Top 5 Tips to Plan Your SLP Travel Assignment
By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor
Becoming a traveling speech-language pathologist (SLP) is an exciting career move, filled with plenty of opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Whether you are a first-time traveler or you already have some assignments under your belt, the staff at Med Travelers offers the following tips to streamline the placement process and help you achieve your goals.
Find SLP travel assignments across the U.S.
5 tips to planning a successful SLP assignment:
1. Make a “must-have” list
The first tip for successful planning is to determine what your “must haves” are versus your “nice to haves.” This includes virtually all aspects of your assignment criteria—including locations, traveling companions (people or pets), accommodations, specialty area, type of practice setting, and more.
For example, if you only want assignments on the East Coast in order to stay near your children or other relatives, it is critical that you make that known to your recruiter up front. Making a list of your non-negotiables or “deal-breakers” will ensure that your next SLP assignment starts off on the right foot. It also gives your recruiter and staffing agency the best chance of matching you with the right SLP contract.
2. Do your research
When it comes to finding an SLP staffing agency to work with, don’t skip your due diligence. Talk to other speech-language pathologists who have traveled, or read some online reviews; this will help you get an insider's view of the process and the agency. Connecting with a recruiter who you feel comfortable with is also key, since this person will be your guide throughout the entire placement process.
You’ll want to ensure that the agency you pick will have ample contracts at facilities or school districts in a variety of locations, and your recruiter knows where your skills are most needed. SLP travel assignments can be found in rural, urban or suburban settings. Once a potential employer or location is suggested, you’ll also want to research their specific details so you can make an informed decision.
3. Prepare your documents
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require speech pathologists to be licensed in order to practice their specialty, and each state has their own process and licensing authority. Healthcare staffing agencies like Med Travelers can guide you through the licensing process and help you obtain a new state license, if needed, for your travel assignment. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has an excellent state resource page that has licensing and contact information.
In addition to state licenses, traveling SLPs should also be prepared with other documentation such as immunization records, certifications and continuing education requirements.
4. Keep an open mind and stay flexible
As important as it is to determine your “must haves,” it’s equally important to stay flexible about other aspects of a potential travel assignment. If your criteria is too stringent or you have your heart set on one specific facility or city, you may be disappointed.
Be open to your recruiter’s suggestions, and consider each SLP job with an open mind. If your recruiter has an opportunity in a state or setting you never thought about working in -- why not give it a shot? You never know what you might discover, how much you’ll learn or who you might meet. Of course, keep your list of preferred locations, and chances are an assignment can work out there down the road.
5. Plan time for fun!
Taking a travel assignment as a SLP is all about helping patients in different places, growing your skill-set and opening yourself up to new experiences and adventures. There are few other careers that allow you to explore the country, earn excellent compensation and help others at the same time!
But your assignment can go quickly, so you’ll want to do some advance planning in order to take full advantage of this unparalleled opportunity.
Plan some fun day trips or a weekend vacation for your days off, reconnect with old friends or colleagues who live in the area, or schedule some time off in between assignments to take that road trip you’ve been dreaming about. The options are almost endless!
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What kind of SLP travel job is right for you?Take Med Traveler’s short quiz to find out!
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