out there—the bottom line is, you won’t know until you try it! Just what you wanted, a generic piece of advice, right? While that is true, in my opinion, if you made it through the chaos and adversity of schooling in a healthcare field, you can be successful in the chaos and adversity of working in the travel healthcare field.
Here is How it Went for Me
I was living in Charlotte, NC for my last two clinical rotations and I just knew that I would happily work for either of the two companies that I interned with, in a permanent position.
They each spoke with me about a permanent position and at that point, all that was left was to make a decision before graduation, so that I could be in line with the rest of my classmates who already had jobs lined up.
Well, the problem was, how would I travel the world with one week of PTO? Would I be happy in this setting, having only been a student in two different settings? How would I pay for my travel habit off of a permanent position salary? Is this where I want to live forever?
All of these questions, and so many more, were starting to weigh on me. I had considered travel therapy for a long time, but I had decided that I needed to wait until I was a more experienced clinician. At that point, I had only done some research online and just made that decision on my own. Then my best friend, who was in my PT class, brought up that we should travel together.
You know how it goes when two friends have an idea…you go for it.
We each called about 3 different recruiters, made an excel spreadsheet, and started making moves. Again, starting was the hard part, and just to be clear, starting will always be the hard part, every single contract, every 13 weeks, it will be the hard part.
We had to go through several long months of not being able to answer, “what are you going to do after graduation?” This means we had to explain our “plan” to professors, relatives, our parents, and our classmates—none of whom had any idea about what it is like to be in travel healthcare. We had to wait to take boards and then for the board to approve our licenses so it seemed like forever that we didn’t have an answer for where we were going next. It was the hard part.
Even after we knew where we were going, it was still hard. We had to get licensed, pack, say goodbye, find a tax home, and find a short term rental. I’ll say it again for the people in back, it was hard. And then, all of a sudden, it was fun. It was a lot of fun.
I was living in Alexandria, VA, with my best friend, doing the job I worked towards for 7 years, making good money! My experience at work wasn’t even that great, and it was still fun. I have one of those stories you hear about where the new grad had a bad mentor and a huge caseload but somehow, I still had fun. The truth is, you are more ready for this job than you realize. You are ready to make the jump, even without a resume full of experience.
The bottom line is that you will never be 100 percent ready. Even as an experienced clinician, you will never be perfectly ready because we can always make excuses. We can always talk ourselves out of pushing our comfort zones because that's easy. This is hard work, but hey, you’re used to that, you’re a healthcare professional! And just like our job, this hard work is worth it!