Deciding on assignment location as a traveling healthcare professional

A recent poll conducted in a Facebook group geared toward traveling Respiratory Therapists revealed that location is the most important factor when deciding on a travel assignment. So that got me thinking: what all goes into deciding upon a location for a traveler? Current situation, individual preferences, and reason for becoming a traveling healthcare professional will alter the considerations taken into account when making this decision.

For many of the candidates I talk with, the desired location for an assignment is based off an emotional factor. For instance, they decide on a location because a loved one lives near or because it’s a destination they’ve always dreamed of visiting. And I don’t blame them, if I was a healthcare traveler, I’d probably make my decision using the same logic!

But what if selecting a travel assignment location was based more on practicality? I’m not saying to completely disregard your personal preferences, but you should educate yourself on the trends for where open assignments are located. Make sure you understand that even though an agency staffs nationwide, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are continuously open needs in every state at all times.

For this reason, I would caution you against leaving a secure permanent position to travel without logically and rationally considering locations. This means you’ll need to do some good old fashioned research! 

To start, find out which states have the most travel needs, not only for your modality, but also for your specialty within your modality. Believe it or not, your specific skill set will influence the openings available for you. For example, a unique set of needs for respiratory therapists will be available depending on setting and age population of experience.  

Also, consider state licenses. If a state requires a state license for your modality, there’s a good chance you’ll be required to have it in hand to be eligible for the assignment. I’m not advising you to run out and apply for a handful of state licenses right off the bat—that can get expensive. Does it make sense for you to apply for a Florida and Washington state license when you’ll have to be back and forth for assignments between those two states? Instead, if your dream is to travel to Florida for an assignment, consider getting a second state license in a state nearby such as Texas or South Carolina. This way you won’t be traveling cross country for the only two options where you’re eligible to take an assignment. Maybe down the road it’ll be more practical to apply for the Washington state license to have as a third option. It would be my suggestion to think ahead to scenarios like this when considering state licenses to apply for.  Again, what I’m suggesting is to do your research! If you’re beginning to think it sounds like a lot of work to be a traveler, it’s really not! What will make it much simpler is talking with a recruiter and reaching out to other travelers. This is a great way to begin to develop your plan.

Not only should you review the amount of available needs that are in a state and state licenses when deciding on location, but make sure to also think about pay. Pay will vary by state, and some are notoriously known for being low. Hawaii, we’re looking at you! So if pay is something that is of particular importance to you, be sure to ask! A good recruiter will be able to talk about how pay differs throughout locations across the country.

Lastly, I challenge you to think outside the box when it comes to locations. If you like to ski in your free time, Colorado and Utah aren’t the only states with slope options. If an ocean setting is what you desire, make sure you consider more than just California or Florida. The 50 states that make up the great US of A all have something unique to offer. Don’t limit yourself by only thinking of the obvious!   

Deciding on locations as a traveling healthcare professional is easier said than done for many people. If you have specific questions or would like help with your assignment search, please reach out! I’d love to talk with you about your background in healthcare and lay the foundation to help build a plan!

Have you ever traveled to any states that you were surprised by? It can be either in a good or bad way. Tell us the location you traveled to and why you were surprised to find what you did! 

Katie Lutmer is a Recruiter for the Aureus Medical Social Media Recruitment Team.


One comment

  1. I have just filled out all my paperwork to be a first time traveler as a Certified Scrub Tech. I’ve been wanting to be a traveler for quite a few years, but couldn’t go until now because my Dad came down with cancer and died last year. Then my sister and I had to clean out our childhood home to sell. Anyway, the 2 main reasons I wanted to travel was the money, and to spend time with my sons who live in South Florida, in the Ft Lauderdale area. But I found out yesterday that there are no positions and may not be for a while. And that they are few in number and go fast. So my question is, should I wait for a position to become available, take a permanent position in South Florida, or take a travel position in another state until one becomes available. South Florida is really very important to me, I only get to see my sons basically once a year, and life is going by so fast and I want to be apart of their lives. I really need some advice on this and anything you can tell me about traveling since I am new. My experience in surgery is quite extensive and am a very quick learner and hard worker. My relationships with surgeons has always been strong and with mutual trust with my skills. You can see in my skills sheet all that I have advanced experience with.
    If I decided on a permanent position, doesn’t your company help with placement also?
    Thank you for any input you can give me.
    Keitha Draper

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