Everyone has always told me to work to live, not live to work. Before, I took that as having to choose between professional advancement or personal enjoyment. Now, I’ve discovered that being a travel tech gives me the opportunity to pursue both.
Travel Tech Bucket List with Melodie Vuong, MT
Why I’m a traveling MT
My career goals aren’t the traditional ones. I would love to work in different cities rather than climb the corporate ladder. I’d prefer to have a flexible schedule rather than a permanent office. I want to continuously learn rather than grow too comfortable in my position.
With these preferences in mind, being a travel tech has been perfect for me. I choose to only work three days a week, and I’m able to explore the city and surrounding area on my days off. Additionally, I get to work with new instruments and different patient populations on each assignment. Since most of the things on my “needs” list have been met, I’ve been able to add to my “wants” list.
Obviously, the best part of being a travel tech is the traveling! Since most assignments are 13 weeks, I usually have plenty of time to explore the city and anything nearby. And if I truly love the area, there’s the possibility of an extension. There have been a few places where I feel like a vacation wouldn’t have been enough time to appreciate it. Why put a pause on my adventures when I can still explore and work?
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Travel tech bucket list locations
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Seeing the northern lights has been on my bucket list ever since I learned about them. This is especially true after I did some research and found out that the solar maximums follow an 11-year cycle with the peak happening in 2024. Could the timing be more perfect?
I’ve seen so many pictures and videos of the aurora borealis on social media and every time, I wish I was experiencing it in real life versus seeing it through a screen. Each one is unique — some will slowly grow into something amazing while others will be breathtaking right from the start. There are those that cover the sky with vibrant greens to contrast the dark sky while others have hints of pink and purple to soften the night sky. While I could just plan a vacation and hope to see the lights during that time, I’d much rather have multiple opportunities to truly appreciate them, and one way to do that is to search for travel tech jobs in Alaska!
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Surfing, snorkeling, stargazing — sign me up! The archipelago has so much to offer in terms of culture and nature. I want to try all the foods, hike the trails, surf on the beaches, and take in all the breathtaking views.
Yes, I could plan a short vacation, but I think I’d need to visit for months to experience everything that I want to do. With all that I want to explore, I’d much rather space out the adventures to prolong the magic. I try not to visit a place twice, so I wouldn’t want to put future me in a position of rushing everything or regretting missing something.
As I look forward to the rest of my career, there are so many exciting future opportunities that await. I’ve always wanted to work outside of the United States — to pack my bags and go somewhere foreign to discover more about myself. However, I could never find the justification to do so. A tiny part of me feels like I’ve missed out on potential growth. Nevertheless, working as a traveling med tech in a U.S. territory could be a compromise to past me, who was a bit more carefree but not as confident.
Traveling outside of the U.S. is one of the biggest goals I have, both professionally and personally. There’s still so much to research and prepare for, so it’ll probably be a few years before I take the leap. I want to gain more experience as a travel tech in the U.S. before going somewhere more foreign than just another town or state.
Pros of being a travel lab tech
Working with medical lab technology
As I travel to different labs, I work with different instruments, SOPs, patient populations, and other techs. The novelty of other labs provides me with the opportunity to improve my technique as a tech and push me out of my comfort zone. While there are some more common instruments than others, it’s always exciting to work with a new machine and medical technology.
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Learning new techniques
Each lab also has its own protocols for certain tests. While it’s not my favorite part of the job to memorize new procedures, the differences in technique allow me to learn how to treat patients in different ways. From pediatric to geriatric patients, different demographics provide me the opportunity to run specific tests, practice specialized procedures, or see unique cases.
For instance, geriatric patients may also be oncology patients. Therefore, their hematology results tend to have lower cell counts and more abnormal cells. This gives me the opportunity to improve differentiating cells and identifying rare cells. Pediatric patients have special criteria to release blood, which gives me training on how to handle more sensitive patients.
A level I trauma hospital encounters different scenarios than a more secluded lab. Imagine having to give emergency release blood to save a patient arriving in an ambulance versus working completely independently on routine tests. Both scenarios are stressful, but it also allows me to prove that I can work under pressure to provide the best patient care.
Networking with other medical professionals
Networking has never been my strong suit. I’ve always wished I had the charisma to win over a room; in reality, I’m definitely more of a wallflower. Nevertheless, I’ve learned as a travel tech that meeting new people will always be a part of the routine. From expressing to recruiters what I’m looking for in assignments to working with my new coworkers, I’ve learned how to communicate efficiently.
With recruiters, I‘ve gained confidence when advocating for myself, whether it’s about submitting an assignment or negotiating the pay package. With coworkers, there’s a balance of showing I’m competent while still being open to learning the new policies of the lab. Despite the anxiety of constantly meeting new people, I know that this will help me in the long run. I want to be more confident and be able to speak for myself.
With each assignment, it’s becoming more natural to talk to strangers as if they were friends. My next goal is to stay in contact with the people that I‘ve gotten close to. Aside from growing more comfortable with having surface-level conversations, I also want to establish strong relationships in the field.
I’m still so new to being a travel tech that I know that this is just the beginning of my list. I can’t wait to discover more “wants” to add to my list. And I especially hope to be able to cross off a few of them as I continue on this journey!