One of the continuously fast-growing nursing job opportunities is that of a traveling nurse. These professionals are willing and able to move about the country—and sometimes internationally—to provide their expertise and knowledge to areas suffering from a personnel shortage, due to one reason or another. While nursing jobs used to top the list for travel assignments, the demand has grown in certain allied health fields, specifically physical therapist and physical therapist assistant (PTA) jobs, and occupational therapist and occupational therapist assistant (OTA) jobs.
The benefits are somewhat obvious, but worth pointing out if you are just considering this career option. As a travel nurse, physical therapist, or occupational therapist, you get to choose areas across the U.S. that you’ve always wanted to see. You get to know the community and its people, and make new friends and industry contacts, everywhere you go. You’ll learn new skills and procedures you’ve never experienced, and you’ll have job security—generally at 13-week, contracted intervals.
Of course, one of the biggest selling points in being a traveling nurse or allied health professional is that these opportunities offer fantastic salaries, coupled with housing and living expense subsidies, which make travel nurse positions or other travel healthcare positions almost too good to be true. But while almost everyone would like to earn more money, keep in mind, these positions do not suit everyone! Consider the following personality traits carefully, to see if travel opportunities are for you:
- Are you confident in your skills and abilities, and ready to accept your place as the “new guy”? Traveling nurses and allied health professionals don’t have much time to get up to speed with things, but you’ll be expected to jump right in with both feet running. And no matter how you excel, you’ll always be a temporary employee. Confidence in your knowledge and abilities will help you meet your responsibilities and keep both your feet on the ground… which should make being the low-man on the totem pole easier to deal with on a daily basis.
- Are you adaptable, flexible, and willing to learn? Things may not be done in ways you’re used to doing them, but you’ll have to adapt quickly to work within new, set parameters. These new ways of performing your job may become frustrating, but remember: you are only there for a short time. If you absolutely must address a situation, know who to speak with, and use great diplomacy to make any procedural suggestions. You want to be remembered as a knowledgeable professional; not as a perceived know-it-all.
- Are you a friendly, outgoing person who is equally comfortable being alone? The worst thing you can do when moving to a new area is finish up at work and go home. Think about it: part of the experience in traveling is getting to know the community and its people. Your new colleagues won’t always be available to join you around town, so you have to be comfortable going to the coffee shop, stores, or restaurant by yourself…and enjoy the experience!
There are other considerations, like are you organized enough to have a home-base and a traveling home? Do you have a family or pets? It’s important to remember being a traveling nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other travel healthcare professional is about more than just having skills and experience: it’s a whole, new lifestyle offering many perks, rewards, and its own set of challenges. Do some research to make sure it’s a lifestyle that suits you! The Professional Association of Nurse Travelers (for all traveling healthcare providers) offers lots of great resources on the traveling lifestyle, at PANTravelers.org.
Whether you’re looking for a new, local opportunity or you’re ready to expand your horizons, MAS Medical Staffing and its professional staff can help move your career down a new path. Contact us today.