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PT and the City

Traveling for Work

Published September 27, 2012 10:49 AM by Lisa Mueller

When I decided to enter the DPT program at Marquette University and study to become a physical therapist, there were tons of things I liked about the profession in terms of work-life balance. PTs are generally not on call and typically do not work night shifts, which is common for many other professions in health care. I liked that it was a job that offered the flexibility of working part time or full time. I can honestly say that more than 10 years ago when I made the decisions leading to my career now, I never considered that a job in physical therapy would require traveling for work -- but my writing this in Missouri is proof enough that I was wrong!

I learned a few weeks ago that we had a few new staff starting at a clinic in southern Missouri, and based on the quick turnaround time, cost and previously scheduled patients, it was more effective for me to travel to the clinic instead of bringing the new staff to our headquarters (which typically happens). While I was certainly nervous, I was also excited for an opportunity I wasn't expecting and didn't think I'd ever have in my career.

I generally enjoy traveling. I spent six months in college studying abroad in Madrid and exploring Europe on the weekends. I quickly became a professional traveler -- I could pack lightly and quickly, I understood the logistics of transportation and tremendously enjoyed the local food, wine and music. I like meeting new people and learning more about different cultures. Furthermore, traveling forces me to go with the flow instead of planning and controlling every aspect of my day. Delayed flights, closed museums and other hiccups are just part of the experience and I eventually learned to enjoy the spontaneity of traveling.

This trip included a little more responsibility and planning -- a few connecting flights, renting a car (I've never done that before) and staying at two different hotels in a three-day span. I felt like I had so much to do in the short amount of time before I departed. In regard to my work, I needed to organize training materials, confirm accounts had been set up, as well as determine the patient schedule and other logistics related to orienting new staff. In terms of traveling, I wanted to research the area, find good restaurants, make a playlist for my iPod and other things I usually do before a trip. But those two tasks together (work and personal) were a lot to complete, so I left for the airport feeling a little rushed and ill-prepared.

All in all, the trip went very smoothly. I enjoyed meeting a few new people on the plane and the drive through rural Missouri. I was able to get a lot of work done at night at the hotel and, no offense to my husband, remind myself of what life was like living alone! Most importantly, I was able to meet and work with a few more of my colleagues and learn more about rehab and physical therapy from them. I can't complain about that.

What about you? Have you ever traveled for work? Are you a traveling therapist? Do you like opportunities to travel or do you prefer to stay in one spot?

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