THE Job Search

I promised a few blogs about how we got all our details settled on this current assignment. Given the location (Alaska) being so far away, the popular season we are here in, and a number of other unpredictable factors, setting up this assignment was tricky.

In the past, I’ve worked with a few travelers who have negotiated their own contracts, but Kate and I had never done this. I’ve had some interest in it, but not enough to actively pursue it. There are advantages and disadvantages to both using a recruiter and going the independent route. When you do have a recruiter from a staffing agency, they are your advocate, your negotiator, and your first point of contact for any issues you may have on contract. Also, while we typically choose to arrange our own housing and travel, many staffing agencies will handle this for you if you like.

On the other hand, as an experienced traveler, having the securities of a recruiter as a third party representative comes at a cost. …a real monetary cost. The idea that really attracts people into arranging their own contracts is that you eliminate the middle man and the cost that goes with paying the middle man. Therefore, an employer can dish out less and you get the same or more.

On this assignment, we had a friend in the Anchorage area who was willing to drop our names around town and find some potential employers for us. This worked, this worked very well. Kate quickly got a job offer with a private practice just outside Anchorage. There was a period of stress where she had to be willing to be her own advocate and ask for certain details in her compensation package. Now, she is making good pay and has many of the tax free benefits that a recruiter would be able to offer. The clinic she’s working for has even allowed her to use a car that different therapists have driven over the years, SWEET!

My contract took a little bit longer to develop. I continued to search with a few recruiters, but nothing was really working out. I found a lot of jobs that had repeat travelers lined up for the summer or were just too far from town. We had already started our road trip to AK when another contact of my friend called wondering when I was available. The job hadn’t popped up on any of the searches because the director didn’t want to work through a staffing agency. As it worked out, my benefits are comparable to what I would make through an agency, but by eliminating the middle-man, the clinic is likely paying far lower than they would pay a recruiter… WIN-WIN!

Ultimately, we’re pleased with the jobs we’ve found. The jobs are where we wanted, when we wanted, and are professionally/mentally stimulating. The story of our success negotiating private contracts on this assignment does come with a warning. There were additional stresses having to negotiate our own benefits without a recruiter as a go-between. Also, we would not have been able to negotiate if we hadn’t worked with so many recruiters in the past. Also, if something were to go wrong with the contract, the assignment, or anything it’s on us! The buffer through a middle man is a nice comfort that frequently comes at only a small cost to the clinician.

Here are a few things that I recommend are in your contract whether you go it alone or work through a recruiter:

-Guaranteed 40 hours pay

-A 30 day notice clause for either party to end the contract

-Travel, housing, and licensure fee reimbursement

-Negotiating any planned days off ahead of time

-Holiday schedule and pay

I do have friends and past co-workers who have made their own contracts. We did not do this, the places we were working for had used contract staff before and had their own contracts. I have seen some independent contract examples if you’re interested.

 

 

The THE Series

The THE series. Of all our travel assignments this one has been the toughest to find THE housing, most unique in finding THE jobs, and longest of THE roadtrips. We left our apartment in Aspen 4 weeks ago today, we have put 4,500 miles on the car, racked up 8,000 frequent flier miles, and will finally move into our new place in one more week in Anchorage.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I feel like one role of this site is to develop a knowledge-base of travel healthcare experiences in an environment not influenced by recruiting companies. Everything Kate and I have been through over the past 6 weeks needs to be shared with other travelers, and can be used as a template for how-to and how-to-not.

Expect in the coming weeks the THE series: THE housing, THE job search, and THE first few weeks (a working title). Thanks for tuning in, travel safe.

Travel Healthcare Websites

I had something I wanted to blog about, I have totally forgotten what that was. I got on a tear tonight. I’m excited, I’m on fire.

It all started when a friend wrote to see if Kate and I would be at the traveling healthcare conference that’s coming up in October in Vegas. I love the idea of it, I’d love to be a contributing part of it, and I know that no matter what, it’d be a great time.   …in fact, maybe we’ll go.

However, it led me on a little exploration of its organizers and the sites that are similar to HoboHealth. There are more sites than you would think and as best I can tell, HoboHealth is the smallest of these site that will turn up on a few basic google searches. What got me so fired up is that everyone else is fricken SPONSORED! Isn’t the purpose of our sites to help fellow travelers, to advise them in the ways to get the most out of their employment and travel experiences!? Let face it, staffing agencies are financed by us working in whatever job is available and willing to pay for us, not by us waiting around for our perfect assignment. While there are VERY GOOD staffing agencies, there is a direct conflict of interest in them paying us to give good advice!!! A site promising to aide travelers in their decisions cannot be funded by the very entities travelers are doing business with.

I have my own recruiters that I trust greatly, and I have plenty of companies that have failed at the task of holding their travelers’ needs at the center of their business. If you are one of the very few recruiters that works with me, know that Kate and I consider you within our personal circle and have the greatest trust in you. I wish I could plug my friends here, but it undermines the whole point of this website: To help travelers navigate the complicated business of travel PT and to help travelers have positive, well supported assignments in their own paradise.

I’ve spoken with some of my recruiters before about partnering, but never followed through, I never really knew why. I’ve visited sites identical to HoboHealth with 5 times the visitors and wondered how they got all that traffic. Tonight, when I realized those sites are advertising some of the very staffing agencies I despise, I figured out why this site has remained both independent and less visited. Our participants are real travelers just looking for tips from other travelers with no bias. Staffing agencies make their money on the work we do. They should be pleased to have us work for them and should work hard to keep us happy and protected. I love the opportunity here to help other travelers find the same joy in travel physical therapy that my wife and I have.

If you’re a site like HoboHealth without corporate backing, get in touch, let’s help each other help others. If you’re a traveler, ask questions and learn how to travel happily with companies that will support you, not companies only looking to earn their profit off your skilled work. I have found the companies that are willing to support me in my extravagant travels to awesome places with awesome people, I want you to find yours.

Oh man, I’m fired up…. and I finally feel like there’s a purpose to this very time consuming hobby.    🙂    Thanks for reading, I promise more light-hearted travel pictures soon.

 

Traveling doesn’t have to mean professional sacrifice.

This is the first blog of many. Enough with the statement of intention, let’s get down to it. Choosing quality continuing education programs as a traveling therapist can be a challenge. Courses are often found on-the-go between assignments or among a selection of whatever is available locally.

My biggest fear when a new PT tells me they want to start traveling are the potential loss of mentorship and professional growth. I think in my 5th year of practice (4th year of traveling) I’m just finally getting my head around the things that are important in PT practice. To understand the important pieces of practice that are so necessary to progress to my current level, some mentorship and progression had to happen.

continuing-education-travel-pt-hobohealthI don’t mean to say that an immediate new grad can’t travel, it just takes the right person who is willing to self-motivate and work that extra bit to find the professional expansion they need. My first travel assignment was perfect. It was in a community hospital with a steady staff and a solid director. I had the infrastructure around me where I could ask questions and work towards answers with my co-workers’ help. Ultimately, I found the mentorship I needed to grow. Because of the mentorship and support, I extended my contract there several times, a total of 10 months on my first travel assignment (longer than the “permanent” job I worked before traveling).

Clearly, you’re not always going to be able to find that assignment with all the support you want. So here’s my short list of the other ways to stay motivated, stay on track with your professional goals, and stimulate that mind of yours:

Take a certificate program (i.e. Paris, Maitland, McKenzie, etc.)

These certifications I personally believe are narrow in scope, but they require multiple courses and extensive study in their content. The process for each makes a person a stronger and more knowledgeable therapist.

Become an ABPTS Board Certified Clinical Specialist

This is most comprehensive way to expand you knowledge base in a specific practice area. The studying and learning required to pass the exam for a specialist certification is very time consuming, but will force you to stay up on the latest research and techniques. When you receive the certification it’s a great distinction for your resume and future interviews.

Attend state and national APTA conferences

Conferences are a great way to gain exposure to the highest level of practice. You can get education on a great variety of topics and practice setting in one place. The energy and inspiration at these meetings is contagious.

Enroll in a residency program

There are residencies that allow therapists to take a series of courses on weekends and collaborate with a mentor/expert through electronic means. Finding the right residency can be tough as a traveler, but it can be done if you are determined!

Add a new skill

Take a course on something specific you want to add to your tool box. The sooner you can put new techniques to work, the better, so maybe it’s a skill that meshes well with your current practice setting. Continuing education topics that come to mind for me would be dry needling, manipulation, wilderness medicine, primary responder for sports, mobilization with movement, or muscle energy technique, but your list might be very different from mine.