How to Set Up a Traveling Therapy Independent Contract

Following a blog post on June 28th (describing setting up a traveling PT independent contract in Alaska), 2012 I got a lot of people asking more about setting up an independent contract as a traveling physical therapist. Here is the path I take when seeking a contract directly with a clinic and some samples of what independent contracts might look like.

traveling pt independent contractI usually use a staffing agency for placement with my traveling contracts, but the 3 or 4 times I haven’t been able to find a contract through an agency, I have found one on my own. Typically this process starts through a Google search and my cold-calling a few clinics that seem like they would be good places to work. In my experience, the first two clinics say no and hang up abruptly, but the third clinic usually has a need (this is by no means scientific). After I speak with whoever is in charge of hiring, email a resume, and then interview with the head clinician, the negotiating starts. Negotiating the pay package can be the hard part.

In my experience, most clinics willing to hire a temporary employee already have their own contracts. I believe it is easiest to be hired as a temporary employee through a contract offered by the facility, rather than presenting your own contract. I know people who have incorporated themselves and had a lawyer draw up a contract for them, so it can be done, but seems much more complicated than it has to be – to be clear, I have never drafted my own contract, I have always had one offered to me.

To recap and summarize the ideal process for finding an independent contract:

-Physical Therapist contacts the facility for interview and offers temporary services
-Resume is emailed, interview occurs
-The facility offers a reimbursement package and contract to the PT, negotiation also occurs at this time
-Contract is signed by both parties

Sample Independent Contracts for Traveling Therapists

These sample independent contracts should only be used for reference and education. They are only examples of the various components that can exist in an independent travel contract. These are not intended to be copied and used as actual contracts:

This first contract is as simple as they get. Cut-and-dry, very straight forward. The only compensations are salary pay, housing stipend, and travel reimbursement. It is fairly protective of the employer in its language and offers none of the compensation tax-free. Independent Contract 1

Contract 2 is still fairly simple, but offers additional protections and benefits to the employee. You will see there is a borrowed vehicle, per diem with other tax free reimbursements, hourly pay (40 hour guaranteed, and specified holidays). This contract does contain a non-compete, please don’t sign a non-compete if at all possible. Independent Contract 2

Contract 3 is the type of contract you would need if you had incorporated and were offering yourself as a true independent contractor (1099 versus just a temporary employee). Seems overly elaborate to me, but offers a lot of food for thought. Independent Contract 3



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  4. Hi there great post! I’ve read before that you cannot do a travel contract for a company you have worked for directly in the past year. Do you know if it would be okay to work a travel assignment as an independent contractor got a company that you worked per diem with in the past year? Thanks, Sarah.

    • Sarah, it all depends upon the contract the employer has signed with the staffing agency. I understand it is very common practice for them to have a clause in their contract that limits them from hiring you unless they pay a fee to the agency (I’ve heard $20,000 to “buy-out” a therapist’s contract). On the other hand, I was trying to set up an independent contract with a facility I had done a travel assignment with in the past and their contract had no mention of any non-compete or need to buy-out my contract. So, it’s case-by-case, ask your employer to check their previous contract with the staffing agency, because if there are limitations, that’s likely where it will be. -James

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  6. Very informative post. I am interested in becoming an independent contractor PT but was wondering if it can be done partime while PT is also working parttime as an employee?

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  10. What do you find is best as far as medical benefits – have you heard any traveling assignments will sign u up temp with their benefits from day 1?

  11. Looking for a contract agreement for an independent contractor / private practice clinician to use with my private pay clients, not between an IC and employer. Any suggestions?

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