Guest Author: Wes Herdlein – The Do’s and Don’ts of PT Licensure

travel physical therapist at deskAfter 6 years as a traveling PT and obtaining licenses in 11 states, I have learned some lessons the hard way. In an effort to make it easier for the next generation, here are a few tips to help you along the way:

1) Maintain your license in your home state. Even if you rarely work there, this helps support your cause if the IRS decides to question your tax free earnings. It’s a smart move to earn some income in your home state every so often as well. (See Joseph Smith’s blogs on this community for more tax tips.)

2) Create some commonly used documents in the application process and keep them up to date. Make a folder on your computer for “state licensure”. Some files that will be helpful are listed below. These can be in either and Excel spreadsheet or a Word document table.

a. Employment History – start and end date, address, supervisor’s name and phone number, agency name, etc

b. Licensure History: State license number, date obtained, current or expired

c. A record of license expiration dates, renewal CEU requirements, and phone and addresses of the state licensing boards. (You can also organize your Favorites folders in your web browser to include all websites needed for licensing and verifications.)

3) I have uploaded a few files that you can use as templates on Healthcare Travelbook. You can find them at http://healthcaretravelbook.com/files.

4) Be nice. Sometimes you need to grease the wheels to push a license application through. Making a “friend” at the license board is sometimes the best way. Write their name down and thank them. (you might even send their boss a kudos for their professionalism, even if they weren’t so professional. They will remember you and be even more helpful when you need a license verification sent from them to another state. This has worked in some desperate situations!)

5) The good, the bad, the ugly: (good = easy to get a license)

a. Good states: North Carolina, Alabama, Wyoming, Oregon, Vermont, and Texas

b. Bad states: Wisconsin, South Carolina

6) Ugly states: New Hampshire, Washington. New Hampshire is the worst by far! Consider going to Vermont or Maine before attempting this one! I can almost promise delays and frustration! Once you do finally get a license there, it’s beautiful year round.

7) Keep your pistols loaded: Have envelopes, stamps, and pre-written letters on your computer. Pull the file, change the date, print, then send – prevent delays from having to stop to buy supplies. Time can be valuable when you begin the licensure process.

8) Use on-line services for transcripts, verifications, exam scores, etc. whenever possible.

9) Expect delays and account for them BEFORE they start! Be persistent but “nice”!

When just starting, it seems like a endless mountain to climb. But it gets easier as you streamline your system. Obviously the more states you travel to, the more verifications you will need to request when applying for a new state. Verifications for me range from $10 to $50. With 11 of them required (and counting!) this can add up quickly.

Good luck and TRAVEL ON!

Wes Herdlein is a Traveling PT and Founder of HealthcareTravelbook.com

Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide: Step 14 – Creating a super resume

super heroAt this stage of the process of finding a travel physical therapist job you will be asked to submit your resume. If you don’t have a resume some travel physical therapy companies will write or rewrite it for you using information you provided them, either in your application or a pre-existing resume you have.

Having a great resume is vital for you as a travel physical therapist so that you will stand out as the best candidate and can get the job you want. The way a resume looks is important, but what is more important is the content, so don’t get too caught up in the style, fonts or colors. In fact your recruiter may change it too match the companies format anyway. That is why it is important for you take the time to make sure you have the best resume around. To do that you want to:

1. Make sure it is accurate
2. Spell check
3. Include:

  • All certifications
  • All licensures
  • Job duties and clinical areas you focused on
  • Types of patients you work with
  • Locations of previous work history
  • Complete start and stop dates 
  • Job type (travel assignment, perm, PRN, contract)
  • All degrees you may hold
  • Locations of any school/college you attended
  • Dates you attended those schools
  • Any awards or achievements you have earned
  • Keywords that standout when your resume is scanned by either a hiring manager or a search engine

The company you are working with should have lots of insight into what hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are looking for in a resume so make sure to ask them if there is anything you can do to enhance yours. Some items you will also want to include are things like volunteer experience you have and associations you belong to. Including a summary of qualifications is also a good idea since it can give a hiring manager looking at your resume an easy overview of why they should hire you.

Make sure to list all the relevant positions you have worked in. Let your recruiter decided how far back to go in your history because you don’t know how that older position might lead to you getting the job.

The best thing you can do for your resume is pay attention to the details and be thorough. So do that and you will have a great travel physical therapy resume.

Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide: Step 13 – Completing a skills checklist

travel physical therapistDuring this stage of the travel physical therapy process you will start to work with your recruiter to find your position. How this process is handled can change based on the company you work with. Some companies are structured so that your recruiter also contacts the hospital, skilled nursing facility or home health agency directly, while in other travel physical therapy companies those duties are split allowing for more focus and better customer service.

No matter which way your company is structured you will most likely be asked to complete a skills checklist so your recruiter can determine your skill set and comfort with different clinical environments. Which will enable them to find you the travel physical therapy job that matches your abilities and focus. Although some of these can be long, they are no reason to stress. The key is to be honest so that you are matched in the job that is going to be the best fit for you, because nothing is going to give you a bad experience as a traveler more than a job that you don’t feel comfortable in.

Here are some tips to remember when you are completing a skills checklist:

  • Slow Down – Set aside a time when you can slow down and take your time. If you hurry through it you could miss something and have to to go back to complete it later or more annoying, you could have to do it again.
  • Relax – These are not a test. Just be honest with yourself (and your company) with your experience and skill level and you will be fine. A skills checklist that is an honest assessment (even with some areas not as strong as you would like) is better for all involved than one that may be a bit over zealous and provides the wrong information to a facility.
  • Keep Improving – Just because you fill out a skills checklist once doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always be expanding your skills and clinical areas you can work in. It will make you a better and more marketable travel physical therapist so try to branch out a little at each assignment and when you have new skills to add be sure to complete another checklist so your recruiter has it on hand for your next assignment.

Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide: Step 12 – How do you interview your recruiter?

Earlier in the Travel Therapy Career Guide we talked about what traits you should look for in a travel physical therapy recruiter. In this section we will go over some ways to make sure you find the right one for you. A recruiter is many time the face of the company to travelers, which means that a bad experience with a recruiter could easily sour you to an entire company. This makes doing your research to find a good one that  you trust so important.

interview in progress signReferrals

One of the easiest ways to do this is to be referred to a good one. Nothing speaks better about what kind of service you can expect than what another traveling PT tells you about their recruiter. So ask around. Having the name of a recruiter at a travel physical therapy company also helps ensures that you will be to work with that recruiter when you call in, otherwise you will be assigned a recruiter that you may or may not hit it off with.

Reviews

There are a couple of sites that you could visit to try and get information on specific recruiters like forums like Delphi or UltimateNurse.com, but that is probably going to be pretty hit or miss. One site that does offer it as a feature of their site is Healthcare Travelbook.com, but you need an account to see them.

Calling In

Whether you have a referral or are just talking to a recruiter who has been assigned to you it is important that when you first talk to them that you take the time to interview them too.

When you first  call in the recruiter should be not only gathering career information and goals from you, but they should also be trying to build a relationship with you. You will be trusting this person with your most valuable asset, your career, so it is vital that you trust them.

So now at this point it is time for you to ask them some questions:

  1. How long have you been working in the travel therapy industry?
  2. How many years have you been a recruiter?
  3. Will you be my recruiter the whole time I work with your company?
  4. How many travel PTs or PTAs do you work with currently?
  5. What is the maximum number of physical therapists you are allowed to work with? Or what is your company’s max desk level?
  6. What is the standard traveler to recruiter ratio at your company?
  7. Tell me something about yourself and your background? Where did you go to college? Do you have pets? Etc.
  8. How often will I talk to you?
  9. How will you to contact me? Email? Phone? Text? Facebook? Etc.
  10. What makes you better than the other recruiters I am talking to?
  11. What do you to help your travel PTs succeed?
  12. Why do you work for this travel physical therapy company? What do you like about it? Dislike? Anything you would change? 
  13. What’s your favorite song? Movie? Book?

A final point to remember when talking to a recruiter is to find out if he or she will be your recruiter the whole time you work with that company. Different companies are structured differently so with some companies you will have the same recruiter the whole time you work with that company while others are split up by region so depending on where you work you may end up with a different recruiter.

This may be the most vital element of your success and experience as a traveling physical therapist so be sure to put the time in to make sure you do your due diligence when choosing your recruiter.

Strangers are friends you have yet to meet – Part II

Last week I gave suggestions on the best ways to go about making friends around the workplace as well as outside of work. Today we will expand on that idea and give you a few more ways to help you break the ice with either your new co-workers and those you will encounter outside of work. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself, be comfortable with who you are and show confidence in the way you carry yourself. If you make yourself open and approachable to others, you will have a far better chance at making new friends.

Last week I gave suggestions on the best ways to go about making friends around the workplace as well as outside of work. Today we will expand on that idea and give you a few more ways to help you break the ice with either your new co-workers and those you will encounter outside of work. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself, be comfortable with who you are and show confidence in the way you carry yourself. If you make yourself open and approachable to others, you will have a far better chance at making new friends.

Finding commonality is key in starting a relationship, whether friendly or romantic. Finding those few things you share an interest in can take you a long way. Perhaps your workplace has different groups or clubs you could belong to that appeals to you, such as a biking group or book club. You could volunteer for any of your organizations philanthropy initiatives or start your own group. Finding coworkers with similar interests guarantees that you have something to bond over that’s not just work.

Outside of work you may find it easier to find different groups and clubs to look into to. No matter what city your travel therapy job takes you to, you will certainly find others with common interests. Finding smaller pools of people also allows you to interact with people in a closer, more personal way.

If you’ve tried everything I’ve previously mentioned and nothing is happening… Try taking matters into your own hands. Spread the word around the workplace about meeting after work for some happy hour beverages, organize a pot-luck lunch or try and start your own recurring group activities like a poker night or something to that affect. Any reason to get you and your cohorts away from the job and doing something fun.

If the various social settings are doing nothing for you, there are still other alternatives. Depending on the size of the city your living in while on a short-term therapy contract you can search the internet for local sites, you can even check the tried and true, Craigslist.org. Another good way to meet folks are dating sites, sure it’s more for meeting significant others but can also be a great avenue to make connections.

Sure making friends isn’t as easy as it was when we were growing up, but all you need is just that one friend to get the ball rolling. Remember, most people are just like yourself and may be timid to approach others, but if you make an effort you’ll be surprised at just how friendly people really are.

Here’s a link to first part of the series on ‘Strangers are Friends You Have Yet to Meet.’

Podcasts for PTs on short-term assignments close to home

travel physical therapist listening to a podcastA common misconception about travel physical therapy is that you have to work far from home in a new city, but actually a lot of travel PTs prefer to work short-term contracts close to home so they can make more money, but stay close to their families.

If you are one of these more local traveling physical therapists then you know how annoying it can be to sit stuck in traffic on the way to work or an in-home visit. Why not use that time to improve your skills and knowledge by listening to physical therapy podcasts.

Here is a page where he have provided links to all the Physical Therapy podcasts that are available.