My name is Linda Chu, and I am an occupational therapist working with Preferred Healthcare Staffing. I wanted to share my story. I hope that I’ll be able to help other young OTs and PTs get more insight about practicing as a travel therapist and what it is like working with Preferred.
My decision to become an occupational therapist was not straightforward. I attended a career day in high school, where I fell in love with physical therapy. Consequently, I decided to apply to PT school. During my studies, I found that I did not like physical therapy, and instead became a psychology and gerontology double major.
It was during my remaining college career and studies that my desire and affinity for traveling ultimately influenced me to pursue occupational therapy with the goal of becoming a traveler.
My first years of travel
I graduated OT School in December of 1993, and have been traveling ever since.
I’m lucky that my career has allowed me to travel to amazing cities. I got my first OT job in January 1994. I did one year of acute rehabilitation, then traveled all over the country for two years.
Afterward, I worked in London for one year. Then, I returned to the USA to work in New York City for three years. However, I loved working in London so much that I returned to work there in various hospitals for eight years.
Most recently, I decided to move back to the states and found a new home in San Francisco. In 2011, I started working with Preferred Healthcare Staffing.
I actually had known about Preferred from doing some registry work in Los Angeles in 1995. At this time, there wasn’t really internet yet, so I had actually learned about them in an AOTA magazine job ad. My experience with them early on in my career ultimately made it an easy decision to connect with them again in 2011.
Things that make Preferred stand out
Preferred offers competitive compensation for both travel and registry jobs. They offer medical benefits and paid time off, including sick time. Above all, however, the culture at Preferred and all of the staff members who embody it are what really set Preferred apart. Preferred’s number-one goal is to ensure that their employees and travelers have the support system they need to succeed.
Preferred’s mission: Passion, Honesty, Service
The process of getting started at Preferred
Shortly after I applied for the job at Preferred, I was contacted and brought in for the interview. The interview was more like a conversation to be quite honest. Everyone was extremely friendly and spent time answering my questions and giving me the information I needed to ultimately make a decision.
Preferred ensures you feel extremely comfortable early on in your career. They aren’t pushy; they want you to earn your salary, but they want you to really enjoy your experience along the way. They do not push you to take jobs that you don’t want or that might not be a good fit for you, which can be the case with other companies.
Preferred also helps you navigate some of the difficult things associated with getting started in your career, especially as it relates to being out in the real world by yourself and seeing patients on your own. Preferred also helps with credentialing which can be extremely time-consuming and challenging, which removes a tremendous amount of stress.
Discover How Preferred Helps First-Time Travelers
An average workday with Preferred
My average workweek consists of working Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 4:00pm or 8:00am to 4:30pm. I do work weekends on rotation but have holidays off.
On average, I see six to seven patients a day, typically all adults. These types of patient cases can encompass anything from cardiology, general medical, trauma, ICU, or orthopedics.
My favorite assignment by far was at The Los Angeles County Hospital. There I was exposed to all kinds of settings (plastic surgery, burn unit, etc.) which really allowed me to hone my skills. The scope of care provided was so large that I had a great opportunity to learn. Beyond that, I have fond memories working there because of the people I met, both coworkers and patients.
As a traveler, I usually don’t do a lot of administrative work. The amount differs at each facility, but typically, other than your normal note-taking and documentation, there isn’t much beyond that.
Growing as a clinician and traveler
Over the years working as a traveler, I have really grown as a clinician. Working in so many different hospital settings and being exposed to so many different types of patients really gives you the opportunity to not only perfect your skills but to grow them in areas you might not have been able to before.
Working with Preferred has given me the opportunity to grow as a clinician with a company that shares my specific values. My core values are honesty, compassion, understanding, and efficiency. Similarly, the core values at Preferred are passion, honesty, and service. These core values are prevalent throughout everything they do, from the employees that work there, to the facilities they choose to work with.
For therapists just getting started out, I could not recommend a better company to work for. If you are adventurous and flexible and ready to roll with the punches, then traveling could be the perfect career pathway for you.