9 Signs You’re a Medical Traveler (or Should Be)

A career as a medical traveler can be challenging, as it comes with numerous unusual demands. Most of these come as a result of the always-changing work environment. From constantly having to adjust to new facilities to learning new policies and procedures, there are many nuances to being a medical traveler that most healthcare professionals don't think about. Here's how travelers like you stand out:

1. Planning is Your Favorite

Planning ahead is an absolute must as a medical traveler! Travel healthcare jobs can be highly competitive. For that reason, many travelers start planning for their next assignment as soon as they accept a new job.

Planning ahead of time allows you to move from your current assignment to the next with no downtime. Starting your search early also gives you a leg up on the competition, allowing you to be selective about your next assignment opportunity.

Planning ahead also ensures you have enough time to check that you have an updated license, health information and immunization records. You also have time to update your professional resume that highlights your healthcare skillset and a list of references.

The last thing any medical traveler would want is to have their contract canceled or postponed because of an expired license. To avoid this, stop the procrastination and get organized, bottom line.

2. You Communicate Like a Pro

Most experienced medical travelers understand their objectives and priorities before taking an assignment. This means prioritizing your needs in terms of stipends, bonuses, location, contract length, housing and even shifts.

To do this, you'll need to be clear with your recruiter about your needs and overall goals, so you’re on top of your game and can weigh the pros and cons with your priority list in mind. 

If your objective is getting a strong pay package, better housing or a popular location you shouldn't be swayed by a glittering offer of a day shift. This helps keep you focused on your goals without being distracted by other appealing offers that don't meet your needs.

A negotiation is only a discussion about your expectations and needs, so don't let fear hold you back. As a medical traveler, you should earn the contracts you deserve by learning the skill of prioritizing your goals and being comfortable with every aspect of negotiating.

3. You Procrastinate on Housing

Brown Wooden Chairs

Nowadays, many medical travelers opt to find housing themselves. While this option offers them greater flexibility in choosing where to live and an opportunity to decide how much to spend on housing, they underestimate how long it takes to find the right housing.

Being a traveling medical professional is all about organization and not procrastinating. You can get great deals on rentals the farther in advance you book, naturally. For instance, a water-front rental on Lake Okoboji in June is half the price if you book it in winter months.

Another reason travelers opt to find their own housing is the tax-free housing stipend and per-diems they’re allowed. If you take on the responsibility of finding your own housing, you’ll notice your hourly will be less, but your per diem and housing allowance will be greater. This might seem backwards, but your hourly is taxed and your per diems/housing allowance are not. Therefore, if you make more hourly, but your recruiter/agency finds your housing, they will take the cost of that out of your hourly wages, which are taxed. You’ll see more tax-free income having your housing allowance taken from your hourly.

4. You're a Quick Learner

Most medical travelers' orientation covers a lot of essential details, but lasts for only a few days. For that reason, your travel career will demand quick learning and flexibility to adapt fast to new work environments.

Your travel orientation usually includes some time for you to learn the new system and other daily procedures of the unit. 

While lots of things will seem similar as you shift from one healthcare assignment to the next, every facility has its own policies and procedures for operation. You’ll want to get acquainted with the new policies and procedures from the start to ensure you do things the right way throughout your time there.

5. You're an Outside Observer

Are you a drama-free person and just love to play the role of an outside observer? Not your monkeys, not your circus type of attitude? If yes, you should consider being a medical traveler.

As an outside observer you observe, deduct and act rationally in any given situation. With little context of your team dynamic, you get the luxury of distancing yourself from conflict and obtaining your sanity.

6. Travel for Leisure is Rare

Green Mountain Near Body of Water

Medical travel pros earn an income that can allow them to have fun. However, many don’t take time to travel between assignments!

Travelers do have ethical, professional and legal obligations, which can limit their ability to have time for themselves, but we recommend building in true vacation time if your schedule allows it. Everyone needs to step away from work from time to time.

7. Tax-Stipends Reign Supreme

Stipend is the money paid to cover living expenses such as housing, meals and incidentals. Some companies give you a travel stipend, while others reimburse your expenses. Triage recruiters are educated and trained to navigate the guidelines of tax-free stipends. Whether it’s travel reimbursement, lodging or meals and incidentals, your recruiter can walk you through exploring your options.

Under the GSA (US General Services Administration), both reimbursements for expenses and stipends are non-taxable. You’ll want to keep detailed, accurate track of your expenses while traveling as a medical pro. For your own sake, but for tax purposes especially!

8. Tax Season is Rough

As a medical traveler, you should understand the process of filing separate taxes for every state you worked in that year.

It’s simple for most full-time and salaried healthcare professionals to file tax returns, but for a medical traveler, it can get a bit confusing. This is because your income includes both taxable and non-taxable pay and many IRS rules that must be adhered to. But not to worry, Travel Tax works with medical travelers to navigate complex tax returns.

9. Home is Still Your Home

While traveling is fun, you often leave behind your significant others, family, pets and friends. A home is a happy place that brings joy, unconditional love and a sense of comfort. Spending an extended time away from home can often cause a feeling of loneliness, so be honest with your recruiter if you need a break. They’re here for you.

Medical travelers can easily immerse in new communities, try new things, make new friends and can find the best spots around any town. If this sounds like you, maybe it's time to explore medical travel. You can apply now, so we can match you with the right recruiter and to stay up to date with any openings that match your profession and interests.

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