Kate's note: The following blog was sent to me by my traveling Occupational Therapist, Rose. She is not receiving additional compensation for sharing her opinions, and Reflectx has not edited her contribution. Here is her story:
Welcome! My name is Rose, and I’m currently working on my second assignment as an occupational therapist with Reflectx. I’m excited by the opportunity to blog about my experiences as a traveling therapist, and I’m going to start at square one: Making the momentous decision to travel.
I’d like you to imagine that you and I just met, and we’ve decided to meet up for drinks and talk about the adventurous world of travel therapy. This is a completely plausible scenario, because most travelers or would-be travelers find it thrilling to be able to connect with others in this area of practice. So, you and I are sipping wine (or coffee or handcrafted root beer or protein shakes- go ahead and pick your favorite drink- I’ll have what you’re having). You are telling me about why you want to travel. I’m guessing that some of your reasons are the same as mine. You have an intense desire to see the rest of the country, and there’s no time like the present. You’ve grown a little too comfortable with your current routine, and you’re ready for some new challenges. You realize that short-term assignments in different locations around the country will enable you to experience much more than guidebook recommendations- without the financial burden of trying to cram everything into one short vacation.
In my experiences thus far, traveling has more than fulfilled these desires. I think it’s ironic that it took my husband and me several years to finally decide to pack up our belongings and hit the road with our dog, because about twenty minutes into our journey to the West coast, we realized how simple the process really is. Seriously. It seemed complicated when we were packing and I was going through my first round of interviews for travel jobs. Looking back, there are really only three steps to getting started:
1. Find a staffing company (I absolutely love traveling with Reflectx and have been 100% satisfied, but look around, gather information, and make the best choice for yourself). Tell them where you want to go, and they do the rest.
2. Get rid of what you don’t need to keep. Pack up the things you want to keep but don’t need on the road, and throw whatever’s left in the trunk of the car.
3. Start driving (preferably, with some idea of the sightseeing you would like to do along the way as well as where you plan to sleep).
If not, please keep reading!
Now, I should mention that my husband and I are not homeowners, and that does simplify the whole process immensely. I should also mention that part of my decision to work for Reflectx was because they arranged our housing, provided housewares, and reimbursed us for mileage and my licensure expenses. There are some travelers who like to find their own housing (Reflectx also gives you this option) to maximize their income, but I’m the sort of traveler who prefers to spend the maximum amount of time and energy on exploring parks and bizarre roadside attractions while someone else handles the details. I think it’s more fun that way, but it’s important to consider what’s best for you.
Okay, so let’s get back to our drinks. We’ve been hanging out, talking for awhile now. You’ve told me what you hope to accomplish as a traveler, and I’ve told you how I started traveling. So far, though, I’ve just given you the same spiel that I give anyone who asks me about traveling. If I have given you any advice, it is advice you already knew. You know how to do an internet search for staffing companies and compare benefits. You know how to pack a suitcase. You (hopefully!) know how to read a map or listen to your GPS.
Since we’re becoming friends (when you travel, you learn to make friends really quickly), I’m going to tell you a more personal side of my story. I am going to share the ways that traveling has already changed me in four short months.
First of all, I believe in myself as a therapist now. That sounds silly, even to me, because before I traveled, I worked as director of occupational therapy at my facility, and I was confident establishing treatment plans and working as part of a multidisciplinary team. I thought of myself as a positive, knowledgeable, and compassionate therapist. But here’s the catch: my image of myself as a therapist only existed within that one environment. I had been working with the same company since I graduated college, and (outside of fieldwork) I had never had the opportunity to see myself excel in a different practice setting. And because I didn’t have the experience, I didn’t really believe in myself.
Of course, I did not realize that when I started traveling. Driving across the country, I optimistically thought about having a great first day at my new job and all the wonderful ideas I could share with my colleagues and patients. Imagine my surprise when my first two days turned out to be the roughest of my career! I had never seen electronic documentation in my life, I was shocked by how hard it was to learn everyone’s faces and names, and no matter how encouraging I would try to be, none of the names on my caseload belonged to people who actually wanted to work with me. On my second day, I called my Reflectx recruiter, Kate, close to tears. She listened to me and encouraged me to try to keep going for two weeks. That turned out to be very good advice, because within two weeks time, I found that I was beginning to love my job. As therapists, one of the things that we love in life is overcoming obstacles. Traveling definitely comes with its own set of obstacles, but it also comes with an environment in which you can learn quickly and watch your confidence grow exponentially. For that reason, I feel rather fortunate to be traveling, because I know that the experience is transforming me into a stronger and more flexible therapist. I also think that traveling would be a great way to start out as a new grad, because you start gaining that confidence immediately in your career.
To share an even more personal side of my story, I have to acknowledge the ways that traveling has affected our marriage. First of all, I should explain that my husband is not in the healthcare profession. He’s devoting his time to writing his first novel while I complete my therapy assignments. I really enjoy the routine that we’ve established, and it’s nice that we’re engaged in separate occupations, because we experience new towns from our own individual points of view. That allows us to share what we learn with each other from our own unique perspectives.
Beyond the day-to-day routine, though, traveling will throw some new elements into your marriage. For example, when you travel, your environment changes, your social activities change, your coworkers change, and new friends enter your life. This can be very exhilarating at times, but it can also feel overwhelming. I initially thought that traveling with my husband would ground me. Having him by my side would be (as unromantic as this sounds) a means of resisting too much change in my life. But that’s not quite how it works. Traveling will throw you into the waves of change together, and even as you stick through it, always supporting each other and always in love, you have the opportunity to see yourselves change simultaneously. This means that there are moments in life that feel foreign, and you find yourself having to adjust to the unexpected. More often than not, it also feels like a tremendous blessing, because everyday turns into an opportunity to grow together.
Rose and her husband on assignment
Because we’ve found ourselves in this state of change, all the plans that felt “mandatory” in our marriage before we started traveling (for example, buying a house, following a certain path in our careers, or having children by a certain time) are no longer set in stone. We’ve realized that we have all the options in the world, and as long as we are patient and listen to each other, it’s okay to let go and let life surprise us. Being able to embrace that state-of-mind is, for me at least, one of the greatest benefits of being a traveler.
I hope you feel that you’ve had the chance to get to know me a little, even if “going out for drinks” was just an imaginary premise in order to introduce myself. Perhaps you are wondering why I want to share so much of my story with people I haven’t even met, over the internet. Honestly, I’m writing this blog, because traveling was a huge decision for me; one that took me years to make. And it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s been such a wonderful experience so far, and I’m very excited to encourage other people to start out on a similar adventure. Whether or not you decide to travel, I wish you all the best in your career- and I hope you’re having as much fun as I am! Cheers!
If you're interested in a travel position with Reflectx and experience a whole new world and life like Rose has, please call Kate Brown
, National Recruitment Manager at (866) 915-6737
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd like to apply online and have an NRM call you, please click here