Out of the 51 countries I have been to, I can hands-down say that the United States has the most amazing and contrasting scenery. Oh if I was a little bit younger again and could have squeezed being a traveling therapist into my journeys, I wonder what mountain peak I could have climbed…Luckily I can live through Julia Kuhn from The Traveling Traveler website. Now she doesn’t need to convince me, so go ahead… read on!
Are you a clinician with a sense of adventure that loves to travel? Are you always planning your next trip or seeking new places to explore? Maybe you should consider a career as a travel therapist. “Travel Therapist” is a term used to describe clinicians who work short-term, locum positions in different locations across the United States. The assignments are usually 3 to 9 months in length and could be in any setting from a school to a hospital or outpatient clinic. Travel therapy appeals to clinicians for different reasons. As a traveling therapist since 2010 I have traveled from east to west coast (Hawaii too!) and have endless reasons why I began and continue to travel. Here are my top 5 reasons to be a travel therapist:
Exposure to new work environments
Being a traveling therapist is a great way to experience new work environments. Maybe you love the excitement of working in a fast-paced acute care hospital but also enjoy the more relaxed speed of working in a long-term care facility. Maybe you want to work with both the pediatric and adult populations. Working as a traveling therapist allows you to balance different work settings and experience new facilities.
Most travel contracts are three months in length. This is a perfect amount of time to work a job without getting involved in office politics or the drama of a full-time position. I work with a lot of colleagues who have expressed burnout and frustration in their current work environments. Being a traveler has allowed me to come into a building and focus on seeing my caseload and patients without dealing with other issues that may come up in the workplace.
Change of environment, new patients and new colleagues can enrich your clinical education in ways that you cannot do at one position. As a traveler, you learn through experience and will encounter challenging patients and different therapy techniques that you could not obtain by working in the same facility. I have learned endless therapy techniques from fellow colleagues and am grateful for the knowledge that I have learned over the course of my travels.
Flexibility is a major perk of being a traveling therapist. You are in control of where you go and when. If you have a large network across the county you can arrange your work assignments to be close to different family members or friends. You can choose to go to the beach or the ski slopes in the winter. Spend the fall in New England and the spring in California. You can also choose to take extended break periods in between assignments. Last year I took off two months between assignments to travel to Central America where I took Spanish language classes.
Last but not least: travel! There is a vast world to explore and the standard 2-3 weeks of paid time off a year can make it impossible to cover all the places on your bucket list. Being a traveling therapist allows you the chance to travel to new locations for work and explore on your down time. Whether it is a mountain you want to hike, beach you want to sit on or city to explore, being a traveling therapist can take you to the places that you long to explore.
Julia Kuhn, MS CCC-SLP is a United States based speech language pathologist. She specializes in working travel assignments in adult neurogenic rehabilitation. She blogs her experiences and resources for other travelers at The Traveling Traveler and administers the Travel Therapists forum on Facebook.