This week’s non-clinical spotlight features my friend, and Nomadicare Founder/CEO, Laura Latimer!
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What is your full name and title at your current job?
Laura Latimer, Founder & CEO of Nomadicare
Where are you located?
Austin, Texas (for now!)
Where did you go to OT school, and what year did you graduate?
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in 2009
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long? In what setting (s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
I became a travel OT right away! The first year I worked in acute care in Texas, in a SNF in New Jersey (I was 15 minutes from Manhattan and loved it!), and I moved to Australia and worked in an outpatient autism clinic that focused on DIR® model therapy.
What did you do after that, and for how long?
I was a travel OTR for seven years.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
I loved the diversity and self-growth gained from being a travel OT. I got to work in so many settings and fall in love with settings I thought I wouldn’t like (like working in schools). And over the years, I got to live and see so many beautiful cities from being a travel OT. (Including taking off months at a time to backpack overseas!)
I did not enjoy the documentation and the SNF rules for productivity. That setting can be very unethical and unfair to the therapists and the patients.
At what point did you realize you wanted to do something non-clinical with your background, and why?
I accidentally stumbled into entrepreneurship. And I didn’t expect how much I would LOVE running a business and the excitement, growth, and fun that would bring to my life. I left being an OT clinically because of time–there was only so much time in a day to do all the things I was excited about, and entrepreneurship was my favorite.
What are you doing these days?
I am an entrepreneur and created Nomadicare. I made a website full of guides, apps, and interactive tools for travelers to create more transparency and fairness in our industry.
We are most famous for our vetted recruiter matching, up-to-date job board, state licensure tool, and the fair pay calculator.
Nomadicare was created to give healthcare travelers the answers and the tools they need to jump into travel healthcare with confidence. And a place to double-check that they are earning their true value so travelers don’t get taken advantage of by bad recruiters.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
Solely non-clinical now! I miss the patients sometimes, but I love what I have created!
How long have you been in your current role?
I started Nomadicare in 2014, and it started making a full-time income in 2017. It took a while!
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
I have done so much training throughout the years (and still do!) to learn business and entrepreneurship. The best training I did was in group settings where you get a group of other entrepreneurs in your “mastermind” to problem solve and learn with. The friendships you make are priceless, and the lessons come way faster with other people (who understand business) in your corner!
Where did you get the idea for your business?
I had just found out that the assignment I took as a travel OT was paying me $400 less a week than the other travel OT at the clinic. We were even working for the same company! We just had different recruiters. It was the first time I saw how much the travel therapy industry was like the used car sales industry.
It was over margaritas with my best friend, Stacia, where we borrowed a pen from our server and, on napkins, sketched out an idea that could make the industry fairer for the healthcare workers! And the idea stuck in my heart–that is where the first version of Nomadicare was born!
What types of products or services does Nomadicare offer?
We help travel therapists in so many ways!
My favorite product is the custom recruiter matching. There are hundreds of agencies out there, and I can’t overstate what a massive difference it makes to have the right recruiters working with you.
This product matches travelers to an honest recruiter and makes sure it is with the company that has the most jobs where the traveler wants to go. Travelers get a new match anytime their location goals change, and Nomadicare becomes their mentor and advocate if anything goes wrong with a recruiter we matched to them.
We also have a fair pay calculator that will show you where you can negotiate, and it also explains in full detail how we get paid as travelers (which is different than a permanent job).
We have an interactive licensure guide to help you know how to decide where to travel next. And we have a great job board that uses some of the best technology in the industry to show up-to-date open jobs across the country!
Plus, a massive blog and YouTube channel to learn from. And every product we have built is 100% free for travelers, which I’m so proud of!
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Great reactions! It was gradual as I left. I would work on Nomadicare, and then when I ran out of money, I would take another travel assignment. I did that for years before Nomadicare became full-time.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
It changes season to season, but it’s a lot of time on the computer. My “office” can change from a cute coffee shop, to home, to even flying to Italy… but almost all of my roles require me to work on a computer. One of the things I miss the most about patient care is using my body more during the day and less time looking at a laptop.
My world now consists of being a part-time marketer, graphic designer, inventor, educator, engineer, customer support, and boss. It’s a little bit of everything!
What are some of the challenges of your role? What are the rewards?
I find the most challenging part is hiring the right people for an internal role and being a boss. I don’t love managing other people’s work. At one point, Nomadicare got big enough to have about nine people working for me. My whole life became just managing other people’s goals and answering questions for them. I learned quickly that my passion in life is creating and not managing!
The other challenge is the self-discipline to set clear goals and not get distracted by every opportunity that comes up. Entrepreneurship means you are your boss. And you need to set up a workday and goals and structure just like any other job to make your dreams come true.
Some months are easier than others in staying motivated to work long hours that having your own business takes! If anyone says entrepreneurship is to get more work/life balance, that has not been my experience! I had much more “life balance” when just working a 9-5 when I could have whole nights and weekends off. A successful business takes a ton of hours and emotional energy that you can’t just leave behind at work, especially in the first years or during years of rapid growth.
The rewards are huge for me! I have met the most amazing friends (in the entrepreneur community), I’ve grown so much, I view the world differently now (in a good way), and I get to watch something that was just in my head come to life and change people’s lives.
Having a business that I feel is making a positive difference in the world gives my life so much meaning and purpose!
And being able to work from anywhere has allowed me to literally fill up my passport and see the world while still working and growing Nomadicare!
How do you think working as an OT prepared you for this role? Which skills transferred?
Being an OTR is a very creative and compassionate role. I gained great communication skills, problem-solving, and thinking outside the box to help my patients achieve a quality of life and independence. The answers to how to help a patient as an OTR are not always black and white, and I loved the challenge.
Being an OT also taught me how to break complex topics into simple language so my patients could understand and be empowered to follow through with home programs. I constantly try to think about how I can simplify things for travelers so they feel empowered to be a travel therapist without overcomplicating it.
Travel therapy was the game changer for me in gaining skills that helped me be an entrepreneur. Moving and being the new person every 13 months or so gave me the lessons to learn to be adaptable, make friends fast, be grateful for the moment, handle hard conversations, be resourceful, be intentional, be bold, and gain confidence.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
The pay for the first three years was just fun little bonuses like a side hustle. I made nothing for a while, and then I might have made $400 extra a month tops. Nothing that I could quit OT patient care from, but enough to make all the hours feel like they mattered and gave me hope it could become something bigger.
I didn’t know much about business and entrepreneurship then, so I was okay with it not being much right away. I didn’t think too much about money at first, and I needed to learn a lot, which takes time.
In 2017, the pay became enough to live off without patient care, but I liked that if it dropped back down, I could always get another travel job for 13-weeks to boost my income. Then, in 2018, it made enough to start hiring others to help me, and has kept growing ever since!
The hours are much longer, and actual vacations are next to impossible (until recently) because you can’t leave when you wear all the hats and do most of the jobs.
But I did travel the world as a “digital nomad” while I worked, and that gave me the ability to see the world even if I couldn’t take time off whole days or weeks.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
Someone who is disciplined, patient, hard working, growth oriented, constantly learning, and has a clear vision! If you want to start a new company with no blueprint, you have to be bold and put in years of work.
If you don’t love your vision or believe in it (or you are doing it JUST for the money), you will not like your life in this role. The joy of this role is being able to create, innovate, and see your vision come to life little by little.
Do you work remotely or on-site?
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
We will be soon! We will be hiring all types of therapists to create home exercise guides, treatment plans, and documentation cheat sheets so therapists can sell them to other therapists on our site! A place where therapists can help therapists with resources.
We sometimes hire therapists internally as contractors if they have non-clinical skills. If you write blogs, or are an expert at running Facebook ads, or have an amazing talent that a tech start-up could use, please reach out!
Lastly, we hire therapists in clinical roles as travelers–which is a great place to be to get paid really high and then be able to take long breaks while you work on your business or non clinical goals.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
So many! I cannot overstate how important it is to learn, learn, learn forever as an entrepreneur. Especially in technology! Things change all the time, and you have to constantly learn and stay on top of your self-growth, productivity, and leadership skills! “The Lean Startup” book is gold for entrepreneurs!
What is a typical career path for someone in your role?
The career path is:
- Believe in a vision
- Believe in yourself
- Buy coffee
- Learn, fail, succeed, fail, learn, repeat
It’s a game of having the confidence that you can do it, the patience to see it through, and the commitment and humbleness to keep learning and failing forward.
It’s a journey more than a destination.
What is next for you? What do you want to do with your career long-term?
No idea! I have big ideas for Nomadicare, and I’m still in love and excited about it, so for now, I will keep my energy and heart in making the travel therapy world better for therapists!
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?
Surround yourself with people who know more than you. People who are kind, encouraging, wise, and willing to love and challenge you.
It’s the people that make it worth it!
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?
In travel therapy, the whole landscape should be flipped. Right now, it’s set up like used car sales. In my vision for the future (that I’m creating), the experience of becoming a traveler and getting jobs across the country will be more like Zillow and home buying–not a salesperson on a car lot.
It should be changed because healthcare workers deserve a service that is genuinely there for them. They should get paid fairly and transparently while also being educated on expectations clearly. There shouldn’t be as many games and complexities as there are today.
If you could give yourself one piece of career advice you wish you had during your OT school program, what would it be?
Believe in yourself. Do your best. Be kind. Have fun, and don’t take it all so seriously.
If you could teach anything to today’s graduate students in your profession, what would it be?
For clinical settings: How to include patients in their own goal setting and use visuals to improve patient care and outcomes.
Do you have any special advice for other PT/OT/SLP/assistants who want to follow in your footsteps?
Do it!! Be brave, take the leap–it’s fun!! And be a travel therapist while you start your entrepreneurship journey. It makes it 100% easier to have a good-paying job for bills. And you can take half the year off to double down and focus on the business. Nothing happens overnight, and it’s a stable way to make money while you grow your dream.
Where can people find you on social media?
Instagram, TikTok, Facebook group with weekly live sessions, Facebook page, and LinkedIn!
Want to start your non-clinical career, but don’t know where to start?