Healthcare Professionals

Are Traveling Medical Jobs Worth It? Pros and Cons of Traveling


September 14, 2022

Venturing off on your own to a new city and a new traveling medical job is scary. Doing your research, having the right mindset, and level-setting expectations makes all the difference. Read on as Erica Harvitt, travel Occupational Therapist, shares her story…

I started as a traveler for my first job out of grad school. I am a pretty independent person, but I was scared! My biggest worry being: What if I have no idea what I’m doing? Maybe that is a feeling all of us have right out of school. Trust me, you know WAY more than you think. Also – you are fresh out of school, you have retained in your brain things that veterans have long forgotten. Sometimes they will ask YOU questions.

Secondary concerns that came up: Where will I live? How do I get there? Who will I hang out with? What do I bring?

Trust me when I say, none of these things will scare you after your first assignment or two. This is a life you get used to. I have been traveling for 6 years now, and I haven’t even been on a contract for over a year. Long-term leases scare me now! My 30-something self is not grown enough to be owning furniture. (Add that to the con list, travelers tend to hit life milestones a little later than everyone else- because we’re busy seeing all the places!)

Pros of Traveling: Benefits of Contract Employees

So let’s talk about all of the good things that come with travel.

  • The adventure. You get to see the country, and between contracts see the world if you want!
  • The freedom. You make your own schedule. You tell the agency what days/weeks you need off before you sign your contract.
  • The money. Travelers can earn anywhere from 20% to 200% more than their perm counterparts each week with a traveling medical job.
  • The friends. Are you an adventurous person? So are the other travelers. Facebook communities and apps like MedVenture will connect you with other travelers in your area to hang out with.
  • The experience. Travelers get to live in a new house every few months. I have stayed in an RV, a downtown apartment over a coffee shop, a beautiful studio on a hill in east bay CA, and an insane condo with floor-to-ceiling windows on 2 sides, plus a private rooftop pool.

Okay, that all sounds great, but what are the downsides?

Cons of Traveling: Disadvantages of Contract Employment

There are several reasons why the traveling lifestyle isn’t for everyone.

  • Isolation. You will go from knowing tons of people in your town, to knowing no one. You will have to make an effort to make new friends and be involved in online communities. You also must be okay doing things alone, or learn to enjoy being solo!
  • You will be your own backup. What if your car breaks down? What if it gets broken into? What if you break yourself and can’t walk and need someone to pick you up at the hospital? You will have to learn to handle these things on your own and be self-sufficient. But you know what? You learn! We all do. Being a Traveler will make you so independent your loved ones might not recognize you.
  • Appointments. Just plan on those being a huge pain. You won’t be able to go to your normal dentist/doctor/hairdresser unless you plan on flying home every time the need pops up. Getting used to having new providers and long waits to get in (maybe until the end of your assignment) is something you have to get used to. But hey, now we have online same-day medical appointments, and maybe you want to spend less on your hair anyway.

So all in all are traveling medical jobs worth it? I have been a traveler for 6 years and say a resounding “yes!”. I have lived in so many places, visited so many counties, learned to work in countless work environments and specialties and I am now SO independent, I can handle anything (Knock on wood).

Thank you to Kamana partner Erica Harvitt, CEO at The LIST, for contributing the content of this blog.

About Erica Harvitt, OT
Erica Harvitt is 6-year Travel Occupational Therapist and 3-year owner of The LIST – a live travel healthcare job board where you can see recruiter reviews from other travelers and apply to jobs in real-time. She regularly shares information on what it’s like to be a travel healthcare provider over at The LIST’s blog, so check out her videos and articles as she takes you along for the ride.

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