Why I Like Being a Travel Therapist

photo of pins stuck in map

Working as a travel RT isn’t for everyone – people with kids still at home and other family obligations that keep them tied to one place just can’t swing it.

But if you’re young (or even not so young) and free from a lot of the typical encumbrances that tie folks down, it’s a great way to see the country and gain valuable experience in a range of hospitals at the same time.

Just ask Paige Lynxwiler, BSRT, RRT, RRT-ACCS. She’s been traveling for her job for the past year and a half and is enjoying the opportunity it affords to experience new places and expand her RT knowledge.

“The best things about traveling, I would say, are not being tied down to one particular hospital or location — if I don’t like it, I can go somewhere else at the end of the 13-week contract — and I’ve been able to grow as a therapist,” Lynxwiler said.

She started out her travel experience fairly close to home at MU Health at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where she extended twice for a total of about ten months. Now she’s at the University of Chicago Medicine, on her second extension there.

Those experiences plus her first job after graduating from RT school have exposed her to the whole ball of wax when it comes to scope of practice. “I’ve now worked the full spectrum of zero RT driven protocols to RT protocols for everything,” she said.

She believes traveling around to various hospitals has helped her enhance her communication skills, learn new charting systems, and deal with different patient populations too.

For example, the South Side of Chicago is a world away from Southwest Missouri in terms of demographics and she’s had to adjust her patient interaction skills accordingly.

She’s also gotten the chance to provide continuing education on ventilators and ABGs to residents – something she believes will prove to be a big benefit when she eventually goes for the graduate degree that she hopes will put her in a good position to enter RT education.

Of course, there are downsides to everything, and traveling does have its challenges. For Lynxwiler – a self-proclaimed introvert – it’s been a little difficult to make and keep friends and she’s learned that being the new person in the department means she has to prove herself to other clinicians inside and outside of the profession before they completely trust her to get the job done.

Working hard solved the latter problem, and she tackles the former by staying in touch with friends on social media and planning get-togethers in advance. “A lot of little social media communication with Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram can really help a homesick heart,” said the RT.