Travel Occupational Therapist Leaves Daily Grind Behind
Hiking, beaches and professional growth highlight travel OT jobs
By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor
Amanda Woods, OTR/L, decided after a year of working as an occupational therapist at a skilled nursing facility in Santa Rosa, Calif., that it was time to spread her wings and grow as a professional.
“I started traveling 10 months ago because I wanted to explore various settings, meet new people and learn new treatment technologies along the way,” she said. “Traveling has given me a great opportunity to explore the country thus far, reconnect with old friends and create new friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Woods travels with Club Staffing, an AMN Healthcare company specializing in placing travel therapists, imaging professionals and other allied health professionals in temporary jobs across the country. She says that some of her favorite things about travel occupational therapist jobs include:
• Learning and exploring different settings and working with different caseloads/populations;
• Experiencing the different cultures at each area;
• Learning new treatment techniques from other professionals;
• Being creative and utilizing the provided equipment in the various settings; and
• Helping patients strive to reach their functional independence through adaptation, empowerment, strengthening and finding solutions to challenges of everyday life.
Exploring the best of the West
So far, all four of Woods’ travel assignments have been in the western United States. She has worked in a long-term acute care facility in Reno, Nev., and in skilled nursing facilities in Carson City, Nev., San Diego, Calif., and now in Oahu, Hawaii.
“I have loved all of my locations for separate reasons thus far: Nevada for the mountains with great hiking/skiing and small city life; San Diego for the lively towns, great beaches and fun company; and Oahu for exploring nature, the city life, beautiful beaches. I do still hope to go east maybe to Chicago and Maine,” she mused.
“All the places I have been, the rehab departments have been more than welcoming and thankful for my time and assistance,” she added.
What about favorite spots? “If I had to pick my top favorite, I suspect it will be Hawaii. It has been amazing!” Woods has been working four 10-hour days each week, which gives her three days to explore Oahu and the surrounding islands.
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Getting acclimated to new locations
There are three things that Woods does right away when she arrives at a new location for her travel OT jobs. First, she figures out how to get from where she is staying to where she is working with the available transportation--noting that on the continent she has her car, but on Oahu she is relying on the bus system. Second, she goes out exploring her new town. Then she tries to find time to work out, relax and enjoy herself before her first day of work.
In every location, she tries to find secret hiking trails, beaches and lakes to explore. Though she travels alone, friends and family regularly visit and take advantage of her free housing benefits provided by Club Staffing.
“As a traveler, I have learned to communicate with the state and travel company compliance departments because each state has different regulations on OT practice. I feel that the opportunity I have had to work in various settings, both long-term acute care and skilled nursing, as well as in locked, sub-acute and skilled units has enhanced my knowledge base and my résumé tremendously.”
“If you are thinking about traveling, don't hold back; travel while you can,” advised Woods. “This job is amazing, as you are able to pick a destination and explore the area while working. Traveling gives you a great opportunity to break free from your day-in and day-out grind, explore the country, find which setting fits your professional style best and grow in your career and as a person!”
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