Posts Tagged With: Travel PT

Joint Blog Post 3: Facility and Recruiter Red Flags

 

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In this piece, The Vagabonding DPT and HoboHealth are teaming up for the 3rd time to present to you the major red flags we look for when choosing a staffing agency or when choosing to accept a specific travel assignment. These red flags shouldn’t be treated as absolute no-no’s for taking an assignment or using specific recruiters, but they should make you pause and think, “Is this what I want in an assignment?” If you run across these red flags, your antenna should perk up and you should be asking yourself if it is the right situation for you.

Red Flags for Recruiters

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We may use recruiter and agency interchangeably. The recruiter is your main point of contact who also represents the agency. So, if you are working with a recruiter that starts checking the boxes on several of these red flags, move along. There is enough options for agencies that you shouldn’t be working for one that employs any recruiters with shady practices.

  • One of the most egregious red flags is if your recruiter ever tells you that you can only work with them and not for any other agency. “If you don’t commit to me, I can’t give you my full attention either,” is usually how this is presented. The thing is, that is EXACTLY the role of a recruiter: To give you their full attention, to work as hard as they can to find the best job for you. If a recruiter can’t find you a job, they don’t make money. A good recruiter should be going above and beyond to win you over. YOU, the therapist, are the commodity. YOU hold the power, not the recruiter.
  • When searching for a job, your recruiter should stay in touch with you often and actively search for jobs. Many agencies are passive in their job searches – they sit and wait for jobs to be posted to them through subscriptions to staffing databases. If your recruiter isn’t in touch with you often and communicative about the process of finding you a job, they may be solely relying on these databases. There are recruiters and agencies out there who will do the footwork of getting on a phone and calling around to clinics to look for jobs that match your priorities. You should feel like your recruiter wants to find you a job that meets your needs.
  • As we’ve mentioned, constant communication with your recruiter is essential for your success as a traveling therapist. An excellent recruiter will disclose all aspects of your contract including the cancellation clause.  All contracts include a cancellation clause in which the facility reserves the right to cancel your contract in the event that they hire a full-time therapist or therapist assistant to take over your position. This clause will typically give the traveling therapist either a 2 or 4-week notice prior to terminating the contract.  Many new travelers may not even know about this until their contract gets cancelled. If it isn’t obvious in the contract, ask questions of your recruiter. While having a contract cancelled isn’t extraordinarily common, it does occasionally happen and you should know what the process is in case it happens to you.
  • Some red flags may take a couple assignments with an agency to reveal themselves. If you find yourself in a situation where a company is refusing to pay referral bonuses you earned by referring colleagues, or if situations develop where previous pay is being reclaimed for questionable reasons – it’s probably time to start looking for a new agency. When things of a financial nature begin to creep up that don’t seem completely above-board, it is usually a good indicator of where the agency’s priorities are – in their own bottom-line, not the wellbeing of their travelers.

Red Flags for Facilities

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The phone interview is typically your only chance to interview a facility. These red flags below come from questions you can ask on the interview to reveal what you really want to know about a facility. The interview isn’t just your chance to convince a facility that you are right for them, it’s also your chance to learn if the clinic is right for you! Ask the right questions on your interview, search for these red flags, and you may never have a bad assignment.

  • During your interview with the facility, you must ask about productivity expectations.  Skilled Nursing Facilities are notorious for unrealistic productivity. expectations of 95%.  This means that they expect you to have direct patient care for 7 hours and 55 minutes leaving you less than 5 minutes each day for chart review, documentation, team meetings, progress notes, re-certifications, discharge summaries, etc. Home care companies can also vary wildly in their expectations, it makes a huge difference whether you are expected to see 5 or 7 patients daily and whether different types of visits (i.e. Start of Care visits that can take multiple hours) are credited on your productivity as more than one visit.
  • Ask the facility if they’re caught up on documentation.  At times, SNF’s with staffing issues may have PTAs or COTAs running the facility and have a PT or OT off-site, which means that they may be behind in clinical documentation.  If they are behind, you may be placed in a position in which they will ask you to update documentation for a time period before you were hired. This is a RED flag. Don’t ever risk your license.
  • Listen intently to the flow of your conversation with the person interviewing you. Is it curt? Do they ask you about your experience, skills, or interests? We’ve both had interviews, which were brief with little insight to the work culture and dynamic. Our patients thrive when we are immersed in a collaborative environment that supports us as clinicians. Don’t be afraid to directly ask, “what is the work culture like?”
  • If you’re interviewed by a regional director who does not work onsite, ask to speak with someone who does. If they say no or try to dodge this, then that should be a red flag.  You want to speak to someone who can attest to the daily challenges of that facility. A regional manager, who lives in a different state, will not be able to provide you a realistic picture of those challenges. You will have a direct clinical manager, this person should be available for a conversation.
  • Ask why the facility is short-staffed. Is it location? Is a therapist on sick leave or maternity leave? Have they recently expanded? It’s important to know what kind of staffing need you are filling for a couple reasons. If you would like the potential to extend your contract longer than the initial 3 months, it’s more likely to happen if the staffing need is ongoing rather than only for an employee’s temporary leave of absence. Chronic staffing needs occur for a variety of reasons. Some reasons for long-term staffing needs are completely reasonable, like being in a location far from any PT schools – these clinics often have staffing needs. Another reason that a clinic may have ongoing staffing needs is because they are, frankly, a lousy place to work. Asking more questions about the clinic’s staffing needs may help you discern between clinics with staffing needs for good reasons and clinics with staffing needs for bad reasons.
  • If you are working in a stand alone clinic, ask who the owner is. In all other situations, it’s at least practical to know who your direct supervisor is. This seems like an innocuous question until it isn’t. James once didn’t ask this question and the owner and clinic supervisor was an unlicensed Chiropractor from South Africa. Ask this question, if the answers get weird, it is worth asking more questions.
  • Find out who you’ll be working with. How many therapists and of what type? How many therapist assistants? How many other kinds of care extenders (ATCs, Massage Therapists, Techs/Aides)? An abundance of Assistants is a big red flag and a good indicator that as the therapist you will be spending more time doing evals and discharges than actually carrying out treatment. These questions can also help paint a picture in your mind of what a day in this facility looks like.

If you try to suss-out these red flags with your recruiters and during interviews, and if you are willing to walk away when the red flags stack up, you are likely to have a successful, enjoyable travel career. Failing to ask the right questions and have a meaningful dialogue on the interview can set you up for a frustrating time as a clinician and traveler. Good luck out there!

If you’re a traveling therapist and have any additional advice feel free to comment below.

James Spencer, Hobo Health, can be found on his blog at www.hobohealth.com

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Joint Blog Post 2 with HoboHealth: Having ONE Recruiter vs. MULTIPLE Recruiters

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James of HoboHealth worked in private practice before going into traveling PT and believes gaining professional experience is the right move to make before traveling. April of The Vagabonding DPT has had professional success and happiness through becoming a traveler immediately as a new grad. These two traveling Doctors of Physical Therapy from different personal and professional backgrounds have connected to provide you diverse perspectives. This is their second blog post together on a series of Travel PT topics.

 

 

Introduction:

 

HoboHealth

  • When I first started traveling, I worked with just one company, I had steady health benefits, I would accumulate PTO, and I even got a free wifi printer as a loyalty bonus. The printer was too big to travel with, but I still use it when I have it with me. The company I worked with initially has big name, and they were always able to find me a job. But, when I started looking around, I realized the deal I was getting might not be as good as I thought. Other companies were offering me as much as $200 more per week for similar jobs and seemed a lot more attentive to my needs. $200, that’s one wifi printer per week! That started me down a path of searching with multiple companies about 7 or 8 years ago.

The Vagabonding DPT:

  • I started traveling about 2 years ago as a new grad. I was fortunate to have a Travel PT mentor who set me up with my current recruiter. Yes, that’s singular. I have one recruiter. I know that the majority have multiple recruiters, but for now, having one recruiter has helped me build my career as a physical therapist. My recruiter is fully aware of my abilities, professional goals, minimum pay rate, and setting preferences. He’s submitted me for positions that I may not “qualify” for (i.e a requirement of 5+ years for a job assignment) because he was confident in my skills and that the position would be a perfect fit for me. Even as a new graduate with my first assignment, I’ve stood firm on negotiation of time off as well as pay rates. I got exactly what I wanted because I had a recruiter who was willing to negotiate those terms on my behalf.

 

What are the advantages of having one recruiter vs. multiple recruiters?

 

HoboHealth:

  • Compare pay rates between companies. It becomes clear very quickly whether what you have been making is competitive with other companies rates or not. Knowing what other companies are able to pay you in a given area can be a great negotiating tool if you do decide to stay with just one company.
  • Different companies have different jobs. You will see many of the same jobs posted across most agencies – the jobs that are the same across agencies are all listed on databases that many facilities contract with to fill their jobs. The databases sell subscriptions to the staffing agencies to have access to their jobs (the databases also charge 3-4% of the total contract price to the recruiters). To beat this system, agencies have gone out of their way to make contracts to exclusively staff particular facilities. So, it is possible that you can’t find a job in a particular area because you aren’t looking with the agency that has an exclusive contract with a facility in the area. Also, some agencies rely solely on what comes across the databases; Other companies are willing to call around for you. All recruiters will say they are willing to canvas an area for you, but less will actually do it (the smaller agencies tend to be more willing to put in the footwork of tracking down novel contracts). Broadening your agencies, may open up additional options.

The Vagabonding DPT:

  • Company Benefits: Each travel company provides different perks the more time you spend with them. The benefits listed below are solely representative of one company:
    • Paid Time Off: My company provides paid time off for 40 hours after working 2,080 hours and 1 year with them. A travel therapist would be free to cash out that PTO to fill any requested time off during an assignment or in between assignments. From that point thereinafter, you accrue some PTO for every hour you work.
    • New Grad Bonus: A new grad who works 3 consecutive contracts with this company will earn a $1,000 bonus.
    • Continuing Education Bonus: When you’ve stayed with this company, you receive $400 of continuing education credit valid also for conferences such as Combined Sections Meeting or NEXT.
  • Less Paperwork: Every company has a set of protocols that they must follow to be compliant with TJC including BLS certificate, licensing, NPI number, vaccinations, physical exams, TB tests, drug screen and physical examination. In addition, each company will have a mound of paperwork in regards to the company’s policies and procedures about expectations, benefits, clinical competency, etc. Staying with one company allows you to focus on what you need: less paperwork and more time to invest in your passions and interests.
  • Health Insurance:  If you choose to go with one company and choose to go with their health insurance, you won’t have to worry about switching health insurance companies. Travel PT companies will typically allow you a 30 day grace period in which you will be covered by the company while you’re between assignments.
  • Consistency: Some larger Travel PT companies will bounce you around with various recruiters who manage a particularly region. If this is the case, then you’ll have to take the time to get to build a relationship with a new recruiter each time you change regions.

 

Do you feel there are any disadvantages to the approach you have taken?

HoboHealth:

  • The obvious downsides to working with multiple agencies are the benefits you don’t get for being loyal to one agency and the extra paperwork you do get – as April mentioned above.
  • If you do work with multiple companies, remember this cardinal rule: “You take a particular job with whichever agency offers it to you first.” Meaning, you can’t take an assignment offered by one agency, and tell a different agency about it to try to get a higher pay rate. Things can get sticky fast.
  • It takes some management to work with multiple companies. At one time, I was searching with 6 or 7 different agencies. One job came up and they had received my resume from multiple different agencies, each claiming I was “their guy”. While I went with the first agency to present the job to me (the only agency who had permission to submit me for the assignment), another agency bullied the facility into only accepting my interview through them. I was unable to go with the agency I liked best and who had presented me the assignment first. It was embarrassing and it’s why I now limit my searches to 2 or 3 agencies. When you are working with multiple agencies, you have to be clear that you need to be contacted before being submitted to a job, otherwise you may end up in my situation with companies bickering over ownership of you with the facility – it’s a good way to blow the interview before you even have it.

The Vagabonding DPT:

  • As James mentioned above, working with one company requires much trust in one person to provide you with the best pay rate, location, and setting. By doing so, you may limit your options for future possibilities. You must trust that your recruiter is negotiating the terms of your contract to the best of his/her ability to provide you with the best overall package. To decrease this, you could also do some research and ask other Travel Therapists about their pay rate for that setting in that specific region.
  • The same facility may be working with several travel recruiting companies to fill a need. So when you work for multiple companies, you may be offered the same position via two different companies which can actually work against you. In the end, you may not end up with the assignment. 

 

Conclusion:

  • We present you with the advantages/disadvantages to assist you in making the best informed decision for your travel career path. We’ve each done our research to negotiate our contracts. Stay informed and ask around.
  • Follow us on Facebook @Hobo Health and @The Vagabonding DPT as well as follow the FB group page, Travel Therapists. Check out our websites: http://www.hobohealth.com and http://www.thevagabondingDPT.org
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Hobo Health & The Vagabonding DPT Joint Blog Post 1: Gaining Experience before Travel PT vs. Pursuing Travel PT as a New Grad

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James of HoboHealth worked in private practice before going into traveling PT and believes gaining professional experience is the right move to make before traveling.  April of The Vagabonding DPT has had professional success and happiness through becoming a traveler immediately as a new grad. These two traveling Doctors of Physical Therapy from different personal and professional backgrounds have connected to provide you diverse perspectives on travel PT.  This is their first blog post together of a series of topics.

What are the advantages of being a New Grad PT vs. being an Experienced PT then going into Travel PT?

HoboHealth:
Professional Experience – I only worked for six months between graduation and starting as a traveling PT. The brief time I worked in private practice before traveling did a lot to shape who I am as a clinician today. Getting just a little bit of experience as a clinician allowed me to become grounded in a healthy work environment before setting out into the less predictable and less stable world of traveling.

Personal Marketability – I believe the little bit of experience I had in private practice prior to traveling gave me a leg-up on other candidates looking at the same jobs. My first traveling job was (primarily) outpatient in a community hospital outside of Boston with other therapists around to help continue my mentorship and growth. Without a little experience, I don’t believe they would have taken on the risk of hiring a near-new grad. Six months in private practice, followed by 10 months at my first travel assignment with strong mentorship set me up for 10 years of positive traveling assignments. Bottomline, if you get a little experience before travel, better employment opportunities are available to you as a traveler.

Vagabonding DPT:
My life was as compact as possible.  I already had sold all my furniture and everything I owned fit into my Honda Civic. I was as mobile as I ever would be.  If there was any opportunity to travel and explore, now was my moment. I had just spent my 3rd year completing my clinical rotations in Oklahoma City, OK; Salt Lake City, UT; Springfield, MO; and Dallas, TX. I was moving about every couple of months.  In essence, my clinical internships provided me the opportunity to live the life of a travel DPT as a student.  I was used to learning at a rapid rate and had to learn to adjust to a new city and clinic every few months. Because of this, It was quite an easy transition to go from a DPT student on clinical rotations to a DPT on the road for work.

You have “less” responsibility. As one begins to settle into their career and life (in general), the natural progression is to get settled into a specific location, get married, buy a house, have children or furry kids, and/or take care of ill, elderly parents.  Although I think it is absolutely possible to travel with all the aforementioned circumstances, these factors require far more extensive benefit/cost analysis. For myself, I wasn’t married, I didn’t have a house, nor did I have children.  So I made the personal decision to take the plunge straight into travel PT for further domestic exploration and adventures!

Money
Although I believe that this shouldn’t be your primary reason for going into traveling therapy.  It definitely doesn’t hurt. Students are coming out with a tremendous amount of debt and this is definitely a great way to pay down those student loans.

What are the disadvantages of being a New Grad PT vs. being an Experienced PT then going into Travel PT?

HoboHealth:
When I first thought about this question, my gut reaction was, “There’s no disadvantage! What could be wrong with having more experience going into a job?” …but then I thought of the hardest day of my PT career – the day I had to quit my first job. The day I told my mentor and friend that I wouldn’t be able to work for him anymore was a really stressful day. Quitting a job, especially one that you like, is hard. I can see how someone with the intention to travel could go get a steady job and never end up leaving it. While I do believe strongly in getting experience before traveling, I can see how you risk getting “stuck” in a permanent job. I remember the phrase one of my professors told me to make quitting professional and simple, “It’s an opportunity I can’t pass up.” Remember that phrase, it’s a good one.

Also, the traveling lifestyle is only available to those in the right life situations to have the flexibility to take short-term contracts. Sometimes you have to strike while the iron is hot – waiting to take a permanent job, get several months of experience, and then quitting can shift you into a phase of life where the idea of travel isn’t as easy as it once was. New family obligations, meeting a significant other, and simple logistics like year-long rental leases can obstruct your path to the open road.

Vagabonding DPT:
Mentorship:
Off the bat, one’s initial thought may be the lack of mentorship.  There are some travel companies that may market mentorship opportunities.  I challenge you to ask them what exactly this looks like.  Just being in the same clinic as other physical therapists does not constitute as mentorship.  This can be countered by building an army of mentors while being a student.  Based on my interests, I’ve inadvertently built an army of specialists from Neurologic PT to Global Health to Nonprofit Leadership.

Mentorship does not have to be limited to our profession. There is something to learn from everyone.  Quite frankly, our patients become our first mentors.  If you learn to listen intently, they will lead you to the answer.  In addition, a firm understanding of other disciplines such as occupational therapy and speech & language pathology can help us maximize our role with a focus on patient-centered rehabilitative care.

Lack of Experience:
James touched upon this and it is true.  There will be some jobs that will require that you have more experience than what you have had. However, I secured my second job assignment by highlighting my strengths and experiences in that setting.  I applied for a position in inpatient rehabilitation that required 5 years of experience.  So during my phone interview, I discussed my experience.  I worked for two years as a PT aide in outpatient PT, then did an additional two years as a rehab aide prior to even applying for physical therapy. I also completed two clinical rotations in inpatient rehabilitation. I felt I was more than qualified for the position at hand.   I’m glad that the rehabilitation manager was pleased with my response as well because she essentially hired me for the position. I’ve extended my contract since then.

Being a traveler can isolate you from the typical learning and professional development paths that may be available in more traditional PT careers. What have you done or do you plan to do to continue your professional development?

HoboHealth:
Board Specialty
Shortly after completing my transitional-DPT, I soon felt ready to pursue my Orthopaedic Clinical Specialty (OCS). I spent more than a year reading every piece of ortho research I could get my hands on and reading a couple comprehensive ortho books cover-to-cover. The constant studying kept me focused on a fixed goal for quite some time. Specialties through ABPTS are available in variety of practice areas. A couple supervisors on travel assignments have told me they hired me specifically because of my board specialist certification. In total, my tDPT and OCS combined filled the first  4 years of my professional life with a structured, focused learning path.

Some universities are offering post-doctoral learning paths that culminate in sitting for (and hopefully passing) the specialist exams. My alma mater, Northeastern University, offers a Certificate of Advanced Study in Orthopedics. Essentially, you take 5 online classes focused on advanced orthopedic practice, earn college credits, and become more prepared for the OCS exam. Programs like this can help you keep a structured learning schedule that can otherwise so easily fall out of priority while working as a travel PT.

Certifications
Generally, I am skeptical of programs focused on one clinical belief system and the alphabet soup that comes along with them. Courses that all come from a single guru will help you dive deeply into a treatment strategy, but are typically lacking in variety outside of that one strategy. However, as a way to provide a structure for learning towards a final goal, they can be very useful. I currently am about to set out on earning my certification in Dry Needling. Over the next year, I have my learning laid out for me and a fixed goal to be certified in Dry Needling and Cupping by the end of 2017. There are some other great programs available that offer several courses on different topics culminating in a single certification – do be discerning, not all certs are created equal.

Vagabonding DPT:
With the constant change, rapid rate of learning, and high productive expectations expected as a Travel PT, you can get burnt out and/or apathetic as a PT.  It is pivotal that you “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”  Since graduation, I have done exactly that through social media, leadership positions, national PT conferences, and continuing education courses.

Social Media
I didn’t understand Twitter.  I didn’t get the point.  However, a few years ago, I ran for the position of APTA Student Assembly Director of Communications and thought that I should get one in the event I got elected and had to manage one. I’ll be honest.  I had no idea what I was doing.  With the Twitter mentorship of Matt Debole, PT, DPT, OCS and Stephanie Weyrauch, PT, DPT, they opened up a world of passionate students and clinicians from all over the country and the world.  I started utilizing pound signs…I mean hashtags and twitter handles in my tweets.  A few years later, I had the pleasure of engaging with these professionals virtually and in person.

If you don’t have a twitter account, get one.  The best way is to just dive in and follow a few hashtags such as #ChoosePT, #DPTstudent, #SolvePT, #FreshPT, #PTFam and/or #TravelPT, just to name a few.

Still don’t get it? Start one, follow me, then tag me @AprilFajardoPT in your first tweet! Be part of the conversation.

PT Conferences
National Conferences: Have you ever been to National Student Conclave, Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), or NEXT?  It’s how the kids say, “lit?”  Yesss, LIT!!!! Everyone comes to this conference to learn, but one of the most important aspects of these conferences is the opportunity to formulate connections.  If you’ve been active on social media, meet some of those you follow on Twitter at one of these conferences.  You get to attend a multitude of receptions based on your interests and involvement from Alumni events to Section events.  The exhibit hall is equipped with the latest physical therapy gadgets and with recruiters from every corner of the US.  The

International PT Conference: This coming year, I plan on attending the World Congress of Physical Therapy on July 2nd-4th in Capetown, South Africa.  I look forward to the opportunity to learn from and engage with physiotherapists around the world.  Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?  Well, the early registration deadline is November 30th.  Join me and check out their website at http://www.wcpt.org/congress.

Professional Leadership
I’ve been on the go as a traveler; however, I’ve stayed engaged through the pursuit of my passions in professional development, engagement, APTA membership, global health, and service.  I currently serve as The Academy of Neurologic PT’s membership and public relations committee member, an Early Career Team committee member, and the PT Day of Service’s Global Affairs Chair.  My role in all these leadership positions has been location independent.  If I can do it, you can too!  Not sure where to start?  Fill out the APTA Volunteer Interest Pool at http://www.apta.org/VolunteerGroups/ or email the APTA Executive Director of the Section you want to get involved in at http://www.apta.org/Sections/.

Continuing Education Courses
Every state has a different set of requirements for continuing education courses.  However, I’ve found that the most helpful courses have been those developed by a specific section of the APTA.  I’ve taken a continuing education course on Parkinson’s Disease developed by the Academy of the Neurologic PT.  Terry Ellis, PhD, PT, NCS of Boston University  and Lee Dibble, PhD, PT of University of Utah taught the course through the integration of the evidence and its clinical application.  So if there’s a specific topic you want to learn about, check out what courses are provided by the appropriate APTA section.

 

About Dr. James Spencer:

My wife and I been traveling Physical Therapists for 10 years working mostly in New England, Hawaii, and Alaska during the summer and living/working in Aspen, Colorado each winter. I am an Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist who is most at home in outpatient ortho, but have worked in many varied settings. I am involved in APTA leadership, particularly in the Ortho Section and with the Colorado Chapter. My wife and I intermittently live in a camper and would enjoy having a big dog someday. I normally blog about travling physical therapy on my website hobohealth.com which aims to helps new traveling therapists find their way.

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Travel Therapy 111: What to Look for in a Recruiter

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You want a recruiter who will serve as your champion.  What exactly does this mean?  This means you have a recruiter who will:

  • Listen.

    • What exactly are you looking for as a travel therapist?  Are you looking for mentorship? Are you looking for adventure?  Are you looking for experience in a specific setting ?  Are you feeling out different parts of the country for a place to call home?
    • What are your priorities in securing an assignment? Location? Setting? Corporation? Private Practice? Rural? Urban?
    • Whatever your needs are, just make sure that your recruiter is listening.  Is he or she suggesting assignments that have nothing to do with what you want?

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  • Lay out ALL the expectations including the fine print. 

    • The “Release Clause”: Depending on our contract, you will have a clause that states the facility can release you from the contract in the event that they find a permanent employee to fill the position.  This “release clause” varies anywhere from two-to-four weeks. That means that they have to give you a two or four week notice (dependent on your contract) prior to releasing you from the contract.
    • The required minimum number of hours: How many hours are you expected to work?  If you fail to meet those number of hours, is your board/lodging rate prorated?  Do you get penalized by not getting the full board/lodging stipend and just get your hourly rate?
    • It’s pivotal that you understand all the fine print. You don’t want any surprises when taking on this assignment.

Reading the Fine Print

  • Go above-and-beyond.

    • This kind of goes back to listening.  For my first assignment as a new graduate, I was looking for a facility in Texas that was close to a major airport.  Originally, I wanted to be in or around the three major cities: Austin, Dallas, or San Antonio.  You see, my college roommate was getting married and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding.  I didn’t want to spend 4 hours driving to an airport to fly out to Los Angeles just for the weekend for this wedding.  I realized that I ultimately just really needed to be close to an airport.  So my recruiter looked into this assignment around Abilene, TX.  It wasn’t in my list of ideal locations, but it was close to an airport.  Before looking into the assignment, my recruiter sent me a list of ALL possible itineraries in and out of that airport to determine if the cost was within my budget and if the availability of flights were within my time frame. I was impressed and he hasn’t failed to demonstrate his commitment to providing the best Travel PT experience for me yet.

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Travel Therapy 110: Finding Recruiters

I’ve talked with several students interested in pursuing traveling physical therapy and they have asked me which company is best.  Truth be told, I advocate more for finding the right recruiter versus the right company.  One of my friends, Ademola Giwa, PT, DPT, wrote an article as well on this topic: New Grad PT’s Blog: Intro to Traveling Physical Therapy.

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Finding the PERFECT recruiter for you is the most important component in determining your traveling therapy career. This seemingly small decision can make or break your experience. You need a champion. One who will be by your side to fight for what you want and deserve. Where do you start to look?

1. Referral from a Current Traveling Therapist:

  • Utilize your personal connections:
    • This is how I personally found my recruiter.  I asked a friend who had been traveling for 5 years to set me up with a recruiter who would be a great fit for me. My friend knew me well enough to give me the perfect recommendation and after an initial phone interview with him, I knew he’d be perfect!
  • Utilize Social Media:
    • I am currently part of several Facebook groups including Travel Therapists, Doctors of Physical Therapy Students, Physical Therapists, and Doctors of Physical Therapy: New Grads in the Real World. I’ve seen some post questions about recommendations for finding a recruiter. So for these groups, you can find conversation threads about recruiters by using the search engine within the FB group. (You can access this search engine on the top right side of the group page.)
  • Ask Me:
    • If you e-mail me at TheVagabondingDPT@gmail.com, I would be more than happy to share my recruiter’s information with you.
  • Disclaimer:
    • If you choose to go the referral route, know that there is typically a referral bonus for the person who sets you up with the recruiter.

2. Attend a PT Program Career Fair or a State/National Therapy Conference:

  • Recruiters are swarming at these type of events. Typically, they’ll have recruiters and if you’re really lucky, they’ll also have current traveling therapists to share their experience.
  • In this day and age of technology, we’ve lost the art of meeting face-to-face. Events such as these, will give you an opportunity to get a feel for the recruiter and the company.  Look him/her in the eye, give a firm handshake (No floppy fish hands, please!) , and have your questions ready.

3. Utilize the web to find traveling therapy websites.

  • If you put “travel therapy companies” in any website’s search engine, a number of travel companies will come up.  You can conduct your own research and see what they have available.*
  • Although this is a feasible option, this is probably my least favorite avenue for finding a recruiter because it takes away from that personal connection.  However, it can help give you pertinent information quickly.  For instance, if you’re looking for an assignment in a very specific location then this would be a great way to find that information.

Call me old school, but I prefer finding someone via a referral or face-to-face. With referrals, I have a first hand account about the quality of the traveling therapy experience.  With meeting recruiters face-to-face, it affords me the opportunity to know what motivates and drive them to pursue their job as well as their pursuits outside of their career.

* I understand that this is super vague; however, I don’t want to endorse any specific companies and demonstrate bias. However, if you’re really interested in learning about my recruiter, feel free to contact me.

**Beware that if you choose to give your information to a plethora of recruiters prior to researching them, you may get bombarded by email or phone calls.

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TT 100: The Traveling Therapy (TT) Process of Securing an Assignment

Not sure what to expect?  Neither did I.  I was fortunate enough to have a great mentor to help me through the process.

checklist

Based on my experience, here’s a general outline of the Traveling Therapy Process:

  1. Find recruiters.
  2. Interview recruiters.
  3. Recruiter creates a portfolio based on your preferences.
  4. Recruiter discusses assignment options based on your given parameters including location, setting, mentorship, and pay rate.
  5. If you’re interested in a particular assignment, your recruiter submits your portfolio to the facility of your choice.
  6. If the facility is interested in pursuing you, they’ll discuss and set up a phone interview for you with your recruiter.
  7. You’ll have a phone interview with the facility. They’ll inform your recruiter if they’re interested in moving forward or if they don’t think it’ll be a good fit.  At the same time, you’ll decide if you’re interested in pursuing that assignment.
  8. If you both agree, then your recruiter will begin to draft your contract for that assignment. This would be the best time to negotiate terms of the contract and then sign the contract. At this point, make sure that your recruiter has worked out the details including any of your requested time off, the number of guaranteed hours, cost for travel expenses, license reimbursement, pay for orientation or online training, number of hours guaranteed in contract, and the clause that releases you from a contract should the facility find a full-time therapist.
  9. Find housing.
  10. Start traveling to the site.
  11. Explore and make new friends!

I’ll go into each of these steps in more detail with an individual blogpost on each step. Stay Tuned!

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