So, you want to be a travel therapist?

If you follow me on social media, you may have seen that I’ve recently moved from private practice to a travel job that placed me in a hospital setting! So, I want to share about this incredible experience!

How in the world do you get a travel job?
I researched and dipped my toes in the water with several companies before I took the plunge! I actually had been looking for PRN work and I found one company, particularly the recruiter, who I loved and felt comfortable trusting with my future. We talked about what my goals were and why I was looking for PRN work. I reallllyyy missed the medical side of our field, and needed to supplement my private practice income (no shows = no pay in private practice.)

There were three main things that influenced my decision: location, setting, and pay. There’s most likely not an assignment available that matches your exact location, perfect setting, and desired pay that also lines up with your timeline. I decided that setting was most important to me because I REALLY enjoy the medical setting and wanted to gain more experience there. Pay and location were tied for 2nd. I gave my recruiter a few cities and states that interested me and she started looking for a hospital setting there. The assignment truly was perfect for me! Half peds outpatient, which I had plenty of experience in, and half adult inpatient, which I wanted more experience in! The location and pay were both in the range that I was okay with.

So you found a position, now what?
I did a phone interview a few days later. The hospital offered the position the following morning and needed an answer by the end of the day. Things happen FAST with travel companies! I hung up, prayed like never before, and opened my Bible App. The verse was about not being a slave to anything of the world, and I knew I needed to let myself be free to travel, be free from material belongings, and be free from the fear of leaving a life that I loved but knew I had outgrown. I called my recruiter, asked 1000 questions, and accepted the job. I hung up the phone and cried a little when I thought about telling my current boss. I was leaving not just a job, but families, and littles, and my work family who I love SO MUCH! But, I was ecstatic about the opportunity to travel and explore new settings, and push my limits a little more than I was comfortable with at first!
One of my babies in Nashville

Some of my work fam at my clinic in Nashville

Then what?
I told my work family that I was leaving, and cried some more. A lot more. I told my families and my kiddos, and cried again. I put on my big girl pants and busted my tail for the next 5 weeks. I sold or donated everything I owned except my clothes. I jumped through (what felt like) the hundreds of hoops to get licensed in Washington in 5 weeks (this usually takes 8-12 weeks..) I found a hotel in a town not too far from the hospital to live in until I found something more permanent. And I did all of the things in Nashville that I had been waiting, for some reason, to do. My sister came to Nash for my last weekend and helped me pack up. I stopped in  Springfield, Missouri, to pick up my new puppy, Betty White and then in Oklahoma to grab my mama and the four of us took off!
Betty White
I’m a little more than half way through my 18 week assignment. Even with almost 2 months left, I feel like I’m not going to have enough time here. Washington State is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve EVER been! Where else in the world can you be surrounded by oceans, and mountains, and rainforests, and volcanoes all at the same time? (I’m sure there is somewhere, but language is my thing, not geography!) The people here are very different from home, but different doesn’t mean bad. I’ve heard that Nashville is a melting pot of people, but after experiencing Seattle and Portland, I realized Nashville has a lot to learn about melting together. It’s truly a more open and accepting place than I had ever experienced, and I dig that! There are people of all nationalities, genders, religions, and TONS of different languages to be found in the great PNW!
I found a great little town that is about 40 minutes from the hospital. The drive is a little long, but getting to have a lake and Mt. Rainier in my back yard negate any  extra driving! Plus, the drive is a great opportunity to call my mama and check in! 

What I’ve Learned So Far
- Traveling is one of the greatest challenges and rewards I’ve been blessed to experience. 
- The travel therapy business moves QUICKLY!! Most assignments aren't posted until 3-7 weeks before they need to be filled. So, you have to be ready to move quickly when you find the one you want.
- Talk to ALL the companies! Find a recruiter you “click” with. Be 100% honest about your expectations, they’ll fight for you to have what you want if they’re a good recruiter, but they cant fight for what they don't know about. 
- Be prepared to ditch those pants you’ve been hanging on to since high school and that Crock Pot you got 5 Christmases ago and haven't used. I sold EVERYTHING except my clothes, and a few sentimentals that I sent home to Oklahoma. There’s not room to take a whole ton, and you don't need it, if you’re fitting it all into your car or onto a plane. Anything you don't have, you can find once you’re on location.
- Get a hotel to start! Even if it’s a few days. Areas always look different in person. Scope out the scene online, but be prepared to find something different in real life. Ask your supervisor at your facility if they or any of the other employees know of anyone with a rental that you could lease for your stay! That’s how I found my little boat house!
- Be prepared to be a little lonely. And learn to enjoy the time you have with yourself. It can be hard to be half way across the country from everyone you know. I’ve been fortunate to have lots of visitors for the time I’ve been here, but there have been weekends when the only person I’ve talked to is my dog (yes, Betty is people lol.) I think time alone is some of the best spent time. I love to go hiking or kayaking by myself. (I turn on my location setting for someone at home to track me in case anything were to happen.) As I'm writing this right now, I'm sitting at a restaurant by myself having brunch. (Hart's Mesa in Olympia is worth trying!)
- Be prepared to be the new kid on the block at work regularly. I like the challenge of a new setting, a new facility, new co-workers. Switching assignments every few months will definitely keep me on my toes!
- Dont sit at your desk and eat lunch alone. As an SLP who literally talks ALL day, it’s so tempting to sit at my desk and enjoy some quiet time during lunch. I’ll admit I’m working on this one myself. You only get a few months with these people. Soak up the good they have to offer, learn them, learn their stories. If they’re therapists too, they’re bound to be some really wonderful people. At the end of your travel journey, you’ll have friends all across the map!
- GET OUT!! Go experience every single thing you can while you’re on assignment! My weekends have been FULL of visits to national parks, mountains, volcanoes, beaches, the rainforest, whale watching, kayaking, and some time in Seattle and Portland! I’m exhausted by the end of the week, but I know I only have 18 weekends here and I’m determined to make the most of them! After all, I didnt take a travel job to sit in my house and watch reruns of Friends..
Portland, Oregon

Ruby Beach, WA

Whale watching Orcas Island, WA

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier from the sky

La Push Beach, WA

Quinalt Rainforest

World's Largest Spruce Tree in the Quinalt Rainforest

Mt. St. Helens

Olympia, WA

Space Needle, Seattle, WA

Pike's Place Market, Seattle, WA

Freemont Troll

Gum Wall, Seattle, WA

What’s Next?
I’m currently looking for a position in the Tulsa area. I haven't lived at home in 3 years and I would LOVE to be there for the holidays. I always feel like my time at home is too short, even when I’m there for a week. I miss my family more than I could express and I hate that my nieces and nephews are growing up without me there. So, one of the perks of travel life is that I can choose where to go next! I plan to spend the fall in Oklahoma and head to HAWAII in the spring!! I’m not sure which one I’m more excited about!! 
Transition times can be a little nerve wracking, especially if you’re a typical Type A SLP. Like I said, this business moves quickly. In another 2 weeks, I will be in the right time frame to find an assignment that will give me about a week break in between the two. But if I wait too long, I’ll have too long of a gap without pay between them. It’s a “wait and HURRY UP!” game from what I’m learning. 

If you think you’re interested in travel, I say GO for it! It can be scary, but you know what else is scary? Mediocrity, and burnout, and boredom. The time is going to pass one way or another, so you may as well take a risk and give yourself the chance to discover something incredible! If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help! I don't claim to know it all. I’m still a baby traveler, but I’d love to offer any insight I can!

I hope you enjoy watching my journey and maybe take little journey of your own!

Sarah, Short and Sweet Speech

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