Travel or Career? Occupational Therapist Chooses Both
Many young college graduates choose to take time off for travel before they return home to the realities of work, and their education and travel bills. But a few are fortunate enough to find a career that allows them to make a good living while they travel around the country and abroad—when and where they want
John Reedy, MS, OTR/L, counts himself among the fortunate few, working as an allied healthcare traveler with Club Staffing. Two of the things he enjoys most about his occupational therapy travel career: the ability to choose interesting places for his work and the chance to take time off between assignments, without losing medical benefits. He has traveled domestically and also to China, Japan and Thailand.
Telling his allied travel story
Reedy had recently returned from overseas when he saw that Club Staffing was offering prizes to allied healthcare travelers who shared their stories.
“I was having my morning coffee and thought, ‘Well, if they like it I’ll win, and if not, I’ll just enjoy my coffee,” he remembered. He subsequently won the $100 prize in February and is now entered to win a $5,000 prize.
In his submission, he wrote:
“I will just brag about my time as a traveler and the life it has afforded me these past years. Currently, I am waiting for my next contract to start after my two-month hiatus to Thailand. I’m thankful my career as a traveler has helped me see breathtaking mountains, oceans, hike, experience great nature, cross the ocean for fun, experience deserts and glaciers.
As a kid growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., to a working-class family, I never imagined I would be able to mountain bike across the western slope of Colorado, snowboard down giant mountains, buy a motorcycle for the expansive Midwest highways or afford to go to foreign countries such as China and see coasts unknown.
I was able to not only travel but save money and afford a living wage when many of my friends were struggling to pay rent. I can only urge anyone that is reading that has a desire to travel to think about what you wish and seize an opportunity.”
Seizing the career, lifestyle and financial benefits
Reedy chose to pursue a career as an occupational therapist after seeing a poster advertising the career that said, “Living Life to the Fullest.” That philosophy appealed to him—for him and his patients. He was also interested to learn about the human nervous system and the different technologies used in the field.
It wasn’t long before he finished his education and started on his travel therapy career. On his 23rd birthday, he was already under contract as an allied traveler, had his car packed and was ready to drive west.
“As a traveler, I’ve learned about getting out more and trying new things. I never expected to get into mountain biking or meet the people I have. I’ve also learned about responsibility. Some of my friends are still paying off loans and living at home. Being a traveler helps with ‘adulting,’” he laughed. “But I also try not to ‘adult’ too hard—basically I’m just a hippie with a paycheck.”
Reedy has primarily taken his travel OT jobs in Colorado.
“I loved living on the Western Slope of Colorado—it is full of lots of small towns where people will talk to you and you can get some cool pictures. Colorado Springs was great because you have the mountain view and everyone is pretty active. I could go mountain biking one day and skiing the next. I also did some training in Savannah, Georgia, and that was gorgeous,” he remarked.
Reedy says he’d like to have assignments in Seattle or another Northwest city, and in the Southeast, perhaps in Tennessee or New Orleans, before he transitions out of traveling.
One of the benefits of having a series of 13-week OT jobs is that it has helped him to discover the work setting he most enjoys.
“I think my ideal job is doing hospital rehabilitation for neurological conditions. I’ve also worked in ambulatory and long-term care,” he noted. “I’ve also found that the ‘daily grind’ is much less of a grind when I’m working somewhere new!”
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