Getting started on your travel therapy journey is one of the hardest and most confusing parts, so I want to share all of the tips and tricks I have learned thus far.
You always need to keep the following documents updated and complete to save you time and make the process move along seamlessly:
Recommendation letters from previous clinical instructors (at least two if you’re a new grad) or current/previous employers
Updated physical (if you don’t have one of these yet, it’s okay!)
Current CPR card
A list of days you may need off within the year (don’t have it figured out yet? NBD! I’ll dress more on this later in the post.)
Who to Contact
In my opinion, this is the most important parts. You need to find recruiters that are willing to advocate for you and work hard on their end to find you a job. They are the gate keepers, literally. Good news? I have a list of recruiters that I trust completely and have had amazing experiences with. I’d be happy to personally connect you with them. Just fill out the form at the bottom of this post please and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Full disclosure: If I connect you with recruiters and you take assignments with them, I will get referral bonuses. But I would never connect you with a recruiter I don’t trust, which is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome when you first start out. Finding good recruiters is harder than I ever thought it would be.
IMPORTANT: Recruiters will contact your references. Once you submit your paperwork to an agency (resume, etc.) be sure to contact your references and let them know they may be getting a call from the agency you are working with (more to come on this later).
How many recruiters/companies to contact
This is totally dependent on how efficient and organized you are. My fiancé and I were working with four companies for our first assignment, but this required a lot of upkeep (see #4 below) on our end.
Different companies WILL have different jobs, different opportunities for settings, and totally different benefits. Having options is 100% necessary and okay.
RED FLAG: If a recruiter says you are only allowed to work with them, don’t work with that recruiter. Period. Run. Hang up the phone. (No worries, the ones I work with and love are A-OK with you working with multiple companies!)
Know how to work with multiple companies
Transparency is key. Always tell your recruiters you are working for other companies.
Always have a spreadsheet of your submittals, separated by company: city, state, setting, facility name, pay. You need to be told all of these things 1. before your recruiter submits you (always tell your recruiter you do not want to be submitted to jobs until you give them the OK), 2. before you interview so you can speak to what you like about the facility, and 3. to avoid double-submitting; double submitting is not good: if company A and company B submit you to the same job, it’s pretty likely that that facility won’t consider your application.
How to choose where to go
Where you want to go is such a tough thing to address. It comes down to the following: salary, location, and setting. Within those three, especially if you are a new grad, you can be picky about two of them. Once you have some experience, you can be pretty picky about all three.
Example: It’s difficult when you say you want only outpatient, a salary above 1800 take home per week, and you only want to work in Virginia.
What I didn’t expect as a new grad: it is harder to secure an interview, it is normal for it to take about 2-3 weeks to secure a job, and salary is one of the first things that will be used as leverage. Example: If a new grad and an experienced PT applied for the same job, the facility may tell your recruiter that they will interview you if you’ll accept a lower pay rate (always be sure this pay rate is acceptable, keep reading on for suggestions!). Don’t worry, after 1-2 assignments, being a new grad will not be used against you when it comes to salary.
Know that you have resources to help you
Questions? Please reach out to me. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll point you in the right direction.
There are also a lot of travel therapy groups on Facebook: Travel Therapy Mentor, New Grad Travel Therapy, and Travel Therapy Therapists are three examples. Within these groups, it’s common to see job postings and questions about pay packages. If you message the pages directly, they are always happy to help and answer any questions you have!
Wanderlustpts.com is also a great resource!
So I think it’s equally important to understand how the process works and what to expect so I’ll try my best to run through every step.
Get your documents in order and place them in a folder so they are ready to send off to all of the recruiters you select.
Get to know your recruiters and companies.
Health insurance, pay package breakdowns, do they have license reimbursement, do they cover relocation expenses, how will they advocate for you as a PT (discuss what makes you great!), how available your recruiter is (text, email, calls), talk about job opportunities and what settings and locations you are interested in.
Tell them what you expect of them. Be sure they know you do not want to be submitting unless you give the OK and that you want to know pay breakdowns and facility names before you submit. Travel Therapy Therapists has an entire document available in the group files that consists of interview questions that you should ask your recruiter! It’s a great resource.
Complete all required paperwork for your company. This will be pretty fast if you have #1 completed and ready to go.
Your recruiter will give you a list of open jobs in the area that you are looking at. Look at the list, ask about the companies, and choose where you want to submit to. Be sure you know the pay and the facility name before you are submitted. Pay shouldn’t be a secret.
Once you are submitted, keep track of each submission as stated above.
Check in with your recruiters daily. It’s truly a waiting game.
What I didn’t expect: cold calls. 4/5 interviews I had for my first job were complete cold calls (aka the facility will call you whenever they have time to do so). To prepare for cold calls, be sure you research the company as soon as you are submitted. Extensive research isn’t necessary, but you should have some idea about the values, the location, etc. Always be ready for an interview!
The interview: keep in mind that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Ask about productivity, training time, commutes, documentation time, etc. Questions are dependent on what setting you will be in. You do not discuss pay during the interview. Pay is only discussed between you and your recruiter.
Offers: if a company thinks you’d be a good fit, you’ll receive an offer. It’s typically respectful to let a company know within two business days.
Things to keep in mind:
Once you start interviewing and receiving offers, that can be used as a push for other facilities to interview you
Therefore, you should tell your recruiters when you are interviewing for other companies as well. Always keep them informed.
The company you work with will likely pay for your physical, etc. if you are hired for a job. Ask about what they cover when you meet with your recruiter for the first time.
Keep ALL of your receipts (licensing, doctors, etc.)
Read your contract in full. If you do not know what days you will need off during your assignment, you can always ask to place “2 days with manager permission” in the contract. That way you know you will have two days off during your contract. What is in your contract is what stands, so always read this over and ask if you change something if it isn’t correct.
Questions? Please reach out!