We are pleased to welcome Tuan Scott, MA, CCC-SLP, as our guest host
for the SLP chat tonight, Monday, April 28, 2003 at 9:00pm EST. He
will be addressing the topic of working as a traveling therapist.
Tuan Scott attended both undergraduate and graduate school at
the University of Central Florida. He has worked for
five years in a variety of clinical settings with both pediatric
and adult populations. Mr. Scott has worked as a traveler for
the past year in acute, subacute, and rehab settings. His last
three traveling assignments have taken him to Baltimore, Maryland,
Honolulu, Hawaii, and San Jose, California.
<Robin> Welcome! We are chatting tonight with Tuan Scott, MA, CCC-SLP, about working
as a traveling therapist.
<Robin> He has worked as a traveler this past year and has had three assignments taking
him to Baltimore, Honolulu, and San Jose.
<nancy> Honolulu sounds good, sign me up!
<slp> I'm here as a traveler.
<slp> My assignments have not been as exciting - all over Florida and Michigan.
<Robin> Great! What kind of setting do you work in now?
<slp> I've been in all settings - good and bad in all.
<Robin> How long have you been a traveler?
<slp> About a year and a half
<Robin> Do you like it?
<slp> There is good and bad - I've had some great positions and some not so great.
Overall, I like it.
<AdrienneFSU> Please tell us what a traveling slp job involves!
<Robin> Tuan, give us some background on what its like to be a traveler,
what is expected, etc.
<AdrienneFSU> Tuan, how do you get these assignments? Do you work for a traveling SLP
<Tuan> Yes, I work for a large healthcare company.
<slp>There are a lot of companies recruiting right now for travelers - lots of new
<Tuan> I've been with one company for about a year and have just completed my third
<Julie> Please tell us about your experiences.
<Tuan> Normally I would contract for a 13 week assignment, but the facility might ask you
<Robin> What is it like coming into a new facility with each assignment..what is the
<slp> The people I've worked with have been very nice, and always go out of their way
to help me.
<slp> I've also found that its a good way to get a varied experience.
<slp> The reception I've had has been so fantastic, they usually have been without
an SLP for a while, so they are delighted you are there.
<Tuan> Before you select an assignment you interview with the director of the facility
to dicuss your clinical skills and experience.
<Robin> That brings up a good point...how much experience should you have to start
<Tuan> Usually you should complete your CFY year.
<slp> I think anyone can do it, of course its good to have a little experience, but
if you let them know up front that you may need help they can usually provide it.
<slp> I've also been asked as a "seasoned" SLP to help some of the new travelers.
<Tuan> The more experience you have the more different settings you can work in.
<slp> You have to be flexible, but the rewards are great. I've made a lot of new
friends and had a chance to work with a lot of different teams.
<Tuan> Lets talk about how you get an assignment.
<Tuan> Usually your company will offer you multiple settings.
<Tuan> Depending on your company you can request a geographic location or clinical setting,
ie, pediatric or geriatric.
<slp> That's true - demand also dictates salary and benitfits.
<Tuan> So like anything else, the more experience you have working in multiple settings,
the more choices you'll have, ie, subacute, acute, rehab, outpatient, etc.
<Tuan> Lets talk about salary.
<Tuan> Different companies will offer you different packages.
<slp> Some will ask for experienced SLPs, but the majority will accept anyone with
<Tuan> My company gives you a salary range depending on experience.
<Tuan> Different settings will offer you different salaries depending on their needs.
<slp> Lots of negotiations.
<slp> The more rural the setting, I've found, the higher the salary.
<slp> Tuan, how is it staying with the same company? Do you have to negotiate each
<Tuan> Slp, yes and no.
<Tuan> I have actually gotten a raise after each assignment secondary to my level of
experience with the company and everything is negotiable, and I mean EVERYTHING
from salary to housing and benefits, for example.
<slp> You are soooo right Tuan.
<slp> I've taken my assignments mostly based on where I wanted to be. So I had to do a
little more negotiating and playing the game.
<AdrienneFSU> Speaking of money, how do you afford to move all the time? Do you have a
"home base" or an RV or what?
<Tuan> My company paid for housing, cell phone, etc.
<Tuan> When I went to Hawaii they offered me a rental car package and they paid for my
air travel there and back!
<amy> You must do some good bargaining!
<Tuan> You have your own apartment, no roommate.
<slp> Right now I am in a bed and breakfast over looking the bay with cable, phone, etc.
<Tuan> Nice set up!
<amy> Ok, I"m jealous!
<Tuan> All utilites are paid for and my CEU courses are paid for too.
<amy> You have your own car then?
<Tuan> Normally, yes, you drive your own car from location to location.
<Tuan> They pay you for your drive time from assignment to assignment, including hotels
and meals, gas, etc.
<Tuan> Different companies will pay for different things.....make sure you work for one
that pays for your licensure.
<Tuan> Lets talk about licensure.
<Tuan> When you agree upon your location and assignment the company tells you that you
have 4-6 weeks to apply for licensure in that state.
<Tuan> Different states have different licensure policies so you need to plan ahead.
<Tuan> Each assignment is typically 13 weeks, so there is time to plan ahead for the
<amy> Once you have that state's license, if you leave and go back later do you have to
get another one?
<Tuan> Amy, no you don't as long as the license is current.
<amy> Ok, thanks.
<Tuan> Most licenses are for two years.
<Tuan> For instance, I have 4 active licenses in 4 differnet states.
<AdrienneFSU> This all sounds like a great deal! What are the down sides?
<AdrienneFSU> What's hardest part for you?
<Tuan> You live out of a suitcase or whatever you can pack into your car.
<slp> Getting lost and learning a new city, and living out of a suitcase.
<Tuan> I am lucky that my company is able to provide all the furniture and household
<Tuan> Thanks for your input slp!
<Tuan> Who would make a good traveler?
<AdrienneFSU> I give up. Who?
<Tuan> Someone who is willing to expand their clinical horizons, work in different medical
settings, and is flexible enough to work with different staff memebers and
<slp> You have to be flexible and have a sense of humor.
<slp> Can't be too set in your ways.
<Tuan> Like slp said, most places love you when you get there...they have been waiting
<Robin> Good point!
<Tuan> What they ask from you is that you be clinically competent.
<Tuan> They will teach you all the administrative paperwork for that particular setting.
<slp> Yes and it is all different, but the same.
<Tuan> Sometimes a facility will be willing to train you in a new area of clinical skills.
<slp> I got my MBS training in a teaching hospital in MI as a traveler.
<Tuan> It is important for you to be honest about your clinical skills and experience
because it might be a great setting, but if you can't work in that clincal setting,
it will not be optimal.
<AdrienneFSU> What do you do for assessment and therapy materials? I've noticed a lot of
SLPs have collected a set of materials they use often or are comfortable with.
<slp> They have provided materials in all of my assignments.
<Tuan> Ask the facility what they have in their rehab dept before you go...its part of
<Tuan> But personally, as for myself, I have my own set of professional materials that I
take with me wherever I go.
<Tuan> A big advantage is that as you travel from setting to setting you pick up new skills
and new clinical techniques as you interact with other SLPs.
<Tuan> Some places will conduct a competency review before they let you treat patients so
that they are sure you know how to do what you say you can do.
<amy> What is one example of a therapy material item that you always have with you?
<Tuan> Good question, amy...I really like the WALC.
<Tuan> Workbook for language and comprehension, something like that.
<Tuan> Basically bring your own personal reference materials.
<gmarie> Tuan, why did you become a traveling therapist? What setting did you work in
<Tuan> Gmarie, I worked in an acute hospital and acute rehab settings before traveling.
<Tuan> I became a traveler because I have always asked myself what it would be like to be
<Tuan> So one day I stopped asking and did it!
<gmarie> Thanks. I'm sure that prepared you for most of what you see as a traveler.
<Tuan> Actually in my permanent job I met three different travelers who worked for three
differnet companies and through my conversations with them, I decided to give it
<gmarie> I know physicians have a national registry for temporary assignments. Does your
company contract nationally, or just in certain states?
<Tuan> My company contracts nationally.
<Tuan> You can negotiate the quantity of hours per week you will work and also, the
duration of your assignment.
<Tuan> You can pick and choose the time off you have even while on your assignment but you
need to let them know before hand.
<gmarie> Can you subcontract with more than one company, or must you sign a non-competing
<Tuan> Good question gmarie, you can contract with more than one company...you are only
obligated to finish the assigment you have agreed to.
<slp> I've found you can negotiate even whether or not to sign a non-compete. Most
companies I've worked for haven't asked me to.
<Tuan> Thats good to know slp.
<gmarie> This is fascinating to me. The work options for SLPs seem to expand each year!
<Tuan> Most travelers work 40 hours a week, but that is also negotiable.
<Tuan> Lets talk about benefits.
<Tuan> My company pays for full health, dental, and vision insurance without any
<gmarie> Nuts and bolts question...What is the salary range? Per hour, per week, per day?
<Tuan> Pretty good, but you have to be on active contract with them.
<slp> Same here, I've even had them pay my cobra from other companies.
<Tuan> If you take a break of more than 30 days, you are not covered, so I usally take a
month off between assignments to maintain my insurance coverages.
<Tuan> You can always negotiate the insurance!
<gmarie> What's an "active" contract? Salary range info, please...
<Tuan> Salary is based on experinece.
<slp> Tuan - I'd like to know salary range too - It's good to know what to ask for.
<Tuan> Depending on your experinece, setting and the company, anywhere from $20-$30 an hour.
<Tuan> The rural settings command a greater salary because its more difficult to place
<gmarie> What settings or geographic regions provide the most "traveler" opportunities?
Where's the need?
<Tuan> You have to ask yourself what your priorities are.
<Tuan> Do you want to travel to different settings or different states or do you want to
go strictly for the money?
<slp> Or both if you negotiate well!
<Tuan> Some companies offer you big $$ for a work environment thats less than desirable.
<gmarie> In a professional sense, I want to know what needs are not being met by our
<Tuan> Marie, the need is in the west, ie, California, etc., but its constantly changing
and different companies have different "hotspots"
<gmarie> Thanks, Tuan.
<slp> North Florida has a HUGE need right now too.
<Tuan> You are only paid for when you work..there is no paid time off, even when you are
<slp> Depends on what you negotiate.
<gmarie> What is the longest term you can negotiate? When you leave, are you basically
leaving them with the same problem?
<Tuan> You can negotiate up to a year, but do you want to do that as a traveler?
<amy> Personally, do you like the traveling better than when you were at the acute care?
<Tuan> Amy, yes and no.
<Tuan> Its been fun, but you do long for a sense of permanence.
<amy> I see, thats understandable.
<Robin> Are there any other questions for Tuan, since its geting late!
<AdrienneFSU> Thanks for sharing with us tonight Tuan and slp!
<gmarie> Thanks, Tuan for the information!
<Robin> Yes, thanks for joining us.
<slp> Good luck if you decide to try it!
<amy> Thanks you!
<Tuan>Thank you for your questions but like anything else, different companies will
offer you different packages and benefits.
<Tuan> Don't be afraid to shop around and compare one company to another.
<Tuan> We are in big demand right now..use it to your advantage!
<Robin> Goodnight all..thanks for coming!