Traveling Respiratory Therapists
Traveling respiratory therapists perform essentially the same work as standard respiratory therapists — examining patients with respiratory ailments, using various tests to help with diagnoses, and treating and educating patients on lung and respiratory health.
The primary difference between traveling respiratory therapists and standard ones is that traveling respiratory therapists work in hospitals across the country and sometimes internationally, working relatively short, temporary assignments. These specialists move to where extra help is needed, performing the same job duties as permanent-staff respiratory therapists for several months before moving on to the next assignment. RTs who enjoy traveling to new places and meeting new people may enjoy this career path.
Who Employs Traveling Respiratory Therapists?
Though traveling respiratory therapists work in many of the same environments as permanent-staff respiratory therapists, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and residential facilities, they are technically employed by an agency which serves as an intermediary between them and the facility they work in.
When a hospital experiences greater need for respiratory therapy services than they can provide, they turn to healthcare staffing agencies to provide additional staff on a temporary basis. These staffing agencies employ traveling respiratory therapists who move into the area and work in the facility for a predetermined time period, usually 13 weeks. This time period may be longer or shorter depending on the hospital’s specific needs. Respiratory therapists who work travel assignments are paid by the agency that employs them, sometimes earning significantly more than a hospital’s permanent staff. They typically also get perks such as free housing, free health insurance, and covered professional expenses to make their traveling lifestyle easier.
How to Become a Traveling Respiratory Therapist
Like all respiratory therapists, traveling respiratory therapists need at least an associate’s degree from an accredited respiratory therapy school to begin working. They also need to become licensed in the state in which they will be working, which may take advanced planning between them and their employing agency. Most facilities require that a traveling respiratory therapist have at least a year of experience, though most have more than a year. Additionally, most healthcare facilities in the US require current documentation of background checks, drug screens, and any necessary vaccinations.
To become a traveling respiratory therapist, the best thing to do is to contact a staffing agency. Sometimes simply having a current resume available online through sites such as Absolutely Healthcare will get you noticed by agency recruiters. Also, since many respiratory therapists begin traveling through a referral, it’s a good idea to ask other respiratory therapists if they travel, and if so, to introduce you to their agency.
Traveling Respiratory Therapist Agencies
If you do not know anyone who can connect you with an agency, here is a list of popular agencies that might be able to help you: