Burnt out from school or your job?
Looking to travel the country?
Unsure what field of Physical Therapy you want to go into?
Looking for increased financial freedom?
If the answer to any of these are “YES”, then becoming a Travel Physical Therapist may be for you
Now let me introduce you to Dr. Whitney Gibson, who runs the Instagram @dr.worldwidewhit and a travel PT blog. Both on her instagram and blog she offers great insight to the life as a Travel Physical Therapist, as well as offer countless resources to help you learn about and become a Travel PT. If you are interested in this unique field, or have any questions, you should contact Dr. Whitney Gibson via her instagram @dr.worldwidewhit.
Her previous blog post have included:
Whitney Gibson Graduated with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from South College in 2019, when she realized she was not entirely sure what she wanted to do. She talks in detail in her blog “Why Travel PT”, about how she was not sure on what setting she wanted to be in yet. Each setting had components she liked and disliked but none enough to commit to. She also had only seen 2 settings, so she was wanting to see more. Both of the world and of the PT field itself. With that she has since become a Travel PT and has signed travel contracts throughout Tennessee and Missouri.
Who is the person behind @dr.worldwidewhit?
What kind of Physical therapist are you?
That’s the great thing about travel, I can do all kinds of PT! Currently I am in a SNF with mostly geriatrics, but I have seen people as young as 30 in this setting.
At what age did you decide PT is what I want to do?
So funny, because high school is when I decided to pursue the PT route, but I didn’t start PT shadowing until undergrad in college and my first experiences just felt kind of boring. That was mostly due to having to sit there and watch rather than gaining more hands on experience. So my Junior year of college I shadowed at an outpatient facility and the staff was awesome and it was just and overall amazing experience. I remember calling my mom that day and being like “Mom, I just know this is what I want to do.” And she was like “Lol good because this is literally the path you have been on for years.” I went on to shadow at the clinic for several months and that PT ended up being my CI for my last clinical in PT school at a different clinic!
So what was your undergraduate degree in?
Bachelor’s in Health and Human Performance with a concentration in Exercise Science. My minor was SUPPOSED to be in Nutrition but my school did something where they stopped offering it as a degree so I didn’t have a minor.
Best way for people to get in contact with you?
Honestly DM on my @dr.worldwidewhit insta! I check that most regularly without complications of anything going to junk/spam without me noticing
Travel Therapy Information:
What are the pros and cons of being a travel PT?
Pros: The ability to experience different settings, explore the country, meet new people and make new connections (I have been offered a job and/or reference from each past assignment), good pay, I have had the opportunity to live closer to family that I’m usually several hours from. Flexibility: I have taken a week or more off in between assignments.
Cons: It can definitely be lonely and hard being away from friends and family. I have made some great friends along this journey but I miss being with my Chattanooga roommates cooking for roommate dinner night and catching up on life. COVID has also made it hard to get out and about more. Pay has decreased since PDPM changes and then COVID on top of that, 75% of assignments are in rural areas (but they can be fairly close to bigger towns/cities), stress of the unknown for what is waiting for you in your next assignment. Adjusting to a new facility such as where everything is, new documentation system, completely new way of doing things.
What are the Best blogs/ websites to learn more about travel PT?
Very flexible. Avg contract is 13 weeks but sometimes you extend (as I have been doing here). If a job opening that fits my needs opens up my recruiter will text me about the job and ask if I want to be submitted. I can say yes or no. That submission could lead to an interview call, and that could then lead to an offer. And if I am needing a break between assignments, I just let my recruiter know I don’t want to start an assignment at least 1 week after my end date at the last assignment and I take a break.
How do you find housing when you do travel PT?
Here is an article,Finding Housing for your assignments, I wrote about several different resources you can use to find housing with a little more info about them. I have not used all of them.. Yet. I have used Airbnb and the listed Facebook group. I have browsed FurnishedFinder but have not yet booked housing with it.
How do you approach going into a new clinic?
Like a sponge! I usually have to hit the ground running and the directors usually talk a mile a minute showing you the ropes and where everything is. I like to be open and absorb it all. I usually ask questions later only because I don’t think of them until I’m in the moment of doing the thing. And then I am ready to jump into action at any moment. One my first day at this current facility, I started treating only a couple hours into my first day when I’m still learning everything about that place. So be prepared to absorb a lot but also have your game face on and start working at anytime during that first day
Do you plan on being a travel PT for the long term?
Hard to say. When I first started I knew I wanted to try it at least a year. Now it has been over a year and I am definitely wanting to continue this journey. I am nervous about what my future holds in this career with covid. I have been very lucky to be able to extend multiple times with this current assignment, however, I have seen many travelers go unemployed for months now as well as transitioning to permanent positions.
Opinions on the PT Profession:
What Physical therapy topics are you most passionate about?
Compact licensure is probably what I am most passionate about. Other topics are for sure direct access though it does not affect me as much lately as I have been in the Inpatient setting since starting Travel but I think it is still something that impacts so many therapists and potential patients/clients. Lastly, being controlled by insurance, and that is why you are seeing a lot of therapists starting to go more into cash-based physical
Where do you see the physical therapy profession heading in the future?
I’m not sure. I hope the field gains a bigger audience as well as respect from other health professions. I don’t think we are fully acknowledged for all of our capabilities that we have to offer as a profession. I also hope that insurance could quit trying to dictate us so much.
Whats the biggest issue in the Physical therapy field currently?
Probably all the different reimbursement cuts and insurance interfering. Just let me treat the patient the way I know best.
Tips for Current PT students:
What advise would you give to current PT students?
1.) I am a very big advocate about self-care and finding a way to take breaks during school. HOWEVER, it is important that you establish a healthy and successful school routine first. I started PT school and thought I could balance my social life and school like I did in undergrad. That obviously did NOT go well. I then had to establish a very strict
routine with minimal social life in order to catch up. Once I finally was comfortable enough with my routine and my academic abilities, I started to loosen up a little, but I still refused to leave city limits during the semester.
2.) If you are struggling with grades or grasping material REACH OUT. Get over your pride, do not feel ashamed, and reach out to classmates for help. I feel like PT school creates this pseudo-pride for so many people that when someone is struggling they are too ashamed to reach out for help and that is unacceptable. Once you are in the program it should not be a competition. I would not be where I am without wonderful friends/roommates/classmates who were kind and patient enough to study with me and talk through material with me to help me understand it.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
My mom for sure. She was a single mother in college when she had me and she overcame so much during that time. She raised me but I also got to witness her grow as well. A close second is my Aunt Raine. I swear she could be canonized a saint, I swear.
What podcast/youtube series do you listen to?
PT related I listen to the Concussion Corner, but haven’t listened in a while.
I like crime podcasts. I highly recommend Dr. Death (the medical professionals would love that) and Dirty John. And when I get too scared, I recently got into Do you Know who my Dad is by Betches, looking into dynastic nepotism.
What is your favorite muscle in the body?
I feel basic because I would have to say the glute max. It is such a large and powerful muscle. Also, I work with geriatrics now and it is such a weak muscle in this population. My patients get so flustered when performing glute squeezes just to get that activation
initiated. They get flustered because it is definitely taboo for that generation to focus on the butt and because the exercise is difficult for them d/t this weakness and under-serving of this muscle throughout their lives! So I love to focus on the glutes with this population… also I have a big butt, so it’s gotta be my favorite muscle lol.
Who are your favorite health/physical therapy Instagram accounts?