The Joy of Travel Occupational Therapy
By Joan Fox Rose, MA, RN, contributor
Combining her long-held career ambition with her love of travel has been a dream come true for Kathryn (Katie) Elmore, MS, OTR/L. She knew she wanted to be an occupational therapist in high school, and while completing college fieldwork at a sensory integration clinic she decided to work with children.
After graduating, Elmore chose to work as a new grad travel therapist with Onward Healthcare before it merged with Club Staffing, an AMN Healthcare company that places allied healthcare professionals in travel assignments across the country. She’s continued to work with the same recruiter, and is currently completing an assignment for the Idaho-based Coeur D’Alene School District.
“Working with kids in a school system is my passion,” she said. “Seeing their growth and knowing how hard they work is amazing. Teachers, therapists and aides are awesome because they literally shape kids’ lives, making them into remarkable individuals who are proud of themselves and their work.”
First assignment lessons
Elmore recalled that her first assignment in a small Ohio town was memorable. She was excited to start her travel occupational therapist career, but instead of taking the free, company-provided housing, she chose the housing stipend and leased her own apartment. She soon realized she should have spent more time checking it out: the apartment was dirty and had a foul smell. In fact, it was so bad that she decided not to move in, but was denied a refund of her deposit because she’d signed a three-month lease.
Other housing was not available, so for the next two weeks she stayed at a reputable motel and drove home to Cleveland on weekends before being reassigned to another OT job. “As my recruiter pointed out, there’s a new assignment always waiting around the corner.” Elmore still likes to pick her own housing, but on subsequent assignments has made sure to spend more time researching places to live.
An unforgettable encounter
During her second travel occupational therapy job in another Ohio town, Elmore reports that she had the most fulfilling professional and personal experience of her career.
“While assigned to a skilled nursing facility, I met a patient diagnosed with terminal cancer and shared my experience of losing my mother due to cancer with her,” she said. “I could tell this woman was not only sympathetic but appreciative, and knew I was able to relate to her and her story. Sharing my life experiences and faith in God made a huge impact on her and tended to brighten her outlook for the remainder of her life. After she died, I realized meeting this wonderful person and becoming her friend is one of the greatest experiences that travel has given me.”
Time for personal passions
This caring occupational therapist is also a body builder and fitness enthusiast who enjoys pursuing her passion during her time off. In fact, Elmore competed in a bikini competition entitled Night of Champions in Spokane, Wash., in October 2015; she won fourth place. “Becoming a body builder and competing in shows has been a life-changing experience,” she said. “Through these experiences I’ve gained a greater appreciation of myself and the sport of body building. There’s no better way to live life than to immerse yourself in things you love to do.”
“I love traveling with Club Staffing mainly due to the efforts of my recruiter, Kristine Mallin, who supports me in everything I do,” Elmore commented. “Kristine is my biggest advocate and is always there for me. In fact, she probably hears my voice in her dreams; Kristine is a spunky person with a beautiful heart.”
Travel occupational therapy: An amazing, adventurous career
“I travel because it makes me happy and there’s nothing I would rather do at this time in my life,” Elmore said. “I love travel for the aspect of being able to work during the week and then going to explore on the weekends.”
Recently, Elmore flew out of Spokane to St. Louis, Mo., on a Friday after work, and then spent the weekend driving back to Idaho--a long but worthwhile adventure. Her travel adventures to date have been fun and varied, including sleeping in a tepee while visiting Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, learning how to waterski and brand a calf in Idaho, visiting the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas, touring the Coors brewery in Colorado, visiting the Helen Keller house in Alabama and exploring the great outdoors in Alaska.
“Travel has improved my OT knowledge and experience and taught me how to step out of my comfort zone; I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown professionally and personally and I’ve gained more self-worth than anything else. As you only have one life to live, you might as well travel and experience everything you can while you can,” she advised.
Club Staffing has a team of professional recruiters, housing specialists, licensing specialists and more, ready to help you make the transition to an allied travel career. Explore your career and travel options with a quick job search, or apply today to get started!
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