Speech Pathologist Traveler Connects with People & Places
By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are a critical part of the care team for patients recovering from a variety of issues including strokes, brain injuries and other traumas. And when this discipline is temporarily understaffed, travel SLPs can step in to help hospitals and clinics treat patients and support the continuum of care.
The allied travel lifestyle also affords some unique opportunities for travel clinicians.
Nicole Kalkhoff, SLP, has been a speech therapist for over five years and a traveler for just under a year, working with Club Staffing. She has worked in a variety of adult care settings including rehabilitation, acute care and outpatient.
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Growing professionally and personally
“I love helping my patients and seeing them improve,” Kalkhoff said. “I do a lot of work with swallowing, language, speech and cognitive impairment. Traveling has allowed me to transition to new practice settings and different types of facilities than I’ve worked at in the past. I’ve been able to learn the cultures of different units and the cultures of the locations.”
She was even able to pick up a bit of conversational Spanish from her patients during her last assignment in southern Texas.
After working as a permanent staff member at facilities in Colorado, Kalkhoff finally worked up the courage to try an allied health travel career--something she thought about for a long time.
“I wanted to travel because I thought it would be a great opportunity to see more areas and also see different clinical settings. I wanted to see how different facilities were run and it was the perfect time in my life to get paid to travel!”
The variety of locations for her speech pathologist jobs keeps life interesting; she’s been able to relax in Minnesota’s lake country and live it up with big city life in San Antonio. In the past year, she has traveled to Texas, Colorado, Minnesota and Arkansas, and she hopes to make it out to California, Massachusetts or another coastal location on one of her next assignments.
Making meaningful connections
Regardless of where she travels, Kalkhoff loves to explore each new city and make long-lasting friends.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I have come away with at least one friend that I keep in touch with, along with multiple professional contacts from the different locations. I was actually able to travel with a traveler friend during my assignment with Club Staffing in San Antonio. They were able to place us together, which was awesome.”
Like many of her fellow travelers, Kalkhoff credits her recruiter with helping to make her traveling SLP career so successful.
“Meg, my recruiter, has been amazing. She’s been one of the most supportive recruiters that I’ve ever met. She’s pretty much ‘Johnny-on-the-spot” with anything that I need. As travelers, it is primarily the recruiter that we work with and Meg has been great with communicating.”
Contact a Club Staffing recruiter to learn about travel careers.
Finding support and work/life balance
When she’s not working with patients, this traveling speech pathologist enjoys baking and spending time outdoors and near the water.
“Club Staffing is really supportive in terms of getting me the hours that I needed, helping me with moving expenses and contacting the facility as I was getting ready to start,” she concluded. “It’s been a really good experience.”
For those thinking about a career as a traveling SLP, Nicole has one piece of advice: “Just go for it!”
“It took me a long time to make the decision to start traveling, but it is awesome! I learn so much, I meet so many people, and I see so many new places.”
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