Becoming a Traveling Medical Professional
A career filled with diverse experiences, a debt-free life, one filled with adventures, not things, and an ever-changing place to call home.
This is why I travel.
If you are a healthcare provider looking to get paid to travel the country but aren’t sure how to get started, this article will teach you how. Use these steps to help you become a traveling medical professional.
Step 1: Write Down your Goals
Before getting started it is important to discover your “why.” Why do you want to be a traveling medical professional?
Is it for the increased pay?
Are you looking for flexibility?
Do you hope to explore and travel?
Are you wanting tod get exposure to different clinical settings?
Write down what is important to you and why. This will help direct your conversations with potential recruiters and give them an idea of how to better assist you. Often times, as a traveling medical professional, you have to make sacrifices. A suburban location may pay much better than an urban location or maybe you find a great paying position in a desirable location but it might not be in your preferred clinical setting. This isn’t always the case but often times were asked to make compromises and this is where having a list of your top priorities can be beneficial.
Step 2: Research Different Travel Companies & Interview Recruiters
Searching for a travel company and recruiter can seem like quite an overwhelming task. To make the task less daunting start by finding just a handful of companies. Read reviews, discover the incentives the company offers to its travelers and set up a time to chat with a recruiter.
In our opinion, a good recruiter is more important than the company they work for. Generally speaking, most travel companies offer very similar incentives. Yes, some have new graduate programs and some offer mentorship programs, etc. But the value of a good recruiter is priceless.
A good recruiter will have your greatest interests at heart, they will work with you and for you to find what you’re searching for. They will not pressure you into something you’re not comfortable with just to fill a contract. Unfortunately, there are some recruiters out there that do not have your best interests at heart and are solely doing the job to get a paycheck. This is why it is so important to interview multiple recruiters. Ask them questions! Get a feel for their personality. This will help you narrow down your options.
As a traveling medical professional, choosing the right recruiter is crucial to a smooth and rewarding process.
Step 3: Determine Housing
Now that you’ve prioritized your goals, found a company and recruiter, it’s time to think about housing. Where will you live while traveling the country?
For Drew and I, we knew we wanted to maximize our pay in order to pay down our student loan debt. We researched multiple short term housing options in different parts of the country and we were absolutely shocked by the costs. After a brief search, we could not find short term housing under $1,000/ month even in rural parts of the country!
This is part of the reason we chose to pursue RV living. The RV lifestyle has allowed us to save money, has given us a sense of stability while always on the move and provided us a place to call home. We realize RV life isn’t for everyone however, it’s certainly an option worth exploring.
Step 4: Explore Job Postings and Opportunities
There are plenty of travel healthcare jobs available, but they aren’t found everywhere. For example, Drew and I would have great difficulty finding a job in the state of Utah but would have over a 100 to choose from in California. Certain states are known for having a “good” market for travelers while others are more scarce.
There are a lot of factors that play into the market but they differ by profession so it is important to do your research. States that may have numerous Physical Therapist positions may have very few Speech Language Pathologist positions. Explore your options and find a few states of interest, the more open-minded you are, the easier time your recruiter will have finding a contract.
Try to be flexible and have a few options in mind.
Step 5: Obtain Licensure & Secure Your Contract
Once you have decided where you are interested in traveling it is important to investigate licensure. As physical therapists, Drew and I must obtain a license in each state we want to work.
Each state has different requirements and the processing time for licensure differs as well. In the state of California, for example, it can take up to 6 months to obtain a PT license whereas an Alabama license can be obtained in about 4 weeks. Your travel company and recruiter will walk you through the licensure process. However, it is important to know what timeframes you are working with in order to obtain your desired position.
We have learned through our own experience that obtaining a license in advance and prior to accepting a contract is much less stressful. Most job listings are posted only a few weeks in advance, so by having initiated the licensure process ahead of time, you will have more options especially if you’re looking to travel to a busy travel market, such as California.
There is a world of opportunity out there, literally, you just have to be willing to take a step outside your comfort zone.
Courtney and her fiancé Drew are traveling physical therapists living in an RV with their furry travel companions, Dany and Dempsey. After graduation, they chose an untraditional lifestyle in order to pursue their goals of achieving financial freedom and traveling the country while pursuing a career they love.
Courtney has a passion for design and she and Drew are currently in the process of renovating their second RV. In their free time, they enjoy exploring local breweries, coffee shops, and hiking trails. You can keep tabs on their adventures on Instagram @thervpts