In 1990 I graduated from the University of Scranton with a B.S. in Physical Therapy and worked for 6 years in NJ at a school for Special Needs Children. Unsure this was where I wanted to be, I figured the best way to try out other clinical settings was becoming a Traveling PT for a little while. After a few phone interviews with travel companies, I chose TravCorps, (which eventually merged into CrossCountry TravCorps), and took my then 11 year-old cockatiel, Dundee, on one assignment, then another, and so on. Now, after 20 years & 8 state licenses (PA, VA, NJ, SD, MI, LA, CO, & WA), I’ve handled over 75 assignments working in Hospitals, Long Term Care, Inpatient Rehabs, Outpatient Clinics, School/ Pediatrics and Home Health Care.
Where is your favorite location or the most interesting place you’ve been?
I’ve had these questions put to me dozens of times over the years. My answer is always the same—“I can’t answer that.” It would be impossible to narrow down only one place as my favorite location or my favorite setting. When I go to a new location, whether it’s near my home in Pennsylvania or across the country, I try to take advantage of anything I can do or see while I’m there. I’ve visited dozens of National Parks, Historic Sites & Landmarks, gone white water rafting, hot air ballooning, skydiving, parasailing, attended NASCAR races, and several local/ State Festivals, including Sturgis Bike Week. I’ve also encountered all sorts of weather in my travels: the humidity in the Louisiana Bayous, the dry heat of the high deserts and thinner air in Colorado, a small earthquake & 2 hurricanes (including Superstorm Sandy) in NJ, and most recently surviving 32” of snow at my last assignment in Pennsylvania.
What does it take to be a Traveler?
The first & most important, I believe, is experience. When you take an assignment, you are likely filling in for a staff shortage, and the facility doesn’t have time to teach you how to be a Therapist/ Nurse. You tour the facility, they show you the paperwork, and then, with some guidance, they need you out on the floors ASAP. Next, you need versatility. As a traveler, you don’t always get to pick your favorite setting--depending on job availability & where you are licensed. Think of it as a training tool for you to fit in at various sites—you can try anything for 3 months. I’ve become a chameleon from traveling so long—I blend into my current location quickly and surprise many co-workers when they find out I am a traveler & not a permanent staff member (a nice feeling). Third, your family’s support is extremely valuable. I share a house with my sister, giving me a home base, and the rest of my family understands why I sometimes miss important events. Of course, they benefit by having a new place to visit in return. Finally, it helps to be a bit of an adventurer. Going to another state can be a little scary, but I chose traveling to see what I can see wherever I can, and believe I have blossomed as a Therapist and as a person because of it.
I don’t know how much longer Dundee (now 31) & I will be traveling, after so many years it’s getting tougher. I don’t expect many who choose to become a Traveler will stay on the road as long as I have, but even a few assignments will promote both personal and professional growth which will only benefit you, your patients, and any location you decide to settle on.
About Cross Country Allied
Cross Country Allied is the leading provider of travel assignments for Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, and Teletherapists. Looking to take the skills you've learned on the road? Contact our skilled team of talent acquisition specialists today!