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An inside look: Travel therapy during the holidays

Most people would prefer to always spend their holiday at home with their family and friends. While this is a reality for people in many occupations, it's not always possible for those in the medical field. People in travel therapy jobs are very likely to spend their season on assignment, helping the people who are in need during the holidays. Amy Meredith has been a respiratory therapist for the past 17 years and has been in travel therapy since 2004, so she's worked her fair share of holidays. While the certainly misses her extended family at times, there are also a lot of interesting things about working in another state for  the holiday she celebrates: Christmas. 

Amy was accepted into an RT program right after high school, so respiratory therapy, and now travel therapy, is the only career she has pursued. Growing up in Alabama, she wasn't able to enjoy a white Christmas each year. As a travel respiratory therapist, she's had the opportunity to make up for all of those years she was unable to!

Her first assignment was at the University of Missouri Hospital, and enjoying the financial benefits and opportunity for adventure, she continued traveling. Over the past 12 years, she has worked all over the country in a variety of different settings, from large university hospitals to small critical access ones. This year, she'll be celebrating the holidays from Appleton, Wisconsin, where she works at ThedaCare.

"I like to embrace the new traditions."

Embracing tradition
As Amy explained in an interview with Aureus Medical, it's the opportunity to experience new customs that makes taking travel therapy assignments during the holidays so special.

"I have worked all over the country, from the East Coast to the West and every where in between," said Amy. "I think everyone celebrates the holidays each in their own way. Everyone has their traditions and I like to embrace the new traditions and blend them with my holiday traditions."

In fact, Amy even said that the holiday parties and traditions in the city and hospital she's been assigned to are some of her favorite parts of working during the holidays. Many of the hospitals she's worked at have had a strong sense of camaraderie, complete with holiday parties and plenty of baked goods! Some hospitals have even had Secret Santa gift exchanges for the staff  in which each nurse, doctor and therapist has received gifts of appreciation. 

Another interesting aspect of working with the public during the holidays is the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas, allowing Amy and other people in the medical profession to get to know more about other cultures and their holiday traditions.

"Being respectful and overall cheerful helps my patients during the holiday season," said Amy.

Christmas is both Amy's and her husband's favorite time of the year, so they try to do as many holiday-related activities as they can fit in where she's assigned. From shopping, looking at holiday light displays and decorations and even seeing local productions of holiday shows, being away from home can be a lot of fun when you're immersing yourself in another city's culture!  Amy finds it exciting that her husband travels with her, as they can always spend Christmas together!

Celebrating with family
While Amy loves that her husband is able to travel with her and they can always spend the holidays together, it can also be tough for her to spend Christmas without her extended family. However, she's not the only medical professional in the family, so everyone is aware of how demanding the job can be all year-round. Thanks to technology, though, innovations like Skype and FaceTime make sure that everyone can have a little bit of time together during this family-oriented time. She may be in another state on assignment, but she's still able to watch everyone in her extended family open presents on Christmas Day or "drop by" for celebrations. 

"Be prepared for your new assignment's climate."

Always being prepared
Anyone from a warm climate who's had to spend a winter in most other parts of the U.S. is familiar with the shock that can come from that first blizzard or streak of days in sub-zero temperatures. That's why it's important to not only be prepared for your new assignment's hospital and department but also for the temperature and climate, especially during the cold months.

"Fortunately, I have not experienced unexpected weather such as extreme snowfall where I would be mandated to stay at the hospital until clear to leave," said Amy. "But I did get to experience a Minnesota winter a few years back. When packing for a colder climates, I pack my cold weather gear. I have a versatile very warm down coat, gloves [and] hat. I think that having a very good coat is key. I have a Columbia Turbo down coat with Omni heat liner. Very warm and toasty!  I did purchase a snow bib for Minnesota when I was there a few years back. Also, warm boots!"

If you're in a snowy climate for travel therapy jobs or just to visit family this holiday season, make sure you're ready for the weather!

Comments

  1. By Jessica Daniels, OT

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