Posts Tagged With: TravelPT

 
 

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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Travel Therapy 111: What to Look for in a Recruiter

Group Celebration

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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New Grad Traveling Therapy: Is Traveling Therapy (TT) for you?

I took my boards early, passed, then graduated.

DPT graduation

DPT Graduation

With a blink of an eye, I went from graduate student to officially unemployed. Ahhhhhhhh!!!! What do I do next?  It seemed like the possibilities were endless and I wanted to do them all.  I downloaded the Linked-in Jobs app and was hoping to find something that would jump out at me.  Where do I even start?  Should I apply for a Neuro Residency?  Should I work full-time or PRN? Should I live in TX or transfer my license to CA or go into traveling? Should I do this or should I do that? I’m not going to lie: I was overwhelmed.

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I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself to others, but my classmates secured jobs and they didn’t even take the boards yet. I took boards, passed, and had no idea what I was going to do. What if I made the wrong decision? These thoughts hit me like a wall and I froze. I couldn’t and didn’t make a move in any direction.

The day after graduation I sat with my professor, Dr. Beverly McNeal, and she told me exactly what I needed to hear:

“The beauty of our profession is that you can go down one path and if it doesn’t work out, you’ll know and then you can try something else.  None of this is permanent.”

Woah!!!  I mean I knew that, but those words finally sank in and had meaning.  I finally had clarity and vision. I was going to pursue traveling therapy (TT) to allow me the flexibility to serve on international service learning trips and explore the world at my own leisure.  I made a decision and didn’t look back. And I’m L-O-V-I-N-G it!

Don’t get me wrong. TT is not designed for everyone and not everyone is designed for travel therapy.  Ask yourself the following questions to determine where you stand. A self-assessment is necessary before you decide to jump in.  If you’re only after the money, then you may want to check yourself.

Check yourself # 1:  What’s your learning style?

  • Do you learn best from observation or from trial-and-error?
    • It’s no surprise that you may find that those who enjoy TT are the ones who like to dive right in.  With TT, companies are paying you top dollar to fill a void. So they expect results. They’re looking for someone who will maximize their profit for their facility AKA productivity.
  • When you were on clinical rotations, how did you learn?
    • Did you find yourself struggling to learn the new documentation system while treating patients? Were you overwhelmed? If so, then I’d reconsider TT.
    • You will be expected to document, evaluate, treat, and discharge on your first couple of days with minimal orientation. It’s reality.

Check yourself # 2: How do you deal with stress?

  • Do you crack under pressure or do you rise to the occasion?
    • This relates to the information above. The turnaround between orientation and managing a full caseload is quick. Did you blink? Yeah, it’s that fast. Does that thought give you heart palpitations or does it get you excited?
    • Skilled Nursing Facilities have the highest productivity rates and expect 90% to 95%. Did that make your heart stop? Then let’s rethink this. If not, then go ahead and proceed.
      • The majority of Travel Therapy contracts are based on SNF; however, there are opportunities in other settings including home health, acute, outpatient, and inpatient rehab.  I’ve been extremely fortunate to extend my contract in IP Rehab.

Check yourself # 3: How do you deal with CHANGE?

  • Do you think of living in a new place as a new adventure and seek for opportunities to meet new people?  Or are you a homebody? If you demonstrate either of the above characteristics, then traveling therapy may be perfect for you.  You’ll live in a new home away from anything and everything you’ve ever known.
  • It’s important to identify and cater to your social and emotional needs. If you’re an introvert then you’ll have plenty of time to reboot in the solitude of living in a new and unfamiliar place. If you’re an extrovert, you’ll seek opportunities to meet people no matter where you go.
  • If you’ve never left home and have only lived close to home with familiar people and places, then I would find a placement closer to family/friends to help comfort you during this transition period.
  • If you’ve only moved to a new city for college or graduate school that’s completely different.  You experience the rigors of a DPT/PTA program together through presentations, projects, case studies, exams, and practicals.  It’s kind of like hazing and only your classmates will truly understand your PT problem struggles.  Through your experiences, you develop a support system. Depending on the work culture, your co-workers may or may not be interested in hanging out outside of work.

I’m an advocate for doing whatever is best for you. Travel therapy isn’t for everyone.  Like any experience, it can be what you want it to be.  You must have a recruiter that will listen and be your champion.  Some recruiters may throw you into any position to fill a void even if it is nothing that you want.

Still thinking about working as a Traveling PT? Perfect! Stay tuned for my next blogpost on the general outline for the process of Travel PT.

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What is a Vagabonding DPT?

According to the Mirriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a vagabond is defined as “a person who wanders from place to place without a home” and a DPT is a Doctor of Physical Therapy.  Although this simplified definition implies a wanderer who lacks direction, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s dissect and debunk this definition.

Myth One: Vagabonding DPTs have no home. . Home is where I celebrate milestones and holidays with loved ones.  No matter how far I’ve traveled, home is where my family resides: San Bruno, CA. This suburb is perfectly situated by the ocean and just south of that beautiful city by the bay, San Francisco.  It’s where I learned how to fly a kite despite the fog.  It’s where I learned to drive and navigate through one-way streets and parallel park on hills.  It’s where the only season that exists is spring. The Bay Area is where family and friends from near and far come to visit to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Lombard Street, Chinatown, Palace of Fine Arts, Muir Woods, Napa Valley, Monterey Bay, and Fisherman’s Wharf.  I am incredibly blessed to call the Bay Area, my home.

Myth Two: Vagabonding DPTs are jobless. I am a traveling physical therapist, which means I work with my recruiter to secure short-term contracts.  I always have the option to schedule contracts back-to-back or extend my contracts pending my availability.  I also have the flexibility to take time off at my own discretion.  With the higher pay rate of traveling physical therapists, I can also save money for the time between my contracts to pursue my passion for travel and service. It’s seriously a millenial’s dream come true!

Myth Three: Vagabonding DPTs are wanderers, lacking direction.  Some choose to say wandering, I prefer to say that I’m on a constant journey of exploration and self-discovery.  I am an advocate for unorthodox approaches to employment.  I choose to create experiences that force me out of my comfort zone.  This could be working at a SNF in a small town in Texas with a population of 1,200 residents or co-treating for a week with a Physical Therapist in Peru without an interpreter.  Yes, these stories are true.  With each opportunity, I learned, I made memories, and strengthened relationships.  This embodies the very definition of a Vagabonding DPT.   “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”

A Vagabonding DPT is a doctor of physical therapy who is in constant pursuit of learning and manifests the ultimate raw human experience. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more powerful than a smile, a helping hand, and an open heart.

From this blog, you will gain insight into:

  1. Traveling therapy from a new grad’s perspective
  2. International service learning trips,
  3. Global travel for leisure

Embrace the life of a Vagabonding DPT.  Subscribe today and be part of the movement!

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