Missouri, where do I even start other than to say it’s just another way to spell “misery” *insert punchline drum effect*. I was placed in 3 towns in what they call the “boot heel” of Missouri and each town had a population of roughly 1,000 people. I stayed in 2 air bnb’s while I was there, and the 1 I stayed in longer was 40min to an hour from my facilities depending on which I was heading to or from. “Why would you pick something so far?!” BECAUSE THERE WAS LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE CLOSER. Every air bnb was about that far from the facilities. My DOR lived in a different freaking state! 3 of my 4 regular therapy coworkers had about the same drive as I did.
I am writing this several months after my contract has ended (once I get caught up, I’ll do better at writing about each assignment as it happens). But I will sum it up with a few snippets including my 1st day, a week from hell, and the lessons I learned.
Day 1: So after spending the day being bombarded with information, though hindsight it was not enough b/c there were plenty of times I didn’t know what equipment we had nor where to find things, and learning a new computer system (always the WORST), I was exhausted. I had driven an hour with nothing but cotton fields for my view and mentally preparing myself. I don’t remember much from my first day, but I do remember finally leaving the facility trying to figure out where the hell I’m supposed to turn when I see blue lights behind me, on an unmarked black pick up truck. “…. you’ve GOT to be kidding me”. Now I can spot an unmarked cop car from a mile away, they always have those weird special lights on the side mirror. But this was this man’s personal truck! All I could think was I’m going to get a ticket or be arrested and stuck in this hell hole. This man rolls out in his purple pull-over half zip asking if I saw the speed limit with flashing lights. Ya’ll my mother is going to kill me when she reads this but I was speeding in a school zone, YIKES. In my defense, the speed limit goes from 55 right to 35 which is what i was doing BUT school zone lights were apparently flashing which means it was less. However, I think school had long been out because the parking lot was empty and he didn’t give me a ticket, thank God. First lesson of this: I got lucky, be mindful of the speed limits in your assignments ESPECIALLY in small towns, they don’t always love out of town folk.
Lessons Learned on this assignment: 1.) I was told the travel therapist was having to be kept off overtime. I did not realize this meant they tried to impede her from reaching 40 hours and I did not realize that reaching 40 hours rarely occurred. I would be starting my Friday with 35 hours and my DOR telling me I need to watch my hours and not hit 40. I would work my butt off just to hit 34-36 hours a week. This meant, I was NOT making near as much as I was told, and this was extremely frustrating. On top of that, I was paying for an expensive Air bnb. I mean I could afford it, but it was not an ideal financial set-up. I brought both these issues up to my recruiter and even asked around for PRN work to make more money. This was when I learned about PDPM changes (Took effect in October and I started this job Mid-october). I learned that this caused a lot of therapists to leave this setting and a cut in hours, meaning: there were a lot of SNF openings for travel contracts and they aren’t going to pay you as much as other assignments. I also should have brought up my guaranteed hours to my DOR and my recruiter. This is something that should be negotiated before signing a contract, and I can’t remember what mine was but feel like it was not always being met. 2.) With these financial issues, I decided to search Facebook for travel groups to join and I found some great groups. These groups include:
Travel Therapy Therapists: I look at this a lot and have since posted on myself as well as replied to other posts in order to help other therapists. People post on here inquiring about what is norm in certain settings, contract norms, advice for moving to a new area, advice on if pay offered was too low or good, etc.
Travel Nursing: Places/Rooms for Rent: This is where I found my current roommate I’m living with. People post on here looking for a place to stay usually saying where the contract is, what dates, what they prefer or mentioning they have a pet. Hosts also post their place on here including pictures, info on location, rent, when it’s available etc. (I’m back in TN, but now, I am paying ⅓ of the price I was paying in Missouri).
Travel Nurse Housing-Furnished Finder: This is sponsored by the Furnished Finder site you can also search online. I usually see hosts posting on this page and the one listed above. I have posted on here looking for a place and if I don’t receive any replies, furnished finder replies with a link taking me to a list of findings of hosts on their site near me!
I have been so thankful to find these groups and if you are interested in travel, I highly recommend joining these groups.
3.) I listened to A LOT of stand up comedy on Pandora during my morning drives. Because you really need a sense of humor to live in the midwest. Seriously though, half the comedians were from the Midwest.
I’ll wrap this up with my week from hell:
It was a Monday and we had 3 to 4 admissions that needed to be evaluated at all 3 facilities. Let me break this down: Facility A was 1 hour from my place. Facility A to B was 20 ish min and Facility B to C was 20-30 min. However, Facility A to C was 45 min and Facility C was 45 min to my place. Clear as mud? Good. So I started at facility A for treatments, during lunch drove 20ish min to facility B to do 2 evals. I get there and only 1 eval is there. So I do that and the 2nd one is supposed to be gone another hour (productivity is another pain to delve into later). As I’m typing the eval, people run into the gym yelling for me to come out. A visitor had tripped on the curb and face planted in rocks. Her mouth is bleeding, she’s crying, her husband is yelling in my ear about knowing the owner (yeah those people still exist in BFE), and I’m trying to figure out what the hell is going on. I examine her legs b/c she fell on her knees, find a rag and get her face cleaned up and try to calm her down. I really did feel terrible for this lady and the husband was not helping. After the “excitement”,I go back to Facility A and finish up there with the eval (We usually traveled around our lunches to avoid being pushed back due to meals at the facility, as this again messes with productivity. If you leave a facility a little after lunch is getting served, you can make it to the next facility around when those patients are finishing lunch). It was a little after 5 when I left facility A to drive 45 min to facility C and do the last eval (the only thing I had to do at facility C). So I get there and clock in and can’t find the patient’s chart (these facilities had paper charts). I finally check the Director of Nursing’s office and the ADON is in there with the chart. She was like “Hey, I saw in his paperwork where Hospice was following the patient. So you can’t evaluate him until we get this sorted out.” Are. You. Kidding. Me. I’m texting my DOR not knowing what to do and also because I stay clocked in for drive time and I basically stayed clocked in to do no work so I worried about productivity. My MONDAY (yes this is all one day) ended with my DOR’s boss calling me asking what happened. She then went to offer a contract extension. Seriously? Listen, I will always be flattered when a contract extension is offered and I really was happy to know they were happy enough with my job to offer to extend my time with them. However… TODAY WAS NOT THE DAY. I asked for the week. The rest of the week was spent again missing evals because they were out of the building all day at a Dr. appointment 1.5 hours out of town because there are no large cities nearby. Along with my recruiter pressuring me to extend my contract although I knew in my heart I couldn’t do this another 3 months. And me weighing the pros and cons of extending or not extending. One of the biggest pros, and I will make a separate post about them, are the people I worked with. The people can easily make or break your travel assignment. They are not mentioned in here because I did not want to associate them with this somewhat negative post. They were great, and the biggest contributing factor to me ALMOST extending (and in fact texting my DOR’s boss a few days after my last day asking for an extension.. obviously that didn’t happen) my contract.