Traveler Stories June 29, 2021

Traveling CT Technologist Enjoys Small Town Assignments

By Joseph Duffy, contributor

Registered CT technologist Pam Buttke, RT(R)(CT), became a healthcare traveler in 2017 after working full-time in her field for close to 17 years.

In 2001, she attended the x-ray technologist program at Midlands Technical College in South Carolina. Pam earned her associate degree in health science with a specialization in radiology. During the program, Pam first heard about allied health travel. She was intrigued by the idea, but her children were young, so she made it a long-term goal.

She later cross-trained in CAT scan and took a national registry exam, earning the title of computed tomography (CT) technologist. Her full-time experience was spent working in hospitals, including a Level 1 trauma hospital and Providence Heart Hospital, both in Columbia, South Carolina.

The right time to try allied travel

In 2017, Pam realized that her full-time position offered no advancement opportunities. So, she talked to her now-adult children about the possibility of becoming an allied health traveler.

"I talked to my kids about traveling, and they told me to go for it and that they'd come and visit me wherever I went," Pam said. "And now that I'm a traveler, that's exactly what they do – they come and visit me when I'm on assignment."

Choosing an allied health travel company was easy for Pam. She said Club Staffing, a company of AMN Healthcare, was the first staffing agency to get in touch with her when she started her search.

"I have to give a super huge shoutout to my Club Staffing recruiter, Stephen Sweeney," Pam said. "He is fantastic. I feel like he could be my brother. And without the support of my wife and family, this would be very stressful. It's not just hard on the traveler — it's hard on the family back home as well."

And Stephen is just as happy to have Pam as one of his CT tech travelers.

"Pam has been traveling with us for many years," Stephen said. "I inherited her from my mentor. She and I hit it off right away. She always goes the extra mile for AMN/Club Staffing, and facilities ask for her to return. Pam is one of the kindest people."

Stephen may not be family, but he is in the business of helping traveling families to succeed. Pam's daughter, Stephanie, is a nuclear medicine technologist and a CT technologist. Later this month, she starts her first travel assignment in Salem, Massachusetts, with Stephen as her recruiter.

"This is so exciting for me," Pam said. "My daughter and I are looking forward to eventually traveling on assignment together to Alaska."

Traveling with Club Staffing

Pam's first assignment with Club Staffing was in Margaretville, New York, a quaint, vibrant village nestled in the beautiful Catskill Mountains. She enjoyed its beauty and down-to-earth people.

"It was like one big happy family in Margaretville," Pam said. "Everybody knew everybody."

Out of the 10 travel CT assignments she's had with Club Staffing, her current job at Ohio State University's Level I trauma center has been her best experience so far. She said the technology available at the university is unmatched by anywhere she's been.

She also enjoyed working at Trident Hospital in North Charleston, South Carolina, where she has completed two assignments.

"I remember the manager of Trident calling me sometime after my first assignment to see if I was still traveling," Pam said. "I called Stephen to let him know, and I ended up going back there. It made me feel very good that they remembered me."

When it comes to travel locations, Buffalo, New York, tops her list. She was on assignment there in the dead of winter and was in awe of a snow-covered Niagara Falls.

Future travel assignments

Along with the possibility of having her daughter join her for an assignment, Pam said that her wife, Lisa, is an x-ray technologist. Perhaps, Pam, Lisa, and Stephanie will find themselves on a travel assignment together.

Pam wants to continue traveling because she loves seeing new small-town locations and participating in local activities, such as farmers’ markets and festivals.

"When you live somewhere for an extended period, you start taking things for granted," she said. "When I'm on assignment, I try to learn and enjoy my new surroundings by asking co-workers about their hometown. When I do, they get excited about what they do have in their area all over again."

While on a travel assignment, she also enjoys discovering different CT techniques.

"Everywhere I go, even when doing a CAT scan, you find that every place is different in some way," she said. "There are different protocols and different ways of doing everything. It's important as a traveler to always remember that and to respect how they do things. One of my quotes that I tell new travelers is: 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.'"

Pam feels she has been successful as an allied health traveler because she is open to new ways of doing procedures. She has found that if you show the desire to learn from co-workers in a new location, they usually end up asking you how you would have done something. And then you find yourself being the teacher.

"I never force my experience on anyone," she said. "I let people at my new assignments learn from my actions and answer any questions they might have."

Related:

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