Traveling COTA Finds Best of Both Worlds

John Yoder, travel COTA, takes assignments to be close to family.

By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

Some people spend their entire professional life looking for that ideal balance between career success and personal satisfaction, but John Yoder, a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) with Club Staffing, reports that his traveling COTA jobs have enabled him to find the best of both worlds early in his therapy career.

“I absolutely love what I do,” he said. “To be able to make a difference in someone’s life--that’s a great way to start your day. The people I work with every day have so many stories and experiences.”

Yoder embarked on his travel career straight out of school as a new graduate three years ago, and he’s continued to work occupational therapy travel jobs ever since. But a major storm at his first assignment in southwest Arkansas tested his resolve, just as he was getting started.

“On my third day, there were three tornadoes that touched down around the town, seven inches of rain inside an hour, and we were actually tagging patients to prepare for an evacuation,” he explained. “After that, I realized two things--one, that I could handle anything that was thrown at me, and the second thing was that if I needed anything at all, my recruiter was going to be there for me.”

The strong relationship that Yoder has built with his recruiter is one of the primary reasons he continues to travel with Club Staffing, an allied staffing company that places therapists, imaging professionals and technicians in temporary jobs around the country.

“That’s the biggest thing for me, is the connection I have with my recruiter, Kim,” he said. “She’s a fabulous recruiter, but she’s also a great friend. I know that I can trust her with anything and that’s been one of the reasons why it’s been so important for me to work with Club Staffing, so that I am able to work with Kim.”

Since that first whirlwind assignment in Arkansas, Yoder has continued to travel locally around the state and in Indiana and Illinois, so that he can be near his family and kids. He’s currently wrapping up an extended 50-week assignment in a facility just outside of Chicago.

“It’s a great location and facility, with really nice people,” he said. “They’ve had a need, and I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to fill it.” Most travel contracts are for 13 weeks, but will vary depending on the facility need; contracts can also be extended by mutual agreement of the facility and traveler.

His travel COTA jobs have given Yoder the opportunity to launch his professional career while learning new skills and techniques along the way. He enjoys learning new therapy approaches from his colleagues in the different settings where he has practiced. Stories from his elderly patients--including a 105-year-old-woman that he worked with the other day--provide him with ongoing inspiration, wisdom and impromptu history lessons.

Once all of his children are out of the house and in college, he plans to expand his travel horizons to other regions and states--and stay out of the snow.

“I love traveling and I love what it offers me in terms of the variety of locations I get to see. Going on vacation is one thing, but actually going and working somewhere and experiencing it for 13 weeks (or longer), you actually get a better feel of what the area has to offer and what’s there.” He especially enjoys finding those hidden places that only the locals know about, adding, “I love that part of traveling.”

When he’s not helping patients, this husband and father of four spends his time immersed in his children’s lives and activities.

“I love being able to drive home for my daughter’s band competitions. That’s a big part of what I do and who I am,” he concluded. “That’s why I am traveling--to be able to provide a better life for my family and myself.”

“You know that old saying about a man who loves what he does never works a day in his life? I haven’t worked in three years.”


Club Staffing, an AMN Healthcare company, offers a number of COTA jobs and other allied healthcare opportunities across the country. Apply today to get started on your travel career.



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