Saturday, February 19, 2011

Answered Travel Questions

So I was looking through different posts I've made on this blog, and saw that I've been asked a couple times about travel therapy, pros/cons, etc.

How to look for a good travel company (in my opinion!):
There are multiple websites you can post your resume to find job prospects. I think I posted mine on, which is linked with AOTA, but there may have been a couple others as well.

Then expect a lot of calls from recruiters. The day after, I had over 50 voicemail. Everyone has their own agenda, so if you feel uncomfortable with anything they say, don't do it. I had many calls saying they had some physical therapy or speech therapy jobs and they had my resume right in front of them. Sorry, if you don't even read the big letters saying Occupational Therapist under my name, not sure the chat is worth my time.

Make sure they have your best interest in mind. Some companies have sketchy insurance for the employees -- one of my co-workers that travels just had 3 months without it!! Other companies want you to sign a year or two contract with them. DON'T do it. Good travel companies have you sign contract to contract. I've known people that signed into a year contract and ended up hating the company, then they are stuck.

Some companies make you do most of the work and have you pay for it as well. If you like to do it, go for it, but the company I work for is super supportive and help through the processes. They have paid for almost all of my licenses in various states and assist with anything needed. Let's say I want to apply for a license......they overnight me an application with the check and requirements needed, as well as a prepaid envelope to that state's board. Easy as cake!

Also, look at their websites before you commit. Some have jobs only in a certain area of the states, some have them everywhere. Ask the recruiter if you find a job on another site, if they will be able to get you that job. Some can and some can't. Some travel companies are able to get more or different jobs because they have contracts with certain medical companies which allows them more options, while other travel companies just don't have the variety.

One of the things that helped me decide was their persistence, as well as their personality. If you don't get along with them or they clash with your personality, ask for a different person from that company or search for another one. There are plenty of recruiters out there. It seems that there is a pretty high turnover rate with their positions as well, so just expect that.

Once you narrow down the company you'd like to go with and the state you'd like to pursue, you'll likely start the licensing and interviewing process:
Your company should help you get your license (most of that is above), and then they have people that call possible employers to see if they would be interested in you. If they are, an interview time is scheduled with you. All of mine have been phone interviews ranging from 15-45 minutes. If it's during the work day, all of my travel employers have been great at letting me take an extra hour or so during that day to interview, and then making that hour up a different time in the week. They give you a call and interview you. It's shorter than a typical face-to-face interview with much less pressure. Mainly, you have to have a decent personality and care about your patients. I have certain questions that I ask, depending on the facility, but always be ready with at least a few questions. Some have just been them describing the facility, asking me if I feel comfortable, and then saying, any questions?? It seems to easy, but make sure to ask as many questions as you need. And try to research their company before the's easy, Google them!

Here are some questions I ask:
*What does a typical day look like?
*How will I do documentation? (Written or electronic)
*What do you expect productivity to be? (Some companies expect a 90-100+% productivity- which means that percent of the day you spend face to face with patients. I don't agree with these numbers, most are rehab companies, where you see 3 or more people at a time so they get more money and the patients get less one on one time. Sometimes I like having 2 or 3 people doing exercises together, but if that's always expected, you never get to really see their ADLs or give them the quality of care they deserve. Some people would disagree with me, but that's where I stand with it.)
*What are some of your most common diagnoses there? (Be prepared to work with them)
*How long are treatment sessions? (If they say 15 minutes, it's most likely not patient centered. Make sure the answer is something like, 'Whatever or as much as the patient can tolerate.')
*How long is the typical stay? (If it's inpatient)
*Ask about COTA/OT interaction. (For example, in some states, a COTA can see a patient after the eval for the entire process, in others, and OT needs to see the patient every 5-10 visits. You may have more questions about this.)
*I usually ask about flexibility of the schedule (if I could take a day off if family visits), some places are much less flexible with travelers.
*What's the best part of working at this facility?
*Sometimes I ask if they know how far people commute or if they know of anywhere to look for housing.
There are plenty of other questions to ask, but I mainly try to make sure that they put their patients first and that I get along with them during the interview.

When you start the job, expect to dive in quickly. Take notes, and do as much as you can to keep up with everything. Most places expect travelers to be ready to treat patients day one without much guidance, and to have comparable or higher productivity than permanent employees. If you're not ready for that, make sure you find a place that is comfortable with new grads and have more time to help you, or find a local job until you're more comfortable. Make sure you know when you're expected to be at meetings, and be ready for them, where to find equipment, etc. The first week can be a little rough, but it get's much better as time passes. Sometimes I have found and heard that permanent employees don't always love travelers being there. We usually are getting paid more and will only be there for a few months usually, so people don't always want to invest themselves to form relationships with you. I have had a lot of the opposite happen though, and have made many great friends and contacts along the way.
I have also learned so much from the various therapists. It's amazing tapping into to others' knowledge and having the opportunity grow along the way.

I've never worked for a company that I truly didn't enjoy, but if that's you after a few weeks, talk to your recruiter and see what they can do about it. Hopefully they are understanding and could possibly help you find a solution to what's going on.

Exploring different areas, getting great experience in a variety of settings, constant learning, meeting new people, growing as a person, great road trips, up to a month off between assignments if you like to travel between assignments while still being covered by insurance (depending on your company), and so far it's been great for our marriage to do this together, having to fully trust in God through the ups and downs.

Being away from family and friends, it's hard to get connected in a community in only 13 weeks, some of the benefits (401K, etc.), finding a job to work for my husband while we do this, not always knowing what you're doing. :)

The company I work for is Med Travelers. I really have had an overall great experience with them so far, and only wish a few things would be different.

I hope all this info helps, and would love any feedback anyone else has on the topic!!!!!


michelle & kyle said...

Hi. I am a future ot student searching for ot blogs to follow. I really like yours. It is really inspiring. Keep up the blogging! You have a unique prospective :)

Anonymous said...

Hiya! I'm a traveler as well, hope you don't mind that I linked this post as a related article. Happy Traveling! Mary