Becoming a healthcare traveler isn’t as difficult as you may think. Have you ever thought about embarking on this exciting career path? Why not travel while also doing something you love? If you’re new to the traveling game, we’ve got all the details to help guide you through the decision-making process. One thing we will stand behind—once you take the plunge, you’ll realize it’s the most rewarding decision you could have made.
Your Guide To Traveling As A Medical Professional
How to get started traveling
Thinking about becoming a medical traveler is one thing but putting those thoughts into action is another. You deserve to have autonomy over your career, so the first thing you need to do is research—the different locations you’d like to travel to, as well as staffing agencies you want in your corner. Before you jump into it and sign on with the first company who makes promises, you’ll want to make sure they have your back. All staffing agencies are going to have roughly the same guidelines and close to the same travel pay, but not all of them have the right attitude—the one that puts you in charge of your career.
After researching the company, make sure you interview your account manager. Interviewing goes both ways, right? You’re developing a relationship with the account manager and team who will help you get the travel job you want, so get comfortable and make a connection with them. Your recruiter will help get your questions answered and the logistics worked out while you are out on the road.
Once you find this professional BFF, they’ll work with you on where you want to go. Those early moments of when you started dreaming of where you wanted to travel—this is where you FINALLY get to put your dreams into action.
Qualifications and requirements
As with every job, there will be some requirements needed in order to get hired on. Lucky for you though, you’ve probably already made the first step by getting educated in your field. Each healthcare division is different though, so travel requirements may vary.
Lab and Nursing
Lab professionals and nurses are always in high demand and the need is universal throughout the U.S. You have valuable skills that enhance the flexibility of traveling too. Anyone in the nursing industry interested in traveling will need to have a minimum of one year of experience under their belt before they’re considered eligible to hit the road. However, some facilities might require the nursing division to have two years.
PT’s, OT’s, PTA’s, COTA’s, and SLP’s can join the travel industry once they have completed their education, received their degree, and get their license (for example, physical therapists who have received their Doctorate in PT). So get out there already and live your dream!
All the details on licensing
Which division you work in will depend on how you get your licensing.
Before you can land that new assignment, you’ll need to apply to get a license in the state you are wanting to work. The best part is most staffing agencies will reimburse you for the license cost after you receive it. Hot tip: Apply for state licenses as early as possible because some states can have a lengthy approval process. For instance, to get a license in California it may take up to three months to get approved, while in Nevada it could only take a week or two. If you manage your time wisely for this, you can use the approval wait times to your advantage. So if you’re wanting to travel to California or another state with a long approval wait, you can complete an assignment in a different state that has a quicker application rate while you are waiting for that other license to get approved.
For most MT/MLT positions, the moment you graduate, you are guaranteed to be able to work in 39 states right away. However, in the other eleven states, you need to apply for the license there. These states are Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Hawaii, Florida, West Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, California, and Louisiana. Once you get on the road, you can start the individual application process to those other states you’re considering traveling to.
Nursing Licensure Compact is a license that allows nurses to have one multistate license, with the ability to practice in any of those states. However, there is a catch—only 25 states are included in this compact license, plus you have to have a permanent residency in at least one of those states (the link above has all 25 states listed). If you are not currently living in any of those states or want to travel outside of the compact license states, then you’ll need to apply for an individual state license for every assignment taken.
The basics on travel assignments
Let’s break this down a little bit more and give you the 4-1-1 on these actual assignments. The majority of them are right around 13 weeks. It goes by quickly, but it’s enough time to get some good experience, discover some cool places within your new city, and to make new friends. Sometimes your facility will need to extend a contract. Both parties (you and the facility) will have to agree to the extension and determine the new length of the renewal. In that case, you’ll get to stay in your current assignment even longer. Or, if you don’t agree to the assignment extension, then your account manager will work with you on getting you a new placement in a whole new location you’ve been wanting to check out.
When it gets down to the details of the assignment though, your account manager will provide you with several different options. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide which assignment suits you best. If you want to get an idea of what current jobs are available at the moment, take a gander and search jobs here.
Understanding per diems and bill rates
Besides having the passion to help others, you still have a job to do, right? And for that job, you need to be able to make a living. So the next question is, how do you know what a fair pay rate is? There are so many different components that go into your contract. Regardless of what any staffing agency tells you, you’ll always have the ability to check to make sure you are getting what you deserve and what is legal. Fusion is dedicated to transparency, so when you search for your next travel assignment, you’ll see the details up front. No hidden conversations. No side stepping. Just plain honesty, so you can get started quickly without the runaround.
First off, let’s understand what per diem is exactly. According to the General Services Administration (GSA), “Per diem is the allowance for lodging (excluding taxes), meals and incidental expenses.” The GSA provides information about the per diem allowed in every city and state. This can be extremely useful when considering what the hospital pay rate is, as well as the cost of living. You’ll be provided with two options for your contract:
1) A higher take home rate, but you’ll have to find your own housing by researching the area, paying the deposit, being responsible for utilities, etc.
2) A lower take home rate, but that option will allow your staffing company to find housing for you and take care of all the nitty gritty details of setting it up.
Some travelers prefer one over the other. Find what suits you best and what makes you feel most comfortable.
Are you a new grad?
If you are a new grad, there are some huge perks to getting started as a traveling medical professional. Maybe you don’t know which modality you want to work in yet or the idea of traveling is making you nervous. Check out this blog, How To Combat Your First Time Travel Job Jitters, if you’re feeling anxious about getting on the road. Traveling is a huge change of pace for some people, but it gives you the opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and work in a variety of positions before focusing on specific modalities. It also gives you the chance to see other people in your profession, and learn how others do their paper processing, work with different patients, or even go through their daily routines.
One of the main questions that a new grad has is, “Will there be any mentoring available?” That’s a great question, and to be honest, these facilities are usually looking to hire someone to fill a position temporarily, meaning they need someone to be able to step in and complete the job by using the skills they were trained with. The great part of that is that Fusion is able to place you at facilities that want new grads, so they can help mold you into the industry. Our student outreach team knows can help you find the best places to go for your first few assignments, and which facilities will help you transition easily into the travel world.
Now is the time to explore open traveler positions and choose the best position that not only fits your lifestyle but what you want personally and professionally. As a medical traveler, you’ll get to grow in your career, learn new skills, and add to your portfolio of personal life experiences. Find your footing and step into your future as a traveling medical professional.