A Day in the Life of a Travel Occupational Therapist

Working with patients of all ages to develop or regain functional skills can make an incredible difference in people's lives. Here's the day in the life of a travel occupational therapist.

Working with patients of all ages to develop or regain functional skills can make an incredible difference in people’s lives. Some OTs travel and take on temporary assignments across the country or abroad.

Getting to Work

A travel occupational therapist works for a healthcare staffing agency and takes on short-term contracts in different medical facilities nationwide. The work is very similar to on-site OTs, as they help patients of all ages develop or regain physical, mental, emotional, and social skills that affect their everyday lives.

Typically, travel occupational therapy jobs require a bachelor’s degree in health science or a related field and a licensed occupational therapist. The best way to get started is by finding a reputable healthcare travel agency with jobs in your area and asking for recommendations.

It is important to be flexible and willing to work weekends, float and be on-call. It also helps to stay organized and have all your documents in one place, so you can easily share them with recruiters. Often, travel therapy jobs go quickly, so be fast and submit your application! It’s a great way to see different parts of the country and learn more about the various types of patients and settings.

Meeting the Clients

OT Travelers have the flexibility to take on temporary assignments in different locations. They work with a medical staffing agency to find available opportunities near their tax home or across the country.

Travel OTs are often hired to fill the gaps in staffing due to vacations, leaves of absence, or census fluctuations. They may be assigned to a hospital, clinic, community health program, or rehabilitation center.

Working as a travel OT is rewarding. It gives healthcare professionals a chance to experience a variety of facilities, expand their cultural horizons and grow as a professional. Many healthcare travelers also have the opportunity to help patients who might not otherwise be able to get care in their local area. This is especially true in rural communities with severe shortages of healthcare professionals. It’s important that traveling OTs stay flexible and adapt to each new environment. Having an experienced clinical manager coach them on each location’s ins and outs helps make the transition easier. 

Creating a Plan

Travel occupational therapy is an excellent option for people who want to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with physical or mental disorders. This career path enables healthcare professionals to start fresh regularly in new locations and facilities, keep their skills sharp, and build a solid resume.

A travel OT must determine which staffing agencies offer assignments that align with their goals and personal preferences. This can be done by searching online forums or asking current travel therapists about their experience with their staffing agency.

It’s also helpful for new grads to identify the specific skills and patient populations they want to work with. This will help them narrow their job search to only the best options that suit their career goals and travel needs. A good way to do this is by writing out a list of their requirements, then prioritizing them based on what’s most important to them. This will make the search process easier and help them get their first assignment.

Providing Therapy

Whether working with patients or completing paperwork, the OT must diligently do their job. It’s a career that requires excellent communication skills and the ability to meet the needs of all clients. The client may be experiencing a physical or emotional issue, and the therapist must help them through their struggles.

Occupational therapy practitioners are also expected to be ethical and moral. This includes knowing a patient’s rights, avoiding discrimination, and practicing the law. They must recognize when their clients are at risk of harm or have violated their rights.

A travel OT has the opportunity to experience new work environments, earn competitive wages, and build a large professional network. Many perks include housing stipends, direct payroll deposit, life and health insurance, referral bonuses, and more! This flexible career is ideal for anyone looking to travel while making a difference. 

Leaving the Facility

While most travel companies prefer OTs and COTAs with a year or more experience, new graduates can also find jobs. You need to know where to look.

You can apply for an open position by contacting a staffing agency and telling them your skillset, location preferences, and availability. The agency will then alert you to facilities in need of a therapist and will set up interviews. If your qualifications match, you will get the job and relocate to that destination.

Your contract will last 13 weeks, giving you plenty of time to explore a location like a local. You can also line up back-to-back jobs to stay longer in one place.

Sometimes, a facility may cancel a travel therapist’s contract with “good cause.” This typically means that the therapist is not performing to the expected standard. It could also mean that the therapist has made a mistake that will impact patient care or that they have not been on time with their duties.

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