In just one year, Dr. Aimee Kent ’15, a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate, has provided physical therapy to hundreds of patients across the country. She also stood next to the world’s tallest trees in California, felt the cool waters of the country’s deepest lake in Oregon, and tasted authentic Mexican food in Texas.
Kent is a traveling physical therapist. Since graduation, she has accepted a new job every three to four months.
“I knew I loved physical therapy but had no idea where I wanted to live,” she says. “This allows me to test out settings and cities.”
Kent has worked in Virginia, Texas, Oregon, and Washington at either a skilled nursing facility or an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Her patients ranged from a 25-year-old car accident survivor to a 103-year-old with a cardiac condition.
Here, she offers a few rules of the road:
ASK DETAILED QUESTIONS DURING YOUR INITIAL INTERVIEW. “You are not going to see the facility before you work in it,” Kent says. “It helps to know what you’re walking into.” For example: What are the expectations for your first day? “I didn’t ask that for my first assignment and I walked into a regular eight-hour work day,” Kent says. Since she began asking, her first days have included training, tours, and a half-day of treating patients.
LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ABOUT THE POSITION. During your interview, also ask how many facilities to expect to work in and how many physical therapists (and other professionals) work at the facility. Next, dive into the types of patients, and what the productivity standards are.
ACTIVELY MEET NEW PEOPLE. The hardest part of a travel therapy job is finding new friends, Kent says. Use your hobbies to find people with similar interests. “I am a huge college football fan,” she says. “I could sit at home to watch games alone or I can go to Buffalo Wild Wings, where there are ton of fans.” She also befriended a co-worker in Texas who, like her, enjoyed hiking.
Kent plans to take at least three more travel positions before finding a place to settle down. Overall, she says the experience has helped her grow. “It’s been awesome,” she says. “I’ve gone through some ups and downs, but I would not change it at all.”