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Six myths about traveling physical therapy

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bigfootThere are some sommon myths out there about the quality of jobs available to travel PTs. Let’s take a quick look at each one.

Travel Physical Therapy Myth 1 – You only work in the worst locations

One of them is that traveling physical therapy jobs are available for a reason, which means they are in undesirable locations that no one could possibly want to work in. One fourm post I saw on this recently went like this:

“You will get assignment in the least desirable areas, where most PT don’t want to work consistently.  There are reasons in places where most PT wouldn’t want to work.” See the whole discussion here.

The fact is most open physical therapy jobs, permanent or contract exist because there is a shortage of physical therapists thanks to an aging baby boomer population and the number of PTs coming out of school just can’t keep up with the demand, not because it is a less exciting location.

Travel Physical Therapy Myth 2 – You will have too high of a workload

Now the workload of the facility may in fact be more, but that is why they need a traveler. As soon as you get there it will go down right? The truth is that often a traveler is just being used during times when a perm staff is out for an extended period of time, like maternity leave or the hospital or skilled nursing facility has just seen a temporary rise in patient levels and know they do not need to hire a permanent PT or PTA to cover the increase since it will be short-lived.

Travel Physical Therapy Myth 3 – You will not get paid well

As far as pay goes the fact is the pay for traveling physical therapists and pay for traveling physical therapists assistant is in most cases more than (with equal or better benefits) to a permanent position.

Travel Physical Therapy Myth 4 – You have to work miles from home

There are open Physical Therapy jobs all over the country and you only take assignments you want to go, traveling physical therapy companies can’t just send you to an assignment and force you to work there. It is entirely up to you where you go. So the chances of finding great contract jobs in your area are very good.

Travel Physical Therapy Myth 5 – You have to sign a year long contract

Most travel therapy companies only require you to sign a contract for the assignment you are on, after the assignment is over you can do whatever you want, sign on for another contract, go back to a perm position, start your own practice, go hike for a year, whatever. It is up to you.

Travel Physical Therapy Myth 6 – You can only work 13 week contracts

The typical assignment length is 13 weeks, but that is more based on tradition and habit than need and many facilities would actually prefer longer contracts for traveling PTs. In fact some can last as long as a year, it just depends on each situation, but 13 weeks is not a hard and fast rule.



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About the Author

My name is Jeff Long. I’m the Marketing Manager at Medical Solutions. I am not a physical therapist (I have been a physical therapy patient plenty though) and am not a recruiter. I have worked at Medical Solutions for four years and think it is a great travel physical therapy company that has a lot to offer physical therapists and PTAs interested in a travel career. I do post travel physical therapy jobs from Medical Solutions on this site, and write about travel physical therapy, but you will not be recruited on this blog (unless you specifically inquire about traveling with Medical Solutions then I will forward your info to a Career Consultant). I understand that you are reading and/or commenting on this blog purely for informational purposes and I want you to enjoy that experience My job is to help you meet your career goals by sharing information, advice and the benefits of a travel therapy career with you.

Comments (2)

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  1. sheila sparks says:

    Hey Mark,
    Question for ya before I proceed with asking you info about your company. As a traveling O.T. I would like to know how the health insurance works. For example, if you take an assignment and then you need say, 3 weeks off before the next assignment…. are you insured in the interim? Do you still have the same coverage/plan etc.? Do you just pay more the months you are not on assignment?

    Thanks for any advice
    Sheila Sparks, O.T. Knoxville, TN

  2. Jeff says:

    Hi Sheila,

    Here are some things to remember in regards to your question:

    At most companies, insurance coverage runs to the end of the month. That will cover some issues.
    If a company knows that a new assignment is starting, they can continue coverage and take premiums for that interim time on the current assignment.

    If the time off is too long or the company does not have an assignment at the end date of the assignment, the traveler can COBRA for the interim and not have any lapse of coverage.

    As far plans go, the traveler (at most companies) will have the opportunity before starting each assignment, to change coverage if desired or of course to keep the same.

    Also, pricing is the same for COBRA, and the only premium adjustments ever made at companies should be during the open enrollment period once each year.
    If a company is covering the traveler in between assignments, then it would be the same throughout.

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