December 28th was my last day at my permanent position and on December 31st everything that did not fit into my car was sold, given away, or trashed as I started my journey as traveling physical therapist. I have never felt more free in my life. I am free from my stuff, I am free to travel where I want to, and I can work as much or as little as I want. To be honest, I was not expecting to feel this kind of freedom. Now, I cannot get enough it.
The idea to work as a travel therapist was one that I have had for some time. The idea first occurred to me in graduate school as my student loan debt continued to climb and prospects as a newly graduated therapist remained stagnant. I knew then that my student loans were going to be a problem and my plan to tackle that problem was to do travel therapy. As a traveler your net pay is significantly more than a permanent salary and for a new physical therapist it can be double. When the time came to start applying for jobs I sought out the advice of my mentors to see if traveling would be right for me. I asked one my best and closest mentors Melissa (who is also a PT) where she would go if she could work anywhere as physical therapist. She said one of the top Neuro-rehab hospitals like Rehab Institute of Chicago. So I did just that and applied tia of the top neuro rehab hospitals. Pursuing a top neuro-rehab hospital and then working for one was the best thing I could have done for my own career and my patients past, present, and future. What I learned there and who I was able to become while there was the dream. It was everything I hoped physical therapy could be. Like I told my manager when I resigned, I could l have worked there forever. However, after working there my dream expanded and I needed to become financially free to make that dream happen.
A deeper and much less understood reason for choosing contract work has also surfaced. I have spent the last ten years of my life relentlessly pursing the dream of learning something so that I may help others and then finding an environment that I could let that dream manifest. That is not the only dream that I have. I have dreams of traveling the world, of meeting and living with every kind of person, and of exploring the most remote places. I have always placed my dream of becoming a PT above all of my other dreams. Now as I search for a way to free myself to make my next move as a PT I see that I found time and a space for my other dreams.
I have only just begun, but the more that I think about the possibilities of my current situation the more excited I become. I am slowly realizing that I can explore these other dreams without guilt. I can choose adventure and travel without having a reason other than my own hopes and dreams. In this place I have found incredible freedom.
I am currently reading the Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna. First of all I highly recommend the book. The book explores the shoulds and musts in our lives. This book was given to me by a patient. I have to admit that when I began reading it I felt like I already had it all figured out. I was already living my must. The more I read the more I discovered that while I am living my must, there are many shoulds that have crept into my must. I put up with shoulds like I should work with only the most challenging patients, I should have a secure full-time job with benefits, I should live in one area so I can meet someone to create a new life with, I should complete a residency to further my clinical expertise, I should live close to family, I should continue to work in my current position because I owe it to my team, and the list goes on and on. None of these shoulds are negative things and I can have each of them as I pursue my must, but they may look different. As I continued to read I discovered that I have a lot of what I like to call side dreams. These side dreams are just as much a must for me as my big dream is. These side dreams have been put on hold or squeezed in along the way to the big dream. Now I have found ample space for these side dreams. As I pursue these side dreams I have to come realize that they are not side dreams at all . These dreams are a must for me. Just as much must as becoming a PT was. I had no idea that I had been ignoring large parts of myself for so long.
As I jump into this world of travel physical therapy I look forward to incorporating these new experiences into my big must. My must to learn something significant and then give it away. My must to develop others so that they may participate within their communities. My must to tell my story and hear the story of others. What are your musts? I would love to hear them.