Tag Archives: life

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes for a travel PT…

11 Jun

Choosing your travel housing and getting it right the first time (especially when trying to figure it from a distance in an unfamiliar place) doesn’t always happen. For me, my originally planned location was a good starting point because of its proximity to family despite its significant distance from my workplace. But with the passing of time, getting to know your surroundings, and getting to know the (not so hospitable) people within your new community can lead you to the conclusion: “Get me the hell away from this place!” I’m still sticking to my recommendation to fellow healthcare travelers to strongly consider the RV-ing route for this exact reason. Lower cost rent, monthly/weekly/daily rate options, and the ability to take your “house” with you at the drop of a hat continue to be an advantage.

However, I am learning the challenges to RV’ing in the Tucson area, where you really have to be selective about the community you pick in the sand sea of senior citizens. At my last location, the (older) population was not of the hip variety (if they even had their real hips) and pretty intolerant of a 30-something professional in their lair. (Mind you, I was not in a community exclusive for 55+. There were hellians tearing around on trikes and 40-something trailer trash milling around—that’s right, I went there.) It doesn’t take long to pick up on the vibes of the “regulars” who reside at an RV park that are not interested in a transient person invading their space. I actually got confronted for “casing” one of the mobile homes while trying to take photos of the Super Moon with my telephoto lens. These experiences, culminated with a climactic over-dramatized incident involving my dogs, led me to speed up the process of moving on to sandier pastures. As a PT and an RVer, I’m grateful for the housing freedom to be able to scope out other options and pick up and go as I see fit. Currently, I’m settled in to an RV park that is in a much more desirable location, managed by welcoming and professional folks, and doesn’t appear to have an express ticket on the gossip train. All pluses in my book!

Watching the sun set behind the mountains from my RV site…

The “learning to live with less” mantra only works so long in < 23 feet of space

2 Jun

A little housekeeping post to start the update on one of several living arrangement transitions… Over the past month, it has dawned on me that a 23 foot motor home didn’t, in fact, offer that equivalent in living space. I quickly learned how tight the quarters were when my phone-chat pacing habit became quite dizzying. That, along with the constant shuffle of personal items, furniture, and gigantic dog crate, started those cogwheels in my head to turn. As often happens on a journey of self-discovery, I found myself discounting my entire original rationale then crunching numbers and making a plan to somehow upgrade my RV living space in the fall when I returned to Austin for a hiatus.

Then, as if by divine intervention, the opportunity to purchase a practically new fifth wheel RV and trusty pick-up truck as a steal-of-a-deal fell in my lap. At the mercy of the classically unpredictable acute care PT schedule, I orchestrated the purchase and move from ol’ MH to the new fifth wheel in a series of evening and one-day-off stints. God bless the insane American dream that allows a 30-something to have in her possession 4 vehicles and a tow dolly at the same time. (It’s actually anxiety producing even just typing the scenario. Deep breaths.) Although the logistics of financing, purchasing, licensing, registering, and selling my former vehicles can easily be considered a nightmare, I will gladly trade my week between assignments to trek back to ATX for vehicle mayhem in exchange for the added space. Remind me of this when I’m 1.) still financially spread thin, 2.) freaking out while attempting to hitch the fifth wheel solo, and/or 3.) trying to parallel park the truck in an urban locale.

From cramped and cluttered  (packing/moving day!) …

… to rollin’ with the big dogs!

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Feels a little bit more like a “home” on wheels now!

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Back on the Blogging Radar

10 May

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I didn’t realize how long I had been off the blogging radar! When on an acute care PT schedule which is free flowing and often without a traditional “weekend” of two consecutive days off, time escapes you. With only one day off for every 5 worked for several weeks, not only have I lost time to play tourist, local explorer, outdoor adventurer, I have also lost my daily routine. Losing track of the mundane laundry, bills, errands, etc. to a whirlwind of workdays starts to affect the work-life balance.

And, thus, the blog has suffered. Rest assured, loyal readers, I have lots of fun experiences, photos galore, and perspectives on local healthcare up my sleeve! (And a schedule with three “real” weekends in a row coming up!)

Get your ducks in a row before a travel assignment

26 Mar

Before embarking on your travel therapist adventure, the list of “Things to Do” is overwhelming. What I found to be the most daunting was planning ahead for those things that come up scattered throughout the year.  Although traveling within the US means anything you may forget to pack is likely accessible while you’re away from home base (or maybe you can just go without it!), there are things that are better not to be stuck without. Depending on how long you will be away from your home area, you can prioritize what needs to be handled in advance, what may come up on the road, and what can wait ’til you’re return.

These are the “big ones” I came up with before I got on the road for the next 7 months:

Vehicle inspections, registrations, maintenance:  For inspections, you may have to get them done early if you’re not going to be in your home state when they are due.  If your registration is due while away, can you renew online?  If not, be sure our mail is being forwarded appropriately.  Finally, if you have a relationship with a good car repair shop, like I do, assess what routine maintenance items are essential to be done prior to your trip and those that can be put off til your return. A long road trip may mean wanting to invest in some of those services beforehand to prevent problems on the road.

License renewals: For professional licenses, make sure you bring them and any other paperwork you may need if your renewals will come up while you’re traveling. Also, do you know when your driver’s license expires? For me, that was one that almost slipped through the cracks! Check to see if you can do it in advance or from afar. (For example: I could renew my Texas driver’s license months in advance of its expiration, and it still keeps its original renewal month for next time.)

Medical needs: Flex when you take care of routine medical needs. If follow ups or lab work is needed on the road, discuss with your doctor how to get the necessary results to their office or plan to use a provider on the road.

Prescriptions, etc: Use a pharmacy that is national, as your scripts will be accessible through their system no matter your location. Wear contact lenses? Make sure you have enough sets to make it until you’re back.  That way you don’t need to coordinate (or pay for) having them sent by mail.

Bills:  I was slow to move to paperless statements and online bill pay.  Then, I was hesitant to have any electronic fund transfers or recurrent payments. It felt too out of my control. But now with being way from home, both were the way to go! No need to have someone else manage your bills or money and no worries about the sometime time-insensitive mail forwarding.  I learned that some companies will give you incentives (aka discounts) to set up an EFT.

Mail: Decide whether having the post office forward it or a person you know (neighbor, family, friend, house sitter) forward it is right for you.  I prefer to have my housesitters forward it so that they can screen for junk mail and to ensure my mail gets to me at the correct address.  Sometime the postal service can have a lag, which can be a glitch if you’re transitioning to new housing or a new city.

Mission (almost) accomplished!

1 Mar

A lot has happened in the past week plus.  I’ve had several phone interviews for possible assignments, and finally the stars have aligned for location and start date.  An assignment in my desired location of Tucson was secured; and therefore, my anticipated start date has moved up a bit.  I knew I had to jump on the opportunity!  Wow, things happen fast from that point!  Once the assignment was confirmed with the facility, I began (and continue) feverishly working to complete paperwork, drug screens, finger printing, compliance modules, more paperwork.  Once these steps and the final agreement are signed, sealed, and delivered… I’m yours, Tucson!

Not only is one a PT as a traveler, but also a juggler!  It is overwhelming to think of all the things I need to accomplish from the “business” side of it, but also to be prepared for my housesitters’ fast-approaching arrival, my departure to live out of a 23 ft box for seven months, my road trip, and my living arrangements once in Tucson.  … Deep breaths…  It’s amazing  how many things you don’t realize need to be done when you’ll be away from your home base for an extended period.  Some helpful hints of things to consider for both personal and professional “To Do” lists prior based on my current experiences will follow soon.  For now, I’m doing my best to focus and chip away at those daunting checklists while trying to scoop up any work I can in the meantime.

Yes, I can hold a steady job. But I don’t want to, thank you very much.

29 Jan

My passion for being a physical therapist remains strong, but finding the balance between life and work has been a daunting task. I have been a full-time employee, but the whisper inside to be a travel P.T. was ever present. The whisper became more like a bug in my ear when, in 2007, I met a fantastic PT (now friend, too) who had experienced life as a PT traveler and matter-of-factly told me within the first few weeks of knowing me, “It would be perfect for you, and you’d be great at it.” Sadly, it felt like too big of a “risk” for me at the time, so I pushed away that nagging voice in my head and carried on my established path. That road, however, was riddled with flashy billboards proclaiming, “Travel, PT! You know you want to!”

It was true. I wanted to find a way to do what I loved (both travel more and be a PT) while staying balanced (read: not overly invested, overly stressed, overly consumed by my work). I love challenging work, and from the beginning, I’ve been drawn to clinical practice (particularly inpatient neurologic rehab) that is hard work on multiple levels but holds the potential for monumental stepping stones toward the reward of the patient’s recovery. The multifactorial intensity of these practice settings can make maintaining my “balance” another (less welcomed) challenge. When I wanted to recalibrate my life/work balance without taking the plunge into travel PT, I dipped my toes in the waters of being a wandering P.T. by filling a “full-time” schedule floating between several facilities PRN (“as needed”). Ironically, I then missed the continuity and contributions made from start-to-finish of a patient’s care. My gypsy soul was in a tug-of-war with my professional preferences. Where was the middle ground between the heavy commitment of full-time placement and the freedom (yet, little sense of investment) of PRN work? To me, the happy medium could be Travel PT. No other employment status offers the “pseudo full-time employee” feel (for 13 weeks) by allowing you to contribute your unique insights and skills, leave a positive footprint, but then move on to the next!

As I certainly don’t live in an idealistic fairytale, I know that every situation has its potential pitfalls. Sure, some travel contracts are to cover a maternity leave or a leave of absence. But to paraphrase conversations I’ve had with many therapists experienced in travel/contract work— many places that will pay for a contractor are desperate for a reason. So, with new freedom and travel adventures comes a tradeoff. It is likely that I will encounter places with staffing troubles, management issues, morale dips, and/or obscure locales. This brings to mind another recurring pearl imparted to me by fellow travelers: “You can do anything for 13 weeks [within the realm of your professional ethics and values].” For the many perks, I think it will be worth it.

Wow, you’re really going to do that?

17 Jan

What? Driving  a motor home, towing my car, wrangling two oversized puppies, finding out each 13 week assignment a couple weeks before it starts … just me and the open road headed across the southwest solo all for the very first time?  Sure, why not?

I typically see raised eyebrows and a look of disbelief when I talk to people who don’t know me well about this master plan I’ve concocted.  People seem to think the idea just sprung into my head overnight and then—bam! – I took off!  Well, okay, I have kind of operated like that before.  But, I swear, I always put a lot of thought into it.  Can’t blame a girl for having a vision and making it happen, right?  Despite my propensity to get an idea in my head and execute it fairly quickly – most notably when redecorating, re-landscaping, traveling, relocating, and job-changing — I’m not really an impulsive person.  I am a planner.  Type A to the max.  I actually could argue that this life route is far outside my comfort zone—less control, less ability to plan down to the “t”, more flexibility required.   But I’m also focused, (a wee bit) impatient, and averse to feeling stagnant.  Those traits, along with my wanderlust make the discomfort of being outside my box worth it.  (I hope.)

When I was younger, family vacations were important—many of which involved hitting the road.  At 11, I had my first big adventure.  A cross country trip with my mom, a mini-van, and more scenic American landmarks than you can shake a stick at (although I’m sure Mom would have liked to beat my ass with said stick on several occasions throughout the trip).  Some may think that Dad got it right by flying out to meet us on the west coast for the hotels and amenities part of the trip, but that bicoastal trek opened my eyes to the beauties America has to offer (plus a few places you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming back to… but at least I now have stories to tell).  My list of domestic destinations continued to grow (to date, 8 states left to go), along with international jaunts to Toronto, Mexico (just Tijuana, but that’ll do), England x 2, France, Spain x 3, Costa Rica, Portugal,  and (the most recent) Argentina.

With the exception of the four states in which I’ve lived (18+ years in South Jersey, the college years in Boston, 8 weeks in NOLA,  6 years and counting in central Texas), I’ve seen most of my US destinations through tween eyes.   I’m looking forward to discovery through my 30-something eyes by living it, instead of vacationing it.  Southwest USA, here I come!

The next episode…

15 Jan

My Type A efforts to transfer my Argentina trip blog to this one are complete! It’s nice to have those posts wrapped up with a pretty bow here, since my inaugural blog was hatched in anticipation of that adventure. I’ve been doing a lot of work the past few days to have my new creative playground locked and loaded, to catalog the upcoming chapter of my life. So, here it is! Looking forward to staying connected with you along the way.

Ready for adventuring

28 Oct

Tonight was bittersweet. For those who don’t stalk me on FB the way I do you 😉  … The pre-blog recap about me is:  I get stir crazy. I have insatiable wanderlust that has a ~ 1-2 year shelf life before rearing its (beautifully inspiring and liberating) ugly head. I have been at a fantastically challenging, preconceived-by-self “dream” neurologic/ complex medical physical therapist job for beyond the length of time when that pesky itch to rove usually kicks in (Go, me!).  But then I turned 30 and had not a crisis but an AWAKENING (okay, a smidge of a crisis).  I realize, balance is not a luxury but a necessity.

SO…. the plan was put into motion to take an approach of “life with a side of work”. Notice given: check. Trip to Argentina approaching: check. The great beyond in my reach: check check.

Fast forward to today.  The “Go away, Jen!” party (not only what fits on that tiny calendar square but apropos of my sense of humor) was a supportive, heartwarming gathering that made me (“Princess Gray Cloud”) feel a bit warm, fuzzy, and teary with nostalgia (which I confirm can, in fact, happen mere hours after you are done with your full time employee status).  It’s hard to make the decision to leave one chapter of your professional life, when you thought it would be your infinite niche. Then it turns out— Shit!— the work you embrace with a fiery passion isn’t built for a balanced version of yourself in the long haul.  Not right now, at least.

It’s hard to leave a group of therapists  who have impassioned me despite my innate calling to wander.  This trip to Argentina has been planned for more than a year (and for reasons unrelated to my next chapter to be a travel PT) but it is fitting to have an exciting, international journey to catalyze my other coinciding new life adventure.

Lucky for me (and the spirit of this blog!), this introspective gray cloud crap stops here.  What happens between now and all this life-altering hullabaloo is some bad ass Argentine fun!! I love me some Spanish-y goodness. 🙂

… Mom’s here from AZ! Packing and final preparations tomorrow. Departing Saturday morning! Whoot whoot!

Holla.

– Jen