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SLP Travel Jobs Freed Therapist From ‘Doing the Same Therapy Sessions Over and Over’

By Ed Lamb, Contributor

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Julia Kuhn accepted her first SLP travel job nearly a decade ago. She hasn’t stopped traveling as a speech-language pathologist ever since.

In fact, she found her travel SLP jobs so personally and professionally rewarding that she created The Traveling Traveler: Travel Healthcare Resources website to encourage other allied health professionals to get the most from short-term assignments in a range of practice settings.

Asked to describe the SLP travel that most opened her eyes to the benefits of traveling as a speech-language pathologist, she recalled her first posting in an inpatient rehab facility for stroke and brain injury sufferers.

“I had primarily worked with contracts in skilled nursing facilities,” she said.

“Here, there was a great team on the unit that rounded every other day and did weekly team meetings to determine plans of care. The patients were very acute and benefited greatly from the therapy that I was providing, so I was able to see people who made progress every single day and was able to facilitate that progress.”

Kuhn also appreciated the assignment for allowing her to gain confidence as a clinician and to develop her skills in providing therapy to patients with severe verbal communication deficits.

“I felt like a central part of the team and that my professional opinions were highly valued,” she said.

Med Travelers offers similarly challenging opportunities, but Kuhn wants everyone to understand that SLP travel jobs exist for any set of current skills, personal preferences, and career goals.

Enjoying the Flexibility and Financial Security of SLP Travel Jobs

Kuhn earned her master’s in communication sciences and disorders from Boston’s Emerson College before spending two years in a full-time position as a medical speech-language pathologist. Since then, her SLP travel jobs have ranged from Level I trauma centers to home health care. She tends to work with adult and geriatric patients who have developed problems with speaking and swallowing.

Her time helping patients all across the United States has convinced Kuhn that travel SLP jobs deliver 10 primary benefits, which, paraphrased from one of her blog posts are:

  • 1. Traveling
  • 2. Enjoying adventures
  • 3. Taking extended time off in between assignments
  • 4. Growing in clinical and professional skills
  • 5. Switching between settings
  • 6. Learning from new patients, co-workers and facilities
  • 7. Developing leadership and interpersonal skills
  • 8. Gaining exposure to new cultures and subcultures
  • 9. Leaving in 13 weeks when a job is not your cup of tea
  • 10. Earning money

From this list, Kuhn focuses on “travel, ability to take time off in between contracts and money because they kind of actually all roll into one benefit.”

As she explained, the complementary benefits are what keep her passionate about pursuing travel SLP jobs.

“The main reason that I still love taking travel contracts is because of the freedom it gives me,” Kuhn said. “I have freedom as a traveler in ways that I could never achieve as a full-time, permanent therapist. The higher money that I make gives me the opportunity to save for time off.”

Hitting the Ground Running With SLP Travel Jobs

Kuhn quickly learned to appreciate how each new travel SLP job required her to begin contributing right away, and also how meeting new challenges taught her to trust in her own skills and experience.

“When I started to travel,” Kuhn recalled, “I was your average SLP. I was stuck in making the same recommendations and doing the same therapy sessions over and over. Now, I can say that I am a confident, well-rounded SLP.”

She also feels assured that SLP travel jobs can help her fellow speech-language pathologists develop as people and professionals.

Kuhn believes the most important qualifications for travel SLP jobs are a willingness to learn about the patients one serves and a desire to push one’s boundary.

“An SLP preparing for travel,” according to Kuhn, “needs to be prepared for the unknown, to be prepared to walk into a facility and, given no orientation, hit the ground running on Day One. While this may sound difficult, it will push you to learn.”

She continued: “I think you need to be prepared by having a good base of knowledge in the population and setting that you are working with, but you do not need to be an expert in your setting -- just independent and confident in yourself.”

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