By Stephen Stockhausen, PT, DPT, OCS, Contributing Writer, Founder of PT Adventures
As 2019 rolls in we all have change on our minds. Sometimes it is something as simple as a New Year’s resolution—that chances are you have already broken—or occasionally it is something much bigger, like changing your job. For those of you considering the latter, I am here to tell you that taking a contract in home health might be one short-term change that you stick with all year.
Why Travel PTs Should Consider Home Health In 2019
1. Join the Party
- With patients being discharged “sicker and quicker” from hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities incentivized to do the same come October of this year via the Patient-Driven Payment Model, a considerable uptick in home health admissions is to be expected.
- Early Release After Surgery (ERAS) total joint patients are popping up with increasing frequency on home health case loads. With clients foregoing the 2-5 days in a hospital bed, they are able to get up and moving much quicker under the care of a home health physical therapist.
- This is a growing field by all accounts. The travel physical therapist who has experience in this high demand field will find themselves sought after for jobs in locations where they previously could not find work. Building a stronger resume in more settings will only serve to boost your chances of landing a job in that dream location or at your goal pay rate.
2. Mo’ Money, Fewer Problems
- Speaking of pay rates, did I mention that home health is one of, if not the most, high paying setting in physical therapy? It is not unheard of for travel home health physical therapists to make over $2,200 per week after taxes.
- Add a 40 hour guaranteed contract on top of that and you have a sweet paying gig regardless of patient census. My wife and I were able to pay off around $240,000 in combined student loan debt in three years using home health jobs almost exclusively! You can read more about that story here.
- Despite all of the exciting, challenging, and lucrative aspects of home health, it may be the freedom that is the most impactful for clinicians new to the setting.
- For most agencies, a full day in home health is 4-6 patients, and depending on visit type, sometimes only two patients are required. Making things even better, at nearly all companies you get to make your own schedule. Mani-pedis with the girls after a long lunch? Want to squeeze in a mid morning trail run? Perfect! Just call your clients and move your day around accordingly.
- My wife and I have our 18-month-old daughter with us on the road, and because we are both working home health jobs we can arrange it so that we only have a nanny at our home for around five hours a day. That’s hard to accomplish in most other travel job settings.
Now, I do not want to mislead you. You will likely end up putting in your 40 hours for the week. The documentation and driving can eat into your working time more than you’d expect, but at least you are getting paid for mileage.
Still, with most systems you can document from anywhere you can get Internet service. Nestled deep into your couch, on top of a bluff overlooking the beach, or even from the patio of a beautiful vineyard. The choices are endless, and they are all available to you.
Years ago, back in PT school, it was made abundantly clear to us that home health is where therapists go to disappear. Substandard care was not the exception, but the rule, and none of us students should stoop to level occupied by the lowly home health PT. Well, I’m here to tell you that this could not be further from the truth.
Things have changed in the three years between PT school and taking my first home health job. There is an abundance of superior clinicians making their way into the home health setting. OCS, GCS, and NCS clinicians, traditionally found in outpatient or acute/subacute care are migrating to home health with increasing frequency.
Maybe it is the challenge, the excitement of a growing field, the money or the freedom. Whatever it is, clinicians are making a change in their lives and giving home health a try. Maybe this year is the right time for you to do the same.
Stephen Stockhausen is a doctor of physical therapy, a traveler, and a founder of PT Adventures—a blog created with his wife Ellen to help travel PTs take control of their career and live their dreams. You can find Stephen and Ellen exploring the country with their daughter, Kinley, and two dogs Cayenne and Layla.
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