You’ve followed the sound advice of Mom and Dad and your school counselors. You’ve successfully completed high school and immediately started college where you’ve performed well so far. You’re still undecided about your major. Health care careers look attractive for many reasons; they’re lucrative, interesting, and you can make a difference and help save lives. But, you’d sure love to take some time off and see the world. You’ve always enjoyed travel; wanderlust is in your blood. How can you possibly afford to travel while earning a decent living?
Accepting a traveling job in health care can be a smart career move.
It’s likely that your grandparents, if they’ve not yet retired in Florida, Arizona, or Southern California, spent all of Grandpa’s working years living in the same geographical area. But, today’s world is very mobile and more people graduate college and relocate because of a job, or select an area where they’d like to live and then seek employment there. Graduates choose various locations because of climate, recreation, entertainment, and finding like-minded people, for example. Perhaps you know where you don’t want to live, but haven’t figured out where you do want to live. Many new graduates struggle with this decision; there’s even websites designed to help find your ideal geographical spot.
If you’ve chosen a health care career and don’t know where you want to settle, consider yourself lucky. Travelling jobs in health care are plentiful, and even if you don’t have a commitment phobia, the idea of short term placements in different settings looks impressive on a resume and helps you gain perspective. What a fantastic way to live and work in diverse parts of the country or the world, while gaining valuable job experience and earning a substantial income with ample benefits. You may be working approximately forty hours weekly, but you’ll have leisure time to interface with local people and enjoy what each setting offers.
Travelling job opportunities exist for a variety of health care providers.
There are numerous opportunities for nurses who want travel jobs. Emergency, critical care, intensive care, maternity and many other hospital departments and nursing homes appreciate employing mobile healthcare professionals to cover maternity leaves, unexpected heavy caseloads, and other times when they need only short term coverage. Medical technicians, radiology, respiratory and surgical techs are always in high demand in hospitals and enjoy travelling positions. Physical (PT) and occupational therapists (OT) and speech and language pathologists (SLP) are utilized in rehabilitation and skilled care settings and sometimes in schools.
Length and location varies amongst travelling health care employers.
Each travel health care employer is different so you’ll want to check their websites and make a list of questions before you call their toll-free number. Some placements may be as short as one week, but you’ll find most to be three months or longer. Placements vary by country, region such as the Northwest, or state, by rural or urban and other preferences that you can request.
Imagine being a travelling physical therapist earning $70,000 annually plus substantial benefits. As a temp, you may be placed in a rehabilitation center in Burlington, Vermont in the autumn where you can take long weekend drives and enjoy the glorious colors. Winter comes along and your new placement takes you to a small hospital in Honolulu where your apartment, provided by your employer, has a beautiful ocean-side view. In the spring, you work in a nursing home in Boulder, Colorado; skiing consumes much of your leisure time. Your summer assignment in Upper Peninsula, Michigan in a pediatric unit gives you sufficient time for boating, fishing, and sightseeing.
Being a medical temp provides you with generous benefits.
Health care professionals who’ve had travelling jobs express very high job satisfaction. Expect a salary that’s competitive with any traditional job setting in your chosen medical career. Additionally, the benefits package includes the same perks you‘d expect in any medical setting, plus much more. You’ll need to become licensed in any state where you’ll work; your employer will reimburse you 100% for the license. You‘ll also have comfortable housing or a housing allowance; sometimes a vehicle is included. Plan to receive funds for continuing education to earn continuing education units (CEU). And, if you refer a colleague or friend to the travelling health care company, you’ll be paid a handsome referral bonus; more referrals get you more bonuses.
How do you get on board for a career as a travelling health care provider?
An Internet search is the best way to view the array of travelling health care employers in your specific profession. Contact several that look like a good fit for you and tell them what you’re looking for. In short time, you may find yourself happily employed at your dream location.
Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L
registered occupational therapist