Why You Should Start Traveling as a Physical Therapist: Benefits and How to Get Started
If you’re an independent, curious, hands-on person who enjoys working in a person-focused field like healthcare, becoming a traveler can be a great career path. Furthermore, for people interested in body mechanics who want to use their knowledge to help others, being a travel physical therapist may be your ideal career. Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know before taking the plunge.
What is a Physical Therapist?
You probably know what it means to be a physical therapist, but we’ll briefly describe the basics. Physical therapy is the examination, treatment, and instruction of persons to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability and bodily malfunction. Physical Therapists are licensed healthcare professionals who help patients restore or improve mobility and decrease the frequency of associated pain. Additionally, they provide consultative, educational, and other advisory services.
Duties of a physical therapist
The exact nature of physical therapists' work varies by specialty and patient. Physical therapists tend to work in private clinics, hospitals, sports facilities, and nursing homes. In general, physical therapists help people rehabilitate from conditions such as:
- Broken bones, strained muscles and tendons, or sprained ligaments
- Joint dislocations
- Overuse injuries
- Movement difficulties caused by neurological problems like multiple sclerosis
- Physical difficulties arising from illnesses such as cancer or asthma
Some of the most common physical therapist responsibilities include:
- Taking medical histories
- Evaluating patient mobility, balance, coordination, and physical function
- Creating patient treatment plans to reduce pain or enhance mobility
- Demonstrating exercises, movements, and home workouts
- Assessing patient progress and making plan adjustments
- Coordinating with the patient’s primary physician and other medical professionals
- Advising patients’ family members on how to assist
- Supervising physical therapy assistants and aides
You’ll need the right combination of hard and soft skills to be a standout physical therapist. Why? Because PTs often work with people who are in pain or are frustrated about their physical limitations. This is especially true for patients who are experiencing something as a new problem, as well as those who’ve lost capabilities due to a tragic event. Moreover, utilizing knowledge and skills ensures PTs can work well with not only the patients but their family members, as well as other medical professionals and office personnel. Physical therapy is a profession rooted in trust.
Essential skills to have for physical therapists include:
- Strong communication
- Critical thinking
- Current treatment methodologies
- Record management (EMR)
- Medical regulations and compliance requirements (like HIPAA)
The Perks of becoming a traveling PT
Many benefits come with being a travel physical therapist, from the opportunity to advance your career to experiencing new places and meeting new people. It’s also no secret that being a traveling healthcare professional can earn you up to 15% more than working at a permanent staff job.
For physical therapists, specifically, a traveler can expect a salary that ranges from 50-100% higher than the average rate for a traditional PT job, depending on location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the number of PT employment opportunities between 2020 – 2030 is expected to increase by 21% (well above other professions).
Other perks of choosing to be a traveling PT can include the following:
Decreased burnout: Experiencing burnout is not a joke. However, having more schedule flexibility, not having to deal with office politics, and enjoying a change of scenery every few months can alleviate career fatigue. There are so many unique job opportunities and travel positions available to you. If you’re unhappy with a contract or location, you’ll always have an end and fresh start in sight!
Being challenged professionally and personally: Becoming a healthcare traveler requires getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. There is no shortage of opportunities to experience self-growth and development— make sure to embrace each and every one.
Things to consider
A travel therapist is expected to hit the ground running and be clinically competent immediately, whereas there might be more training and mentorship in a permanent position. Don’t let this be a deal breaker for you.
- Find a mentor you trust
- Study in your free time
- Take the initiative to ask questions when you need to!
How to become a physical therapist
This field requires a lot of education. To work as a physical therapist, you'll need to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and become licensed. Therefore, a science degree may provide the solid background required. Undergraduate biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, and social science courses will strengthen your experience. Physical therapy school is typically three years long (after getting a four-year bachelor's degree). But a few programs accept first-year university students who don't have a bachelor's degree.
Physical therapists must be licensed in every state. Requirements vary by state, but, generally, you must graduate from an accredited PT program and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam to earn a license. Some states may require continuing education to maintain your license, which may help you stay current on changes within the physical therapy field.
Start traveling with GetMed
Whether you’re a seasoned PT traveler itching for a change or new to the profession looking for adventure, this is where GetMed Staffing steps in to help. Partnering with a company and recruiter you can trust with your career is essential. Healthcare professionals are more in-demand than ever, and with an increasing number of open positions, travelers can earn more money, have more flexibility, and travel the country while working in the healthcare industry.
Becoming a GetMed traveler means you receive the following benefits:
- Medical (health, dental, vision) insurance, 401K + Company match, and life insurance.
- Customized Housing Options
- License and Certificate Reimbursement
- Referral Program
Our team is dedicated to each of their travelers and is passionate about helping them achieve success— whatever that looks like for them. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more or join the Travel GetMed team!