Comfort Zone Departure Results in Traveler of the Month Award
By Joseph Duffy, contributor
Growing up in a small town in central Massachusetts, Ellen Tansey, M.S., CCC-SLP, developed a strong desire to unleash her adventurous spirit after finishing her clinical fellowship.
She went online and found a service that suggested travel companies. Soon after speaking to Med Travelers recruiter Kalie Simmons, Ellen accepted her first assignment.
Little did she know then that only two years later, she would have worked travel assignments across the country — and earned the Traveler of the Month Award.
“I had stayed at home for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and I’d been working parttime the entire time I was in school, so I didn’t get a chance to get out much,” Ellen said. “I wanted to travel the country and see which work locations were best for me. Traveling has been a great experience to venture out of your comfort zone in terms of settings that you might want to work in.”
After her clinical fellowship, Ellen decided to test her travel stamina by taking her first six-week travel assignment at an outpatient pediatric clinic in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From there, she made a big jump to a Wyoming skilled nursing facility. Then it was on to the Golden Coast, where she took an assignment at an outpatient pediatric clinic in San Jose, California. After a couple more assignments, Ellen returned to Massachusetts to work in a skilled nursing facility.
In her short time traveling, she has collected several positive references for her outstanding performance.
Med Travelers Award
Even with her positive reviews, Ellen was surprised when she was told she won the Med Travelers Award.
However, Kailey, her recruiter, was clear why Ellen was nominated: “Ellen has a great attitude when it comes to all things travel,” she said. “She is currently transitioning to work with one of our MSP clients in a heavy COVID facility. Ellen cares more about taking care of her patients and leaving a positive impact on them. She is also solutionsoriented when problems arise.”
Ellen agrees with Kalie that one of her strengths is proactive problem solving and that it is an essential quality for any traveler.
“I’m very vocal about things, and I want to make sure that I’m solving problems before they become bigger issues,” Ellen said. “For example, if I get to a job, and there are 12 evaluations that I have to do, I advocate for myself and for my patients to make sure that I’m providing them with the best care, which is my No. 1 priority.”
Traveling During COVID-19
COVID-19 has made patient treatment challenging at Ellen’s current skilled nursing facility assignment. She said therapists are allowed to enter patients’ rooms, but the facility requires masks and gowns. And when working with elderly patients who rely on lip-reading, masks make communication difficult.
“It just forces you to be a little bit more creative in the ways that you’re providing therapy, no matter what population it is,” Ellen said.
Ellen was working in a school setting when the CODIV-19 pandemic was declared. She was considered an essential employee, which meant doing teletherapy with her patients.
The challenge, she said, was treating patients with multiple diagnoses via teletherapy.
“For children with a severe autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, it’s hard to sit and try to communicate with them during the teletherapy session,” she said. “Or you may interact with a child with a behavioral difficulty who wants to slam shut the computer and not focus on you. It impacted the way that I treated patients.”
Traveling Right After Her Clinical Fellowship
Ellen looked back at going straight to traveling after finishing her clinical fellowship and said there was some apprehension, especially jumping into a skilled nursing facility.
“It was nerve-racking, but I try to educate myself as much as possible,” she said. “As long as you can explain to people what and why you’re doing something, they will respond well. Being confident is important in the workplace, and it’s not necessary to have an answer right away.
What’s critical is relying on your current practice, and saying, ‘You know, I don’t know the answer to this, but I’ll definitely figure it out and get back to you.’ Also, it’s essential to know your strengths and weaknesses as a traveler and with the client populations you’re working with.”
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