I’m A New Therapist. Can I Travel?

Throughout your college career, you are tied to the location of your university and most likely have limited funds. Vacations are scheduled around school breaks and don’t allow you the time to really explore a new location. Once you graduate, you have the entire world open to you with few limitations. This is an excellent time in your life to explore the country as a travel therapist!

Even as a new graduate, you can experience a new city or state (and get paid while doing it) as long as you have the correct guidance and resources. After spending years working toward your degree, it is both exciting and intimidating to think of beginning your career without familiar supports and peers.

However, it’s not hard to see why a therapist would want to experience the benefits of a travel assignment:

Flexibility and Choice

With most assignments scheduled for 13 weeks, you have the chance to go beyond being a tourist and really explore your new home. Instead of committing to a permanent position, a travel job will give you an experience that feels like another clinical rotation and provides you with ongoing variety in both your work and social life. Travel positions are most often available in high-need areas and you will frequently be offered an extension of your assignments or another position in the surrounding area.

Professional Development

Working in a new location not only allows you to see the country, but helps you learn new skills and techniques that you may not be exposed to in your home state. Clients have different priorities and interests depending on the lifestyle specific to the place they live. This shapes the perspectives and interventions you will learn from fellow clinicians.

Competitive Compensation

Since facilities are eager to fill critical needs, they offer attractive compensation packages—even for new graduates! Most therapy practitioners leave school with some debt incurred while obtaining their education and want to begin paying off these loans as quickly as possible. Depending on your needs, a travel opportunity has a compensation structure that can be tailored to you. This can include medical benefits from day one, relocation assistance, a competitive pay structure with tax-free stipends to cover your meals and housing, licensure reimbursement, continuing education support, and on-call clinical guidance.

With all of these benefits, why doesn’t every new graduate travel?!

It’s time to get realistic.

Facilities that have a shortage of therapy professionals are usually very appreciative of the help and welcoming when a temporary practitioner joins them to fill a gap in service. However, developing professional and social relationships, while simultaneously learning a new documentation system, finding your way around the facility, understanding what is expected of you, and treating new clientele can be exhausting. Adapting to different work environments not only builds your clinical skills but your interpersonal competency and therapeutic use of self.

It may be frightening to move across the country for an assignment that is only 13 weeks in length, but the right Staffing Manager will ensure you are continually employed by creating a plan well before the assignment ends. As a new graduate, your lack of experience may limit your options and initially prevent you from being placed in your ideal location or practice setting. This is the reality of any new professional in a competitive field. Experienced practitioners will typically have an advantage and be selected over another candidate fresh out of school. On the bright side, after completing a few assignments, you are much more marketable and that much closer to your ideal assignment!

If you decide travel therapy is right for you, seek an employer that is able to provide you with the support and guidance you need. Clinical support and resources are essential to ensure that beginning your career as a travel therapist leads to professional and personal growth, rather than frustration and disappointment.

At The Execu|Search Group, a Joint Commission accredited staffing agency, professional development is an important part of our core values. Our competent and compassionate Staffing Managers guide you through the entire travel experience from seeking and securing your first assignment to any challenges you face in your placement. Your clinical concerns are addressed by our Director of Clinical Services, an experienced clinician who is a phone call away.

This article was co-written by Mindy Booth, MA, OTR/L & James Hook, Staffing Manager