Your Travel Therapy Career Guide: Step-by-Step

Have you ever wondered how you even get started down taking a travel therapy job? Or how to choose a Recruiter? Or how Per Diem works? 

If so, then be sure to read an extensive series of posts we will soon be starting called “Your Travel Therapy Career Guide: Step-by-Step” that will take you through a detailed outline of the process of starting a travel rehab career. It will be a broad overview that applies to all the therapists that make up the Rehab and Therapy readers (PT, PTA, OT, COTA and SLP), but detailed enough to answer all your questions about the process.

The goal is to take some of the hesitation away from those of you have questions about how this career path works. So be sure to give your feedback as we go.

Enjoy the drive to your travel therapy job!

A lot of travel therapists choose to stay close to home and take a local short-term contract instead of a more traditional travel therapy assignment in a new city, which lets them stay close to their friends and family. But for those that choose to take a 13 week travel therapy assignment in a new city the great the travel therapy road trip awaits them.

A road trip in the model of a college road trip to your travel therapy job is probably not a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be one of the best parts of your assignment. With a little time and planning your road trip can be full of adventure, stories and cheesy tourist traps.

Here are two road trip resources we have found for you to plan your trip.

Road Trip, which offers tools like:

  • A Fuel Cost Calculator
  • The Great American Road Trip Forum
  • Routes, Destinations, Events & Road Food Articles
  • Equipment, Driving & Preparation Tips
  • Book & Map Recommendations and Audio Book Reviews
  • Links to the Best Web Resources
  • Tips for Renting an RV & Planning an RV Vacation
  • Point, Click and Drive! – A collection of web based automated road trip planning programs
  • And, Caution: Funny Signs Ahead

And that provides:

  • Articles
  • Car camping
  • Gear
  • Games
  • Road trip planner
  • Driving directions

So don’t miss out on one of the best parts of a travel therapy assignment, take the time to have an awesome road trip.

Interview your recruiter

One of the key things you will discover during your travel therapy career is that your recruiter is going to be a big part of your life from now on (or at least while you are traveling). They will help you find a job, housing, and basically just be there for you when you need them. Because of this, it is important that you are comfortable with them and trust them. So when you are talking to them take the time to interview them as well.

Here is a checklist of questions you can ask to get to know them better:

  • How long have you been in the industry?
  • How long have you been a recruiter?
  • Will you be my recruiter the whole time I travel with your company?
  • How many travelers do you work with currently?
  • What is the traveler to recruiter ratio at your company?
  • How many travelers are you allowed to work with?
  • Tell me about yourself? Where did you go to college? Where are you from? Etc.
  • How often will I hear from you?
  • How will I hear from you? Email? Phone? Text? Etc.
  • What makes you different than other recruiters?
  • What do you do to help your travelers succeed?
  • Why do you work for this company?
  • What do you like about your company? Dislike?
  • What’s your sign?

Remember, don’t be shy. This is your therpay career you are partially putting in their hands so it is important you are comfortable with the relationship.

9 tips for writing your resume for your therapy career

In a competitive job market a well written and smartly constructed resume is crucial. As a speech language, physical or occupational therapist or therapist assistant your resume has a few industry specific things it should have that will help you or your therapy staffing company find you the best short-term / travel therapy jobs available. Here is a quick overview that should help you build a resume that will get you the job you want.

1. Do your research
Take the time to look through job descriptions online and see what skills, experience, credentials and characteristics they are looking for in a candidate. This will help you take stock of where you are in relation and what areas you are strong in and what areas you need to improve in. This also helps you cater your resume to the current needs of the industry and highlight them prominently on your resume.
2. Sum up your strengths
A summary of your qualifications that includes your biggest strengths and best qualifications should be the first thing (other than your name and contact info) on your resume. Some things to include are your degrees, certifications, your years of experience, specialty expertise, and the types of patients you have worked with in the past or personality traits.

3. Look at your resume from an employer’s point of view
An employer, whether it is a hospital, skilled nursing facility or travel therapy staffing company, is going to want to see not only what you have done at your past jobs, but how well you did them. So make sure to highlight areas where you made contributions and list specific results as often as you can.

4. Be detailed
This is especially important in the work history area of your resume. Some examples of things to include are:

• The types of settings you worked in
• Examples of success with patients
• The type of caseloads you handled
• The kinds of treatments and modalities you have experience with
• Any overall program improvements you had a part in
• Any recognition or performance awards you have received

5. Be accurate
Typos or inaccuracies in your resume can be the death sentence of your job search. So take the extra time to proofread and spell check. One good way to do this is to finish it up and revisit a week later. This way you will see things that your mind can subconsciously overlook if you edit too soon after writing. And of course have someone else look over it.

6. Show your passion for the field
Including any volunteering or associations you are a part of is an easy way to show that therapy is more than a paycheck for you. It is also a great way to develop and show off any skills, such as leadership and management, that you may not get to develop in your full-time position.

7. Use industry keywords
If your resume is going to be in a resume database, like Monster or CareerBuilder or, then including a wide variety of industry keywords that an employer searching through the resumes would look for is important. So for instance you would not want to use PT through the whole thing and not mention Physical Therapist. You need to have the keywords in there that an employer is going to use, so again researching the way they are writing job ads will help here.

8. Be targeted
If you are submitting your resume to a travel therapy company they can help focus it for you for a short-term or travel therapy position, but as a general rule each resume you write should be targeted for that position. It doesn’t take long and will help your resume stand out.

9. Use the 15-second review
An employer will have a lot of resumes to look through so you only get about 10-20 seconds for yours to stand out and entice them to read more. You can do that by using this little checklist:

  • Is your resume clean, easy to read and follow and does it invite the employer to read it?
  • Does it have a good summary of qualifications that targets the position you want?
  • Are your accomplishments described in detail in the work history?
  • Do you have keywords and phrases used throughout the document.
  • Do you list your work history in an easy to read, yet detailed, style with a through description of your jobs in the last 10-15 years and a more condensed style for the jobs 15 years or older?
  • Do you have a section that highlights your education, professional development (workshops, seminars, or other job related training), and other professional certifications, publications, etc.?
  • Do you lay out your clinical skills and background in an easy to scan format?

Remember that a good resume is the most basic, but most important part of your job search and needs to be a true indication of your skills, so follow these tips and don’t over or understate what you have done in your therapy career.

Back to school! Internship time

therapy internship

It is that time of year again, college is starting back up, which means many of you will be starting in on your clinical internships. Your internship lets you experience clinical opportunities gain experience in your area, such as acute care, neurologic rehabilitation, sports medicine, geriatrics, etc.

Having that kind of experience can be a huge difference maker when employers are looking at the resumes of pt, pta, ot, cota and slp candidates. With all else being equal, employers, both for perm positions or travel therapy jobs, are going to look at what kind of experience you have, what you did at your internship and what you did to go beyond the basic requirements.

I ran across this blog post about the clinical education of PTs this morning and how it is flawed by Johnnie May at the Physical Therapist Rover blog and wondered what you thought about it. The post is a little old, but what about you current therapists, do you feel like you got the best learning experience from your clinical internships? What would you change?

Your one chance to make a good impression.

Life of a traveling therapist is a bit different than that of a traveling nurse. The hours, the workload and even the workplace all differ from one another, but there is one aspect of the traveling career that both share. Obviously you’re changing locations rather frequently and you’re meeting all kinds of new people and you have to able to adapt rather quickly. So what do you think these new faces think of you when you first walk in the door?

Your appearance, demeanor, the sound of your voice and ability to empathize all play a major role in your professional image. If the way you carry yourself becomes an issue shortly after your arrival to your new travel therapy job, well expect a long and arduous assignment. In order to ensure that your transition into these new assignments goes swimmingly, might I suggest some areas to work on to improve your professional image.

  • Professional work atmosphere and interactions
  • General appearance
  • Cooperation and team mentality
  • Professional responsibility

Being the new kid on the block is never the easiest thing. All you want is the respect of your peers and there are a few things to keep in mind while on assignment. If a situation arises in which you have an opinion about a work situation or even personal issues, be sure and remove yourself from those who may be within earshot. Also, make sure to you don’t exhibit any questionable behavior in front of them. Besides respecting peers and their space, you must also show your respect towards the facility and its contents. You are a healthcare professional and your care doesn’t always have to be aimed at the patients, you can apply this to your surroundings as well.

So what’s the first thing people notice when you walk into a room? If you guessed what you’re wearing or how you look, you’re probably right. Your appearance greatly affects the way your skills are perceived, undoubtedly. You have a respectable profession, so act and dress like it. Wear what you think would be appropriate to any age