Using Travel Physical Therapy to Launch a Non-Clinical Career

If you want to learn how to enter the world of travel physical therapy—or become a self-published author—then this is the blog post for you!

In this post, I will discuss the following:

  • My frustration with physical therapy school and the physical therapy profession
  • How I decided to become a travel physical therapist
  • Three reasons travel physical therapy changed my life
  • The 10 steps to start a travel physical therapy career
  • How I used my unique experience as a travel physical therapist to self-publish two books
  • The five steps and tips to become a self-published author

My frustration with physical therapy school and the physical therapy profession

decided to become a travel physical therapy professional

I almost didn’t become a physical therapist.

During my second year of graduate school, the realization of rapidly piling student loan debt hit me hard. Very few people know this, but almost every night, I went to sleep with dread, anxiety, and tears. I leaned on my closest friends and family to remind me of why I made this decision – which was to ultimately help people. So, despite hefty student loans and the realization that my career path may not earn me a justifiable salary compared to those loans, I trudged through.

But even after graduation, I battled with the weight of my career decision. Being a physical therapist is hard!

You enter this profession with the hope of helping people walk again, helping them return to the life they love, and making difference in society. Instead, you get a hurricane of patients, many of whom you can only see for a couple of minutes.

I chose physical therapy to make meaningful relationships with my patients but that is far from what is happening in many clinics today.

In addition, there was the stress of managing my growing student debt. I knew this was not a sustainable path for myself, but yet I didn’t know how to overcome these feelings!

How I decided to become a travel physical therapist

I wish I could say that I chose to be a travel PT because I was burned out or frustrated at the brutal pace our industry sets. But, becoming a traveler was actually more out of necessity. In 2015, I decided to follow my boyfriend to the East Coast. But there was just one problem-I had to find a job first!

I worked day and night in hopes of securing a position before our move across the nation. I had several phone interviews and offers for me to visit New York, but this was just too expensive for a newish graduate.

Finally, I branched out and took a risk on travel physical therapy.

I was skeptical about travel physical therapy as a career path. Back then, I wasn’t aware of any blogs, Facebook groups, or podcasts. My classmates and teachers offered little guidance.

But, after making several calls to various travel companies, I found an amazing recruiter who helped answer my questions and found me a wonderful opportunity to work at a level-one trauma hospital in New York.

I could write several blog posts on the nuances, advantages, and disadvantages of travel physical therapy! In fact, I have created the website Debt Free PT specifically to help provide free resources and mentorship for travel therapists.

Even better, for those considering travel PT, I have created a FREE mentorship program that includes my two-hour course, 180-page Ebook, as well as a one-on-one mentorship session designed to guide you through the steps to become a successful travel PT.    

To summarize all the great things about traveling, these are three of the biggest reasons why I’m so grateful for travel physical therapy!

3 reasons travel physical therapy improved my life:

1. Sample different work settings

As a traveler, I have been able to test out various settings. This has helped me to decide if I wanted to pursue outpatient, acute rehabilitation, or acute care as a career.

2. Accelerate my experience

I have also been able to improve my experience exponentially. Instead of seeing the same diagnoses and using the same treatment style, I have been able to learn from tons more therapists and see a greater variety of patients than in a traditional position. The more I have traveled, the more my skills and confidence have grown. I have transformed into such a better PT than I would have staying in just one traditional job.

Editor’s note: this breadth of well-rounded experience often translates into making you a better candidate for clinical care coordinator, rehab liaison, utilization reviewer, and other non-clinical jobs!

3. Improved financial security 

pay off PT debt with travel physical therapy

In travel physical therapy, your average salary can widely vary based on the setting, location, the travel company, and your experience level. But often, your pay rate is significantly higher than in a traditional setting. This helped make significant impact on my lifestyle and my mental health.

I was able to pay off my credit card debt and still afford to go on amazing adventures to Iceland and Puerto Rico.

Achieving this increased financial freedom was like lifting a tremendous weight off of my shoulders. Seeing my bank account actually grow freed me from the regret I faced when I thought about my student loans. I was able to feel proud as a physical therapist and I was able to think of the future!

If my story has inspired anyone to begin their journey in travel PT, here are the 10 steps you can take to start a career in travel physical therapy!

The 10 steps to start a travel physical therapy career

  1. Find an amazing travel physical therapy company
  2. Secure an honest and supportive travel recruiter
  3. Complete the required paperwork (resume, references, skills checklist) and tests (TB tests, physical, blood titers)
  4. Prepare your assignment search with your recruiter: highlight where you want to work, what settings, what hours, and what pay rate.
  5. Allow your recruiter to send out your applications to potential facilities
  6. Complete the phone interview for your prospective assignment(s)
  7. Confirm your assignment
  8. Negotiate your travel contract (start and end dates, pay, reimbursements, stipends etc.)
  9. Start your first travel assignment
  10. Complete your contract and either renew at your current assignment or find a new assignment

How I used my unique experience as a travel physical therapist to self-publish two books

Travel physical therapy improved my life so much, that I knew I had to spread the word. This is what led me to write “The Ultimate Guide to Travel Healthcare” and “The Ultimate Guide to Travel Physical Therapy”.  I wanted to share my knowledge and my experience to new and seasoned therapists. Even more, I wanted to provide a resource to avoid PT burnout and offer hope for overcoming student loans!

Writing a book is challenging! And that is on top of the challenge of working full time!  But, I was so passionate about these topics that I felt as if words flowed off my fingers and on to the page.  My first book took one year to write, my second only six months. I discovered that once you learn what you want to write about, how to structure your book, and how to submit to various publishers like Amazon, your writing timeline will significantly decrease.

One of my biggest hurdles when I first started writing was researching how to even go about self-publishing a book. For such a long time, book publishing has been for only famous people or those with book deals. But with rise of the internet, anyone can actually self-publish! Here are my five biggest tips for aspiring authors!

The 5 steps and tips to become a self-published author

travel pt and self published author

1. Choose a topic you are passionate about.

Your readers will know if you are passionate about what you are writing. Passionate writing makes for a more interesting read, and will lead to more people enjoying and learning from your book. Writing about topics you enjoy will also help ensure your longevity as a writer.

2. Choose a topic that has little competition or that you have experience in

To make your book stand out, you want to choose a topic that is underserved.  One of the best platforms to discover hidden niches is to use Amazon.

Amazon is one of the top self-publishing platforms today. There are over 3.4 million books sold on Amazon according to TechCrunch, and that was as of 2014. Although that’s some serious competition, there are still hidden topics waiting to be published. You can discover how competitive your book idea is by simply going into the Amazon search bar and typing in your idea or title.  

Simply scroll the page and see what other books have been published and if their idea is similar to yours.

Another tip is to search for Amazon’s “best sellers” in Kindle or paperback. They actually have a best seller free and paid list. Scroll through these lists to see how popular your topic is, or to even just find a topic that inspires you.

Although you want to try to find a topic that has less competition, another strategy is to publish books on topics that you are knowledgeable and experienced in. For example, as a physical therapist you could write about teaching older adults balance activities or how to pass the OCS exam. You will have a natural authority on these topics. In addition, you will be able to add a relatable impression to your writing, as you will be able to provide your personal examples and lessons learned.

3. Just write and take the first step

Did you know that only 1% of those who want to write a book actually do?

You will be much more likely to finish and publish your book if you just start something, rather than wait for the perfect time or perfect topic.

You may be asking yourself, “Well, who am I to be writing about this subject?” The same could be said for many top influencers and authors. If you think you have a unique perspective or experience, then you have to put your voice out there.

Many best-selling authors had little background in writing, and were not famous until they published their work, which then skyrocketed their success.

4. Create a launch team that will help and support your book

The internet is such a big world. Even if you make the best book ever, no one may ever know, because the internet has specific algorithms to ensure that only the best product gets in their searcher’s hands.

In a very simplified explanation, your book will be found more easily, and sell more copies, if you have a large number of book reviews and—even better—positive book reviews.  

Initially, you will have not any reviews or sales. So how do people find your book? Through your launch team!

Find a group of fellow co-workers, friends, family, and classmates and invite them to join your launch team. Members of this team will then post your book on their various social media channels and spread the word about your book to their friends, co-workers, and anyone else who will listen.

The more you and your team market your book, the more your book will be visible, and the stronger chance you have of your book succeeding.

5. Be brave and have a thick skin

Social media can be a cruel world. You will work tirelessly on your book, yet the first grammatical error will result in a nasty comment. You just have to be brave, have thick skin, and just make the best product that you can make. If you are proud of your work, then others will be as well. Lean on those who support you and be professional to those who don’t.

It’s funny, how having something built by you is empowering but also extremely frightening. It’s like putting yourself out there for everyone to judge, compare, and criticize. But think of the potential that could come with taking this risk!  

Through all the craziness that comes with self-publishing, I have never regretted my decision. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of more people becoming self-published authors, as it is a very inexpensive—or potentially free—way to impact society, transition into a non-clinical career, or grow one’s business/physical therapy practice.  If you want to learn more about self-publishing or you have further questions, just create a profile and message me through The Non-Clinical PT!

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