Becoming a Healthcare Traveler: Advice From a Traveling RT

Young woman stops driving to relax and enjoy the view

Note: Guest contributor Ashrya Fields wrote this post. Learn more about Ashrya at the bottom of this article.

I used to think that only nurses could travel and allied health professionals wouldn’t have many opportunities available, but I was wrong. After starting my traveling respiratory therapy career in 2020, I’ve learned there are many options for traveling allied health professionals. Before diving into tips on how to get started, here’s how I began my journey.

Starting My Traveling RT Career

Before starting my traveling career, I met many RNs, RTs, and techs who had traveled and found myself intrigued by their adventures, experiences, and the places they had visited. I knew I’d become a traveling RT someday, but my top priority was being a single mom to two teenage boys. I often talked with them about my future goals to become a traveling RT, and they always supported my dreams!

The plan was to start researching to find a good company and recruiter once my boys graduated high school. My youngest son graduated at the height of the pandemic, which meant it was time to pursue my traveling career. There were so many uncertainties during this time, making me scared to make the career switch. Thoughts of leaving my boys, quitting my staff job, and all of the unknowns were overwhelming. 

Then, I had a nurse friend going to the hot zone in New York tell me, “COVID is COVID no matter where you are working.” That phrase kept ringing through my head. With her encouragement, I put my fear aside and gave it a shot. 

Now, I’ve been traveling for 2.5 years and have no regrets! The pandemic took a toll on the healthcare industry in many ways, but I loved seeing how the healthcare community leaned on each other to get through it. On my journey, I’ve met many like-minded, amazing people and added them to my “framily” (friend-family), as I like to call it. 

I’ve shared my love for traveling with my son, who came on my most recent assignment in Montana, and I’ve grown so much as a person through this career. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and taking the leap!

Are you interested in making the career switch? Here are my top tips on how to start your journey.

Tips to Starting a Career as an Allied Health Traveler

1. Get an industry mentor. There’s much to consider about making this career switch, so having an experienced mentor by your side who can talk you through the process, build your confidence, and offer advice is essential.

2. Have a plan, but know when to go with the flow. Write down your goals and where you want to go, but be open to new experiences. You never know where they will take you!

3. Obtain the licenses you need as soon as possible. Not having the appropriate state license can prevent you from getting your dream job, so make this a priority. Each state differs in the requirements and time it takes to obtain it.

4. Research travel companies and recruiters. Get referrals from other healthcare professionals, too.

5. Make sure you understand your compensation package, and read through it carefully.

6. Get all of your questions answered by your recruiter. It’s okay to ask until you understand!

7. Your contract is the most important document you will receive on assignment, so make sure to understand it and go over the agreement in detail.

8. Make sure to have a decent savings account for emergencies. There will be a lot of unexpected expenses, and you don’t want one financial hiccup to make or break your experience.

If you’ve covered all of these bases, you’re ready to go! See you down the road!

About Ashrya

The travel bug has bitten me, and I’m not sorry about it! I’m Ashrya, a respiratory therapist of more than ten years with experience ranging from neonates to geriatrics. 

I started traveling about two years ago, and I’m currently on a break but always looking for that next adventure. I have two Labradoodles, Charlie and Georgia, traveling with me.

Through travel, I’ve found I love the ocean and mountains and how they both calm my soul. I’ve also enjoyed mentoring and educating friends and fellow RTs on starting their traveling careers.

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