5 Reasons to Be a Healthcare Traveler in 2023
Chicago. Hawaii. Nashville. New York City. So many cultural capitals to see and, if you work in healthcare, so little time to travel. But you can take charge of your schedule—and see all the sights on your bucket list—by launching a travel health career.
Travel healthcare is an itinerant occupation that offers nomad-like freedom with nationwide job security. And if that alone doesn’t pique your interest, keep reading for 5 reasons why you should consider becoming a healthcare traveler this year.
An Overview of Healthcare Travel
What does it mean to be a traveler? Put simply, a travel health professional is a free agent, contracted by a staffing company, that fills in for a set period of time at health facilities all over the country.
The length and terms of each assignment are usually set by the hiring facility, while pay and benefits are negotiated through the staffing company. However, it’s the travel healthcare professional who decides which assignments to take, where to travel, and when to take a break.
Maybe you’ve heard mixed reviews about leading a life on the road. But when it comes to the healthcare industry, it’s hard to beat the perks of traveling, even with the downside of constant relocation.
Why Become a Healthcare Traveler? 5 Good Reasons
Ask any seasoned traveler and they’ll likely have a dozen reasons why you should consider travel health. But in general, the following 5 tend to be universally motivating.
1. You’ll Get to Explore New Places
Perhaps the most salient perk of travel healthcare is the unique opportunity to roam the country. Where else can you use your healthcare license to satisfy your wanderlust?
Travel healthcare jobs are cropping up all across the country, in the contiguous US as well as Alaska and Hawaii. The nationwide staffing shortage—and the high demand it’s placed on temporary workers—mean there are opportunities to work nearly anywhere, and depending on your profession you may have thousands of openings each day from which to choose.
Granted, you’ll be in your dream locale primarily on business, but even with your bustling work schedule, you’ll always have a few days off each week to take short day trips, go sightseeing, and enjoy your new city like a true local. Plus, unlike on a normal vacation, you’ll be earning money—but more on that next.
2. You’ll Have Higher Earning Potential
Another major reason to consider travel healthcare is the higher salary it often brings. A traveler’s pay package typically comprises an hourly wage, a housing stipend, and allowable reimbursements for travel expenses. Of these three, you’d only pay taxes on your wages. So depending on the allocation of your pay and stipends/reimbursements, you may enjoy a hefty tax break in addition to subsidized living expenses.
It’s important to keep in mind that you may have to forgo the housing and travel stipends if you choose an assignment that’s close enough for you to commute to from your residence. Still, hospitals and other facilities are usually happy to pay traveling health professionals a higher salary, so your base rate will likely be a slight bump over what you’d get as a permanent staff member.
For many travelers, the pay raise alone is reason enough for sustaining a peripatetic lifestyle, even for just a few years. Especially if you have student loans to pay, setting aside some time for traveling could help you pay down debt and free up your money for other financial goals.
3. You’ll Get a Change of Pace
There’s nothing wrong with settling down and taking a permanent staff position at a hospital or clinic. But over time, you may become too settled, as the humdrum of workplace monotony takes the wind out of your sails.
If you have no other obligations tying you down, then a traveling career may provide a welcome change of pace. Besides leading you to new locations, a travel career can spur your professional growth in different specialties and help you develop valuable clinical skills.
Don’t risk burning out at your permanent clinic position. Consider what a revolving door of healthcare opportunities could do for your morale. As you travel and encounter various professionals, patient demographics, and clinical settings, you may find your love for healthcare reinvigorated and refreshed by a stint in traveling.
4. You’ll Have More Scheduling Flexibility
Ordinarily, medical care providers operate under a stiff schedule. But as a traveler, you’ll have more agency in determining when and for how long you work. While most assignments average 13 weeks in length, you may have the option to renew your contract to lengthen your stay, or you may decide to push back another assignment to create more vacation time.
As a traveler, you’re not limited to a few weeks of vacation each year, as in some workplaces. Imagine how nice it’ll be to spend a month backpacking the Appalachian trail in between assignments, or how you’ll enjoy helping your sister with her newborn for a couple of weeks obligation-free.
5. You’ll Love it
Once you start traveling, you may never look back. If it suits your lifestyle, you’ll love the flexibility, variability, and earning potential of a traveling healthcare career.
Myriads of healthcare professionals have already made the switch to traveling. As you begin your first contract, you’ll find countless resources online from fellow travelers on what to expect, how to make the most of your time on the road, and even how to negotiate a pay package in your favor.
Besides the companionship you’ll find on social media, you’ll always have the support of a recruiter or consultant assigned to you by the staffing company you chose. A recruiter can help you find enviable placements, nail your interviews, complete your paperwork, soar through relicensing red tape, settle your new location, and even navigate workplace issues. The 24/7 support of a reputable care team will help you not just survive the ups and downs of traveling but truly enjoy the ride.
A travel career is too good to overlook if you thrive on change and love to mix things up. With travel healthcare, you don’t have to put your dreams of travel on hold while you put in long hours at the clinic or hospital. You can further your career, learn new skills, and explore sought-after cities all at once.
Whether you want to travel for just a short time or make the switch indefinitely, there’s little to lose—so why not give traveling a try?
Tim Fraticelli is a Physical Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™, and founder of PTProgress.com. He loves to teach PTs and OTs ways to save time and money in and out of the clinic, especially when it comes to therapy documentation or continuing education for therapists. Follow him on YouTube for weekly videos on ways to improve your physical and financial health.