Travel Job Myths: PT OT SLP RRT Ultrasound Explained

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I cannot begin to tell you how many phone calls I receive in a week and I hear, “But I thought this…”, “I was told that…” My personal favorite… “Are you sure?

Yes, I am sure.

I cannot speak for other travel therapy companies other than saying if you try and research this subject it seems that most everyone parrots the exact same words and no one really takes the time to explain the why. So I’m going to debunk some common allied travel myths and explain in a non-scientific way. This covers all healthcare travel jobs, not just PT, OT and SLP. This includes RRT, ultrasound (sonography), MRI and CT techs to name a few.

Travel Therapy Myth #1

Travel jobs do not pay well.

Truth: Travel jobs pay exceptionally well.

Here is the reasoning behind this:  Travel therapists, etc are paid well because they are filling an urgent need. The reason a facility is looking for a travel professional is because they can not find someone locally. Travelers are then paid a premium to travel to the facility and commit to at least 3 months (13 weeks). Additionally, they are expected to come to the facility and hit the ground running with minimal training and/or orientation. In other words, the facility is looking for a short-term purple squirrel. To give a specific amount or percentage on compensation is incredibly difficult because every situation, location and need is different. What I can tell you is that the majority of professionals that get involved in travel work make considerably more than a staff healthcare professional.

Travel Therapy Myth #2

New graduates are not good candidates for travel work.

Truth: New graduates are great candidates for travel positions.

I have placed many new graduates over the years in travel positions. Many of them have lasted a very long time at those positions too. In truth, many facilities require a certain amount of experience for travel work. Saying that, there are many facilities that are open to new graduates and have other staff on hand that can help them out and “show them the ropes”. Saying this, when interviewing for a travel position, as a new graduate, you want to ask if there is other staff in the department.

My niece is studying to become a physical therapist and I told her the following:

“Not only are you able to travel the country on someone else’s dime, you have the ability to tryout different settings without burning any bridges. There is a great difference in settings from your clinicals to having a productivity expectation. You may find you live certain settings and you may find some settings are not for you. Travel work is a great way to find that out and gain valuable experience.”

Travel Therapy Myth #3

Travel companies make me sign a contract that only allows me to work with them.

Truth: Mixed.

Personally, I think this is a small portion of allied healthcare agencies. Saying that, it’s important to identify this immediately so you do not waste time with someone you do not want to be stuck with.  There are some allied healthcare agencies that require you to sign up with them for a calendar year, regardless if they place you in a position or not. I have not experienced or seen this personally, but enough travelers have come to me asking me about this or if I have heard of xyz company doing this. Most travel companies only require you to complete the contracted job you signed up for. After you complete the contract, you can do whatever you want and you don’t have to wait for the contract to end before you start looking for your next contract either.

It’s my opinion to question any company that does this. How skilled could a company be if they have to contractually limit you to only them? Are they that bad? That is the truth of it. Most companies do not have this and although I’m not sure how this could be legally enforced, I’m not a lawyer and this would be a company to steer away from.

Travel Therapy Myth #4

Too many travel jobs on my resume looks bad. I’m job hopping.

Truth: Absolutely 110% false.

Travel jobs are not a secret. Travel therapy companies, recruiting agencies, allied recruiters are well known in the healthcare spectrum. Hospitals, facilities, clinics are all familiar with what travel work is, what travelers do, etc. Remember, they are giving us jobs the fill!

Taking this one step farther, participating in travel work will give you an edge on your resume. You will have opportunities to work types of facilities you may not have had an opportunity to work in the past. Facilities like trauma centers, school/teaching facilities etc. Hiring managers always try to hire travelers permanently all the time. They know the varieties in different situations they work, the adaptability an allied professional has to have and their collective experience is highly valuable. In short having travel experience on your resume adds to your value as an employee.

Travel Therapy Myth #5

Travel jobs are temporary.

Therefore, no benefits.

Truth: False.

Benefits such as health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, 401k, PTO, long-term/short-term disability, continuing education reimbursement, travel reimbursement and license reimbursement are benefits you can obtain from working a travel contract. Additionally, some travel agencies do not have a waiting period to obtain benefits. When speaking with a travel recruiter, discuss benefits, as not all agencies will be the same.

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