Updated Agency Info

 Hello friends - it's been a hot minute.  I hope that everyone is doing well during this ongoing pandemic.  I wanted to update information about agencies.  This pops up every once in a while where people will ask for specific recruiter information.  I always try to pre-screen candidates just to get to know their background a little better.  I'm not going to send someone to my prized recruiters if their backgrounds/jobs don't match each other.  It's a waste of everyone's time.   There are also a lot more agencies on the market right now who are staffing for social workers.  The ones newer to the game may not be able to provide the same level of advocacy or benefits, so buyer be ware! But here's what I've got right now: If you have behavioral health outpatient or inpatient experience, I'd look at the  AMN companies , which include MedTravelers and Club Staffing.  If you want someone specific, send me a message in the comments.  I have recruiters at both co

Filing Unemployment

Things are really uncertain right now and I know some folks – nurses, PT, OT, and social workers are having their contracts canceled right now.   For many of you, this might be your first time questioning whether or not you should file unemployment. The truth is, as a contractor, you can file unemployment following the completion of each contract under the category of “Lack of Work.”   However, during this COVID Crisis, if your contract is canceled, there may be a different category you can file under, but this is going to change from state to state. The unemployment lookback period is generally 1.5 year or 18 months.   This means that if you just were canceled from a contract in North Carolina where you were for 2 months, but you worked for 6 months in the last 18 months in Florida, and that was your longest work period in those 18 months, you would actually file your unemployment claim in Florida. I always suggest filing the day after your last day of work.   Regardl

How do I become a travel social worker when my background is only mental health?

I think we can all agree that social work is a broad field, right?  And most social work skills are very transferable from one setting to another.  Mental Health care to medical care can be a rough transition, though.  Here are some of my thoughts on why: 1)       Modern day acute medical care is not set up for long-term planning, in-depth interventions, and rapport building.  It’s set up to move people to a lower level of care as quickly and safely as possible.  This means it has become more difficult to do good quality planning for long-range outcomes in an acute care setting.  So the skills that you have gained doing individual and family therapy in an outpatient or even an inpatient behavioral health hospital are less likely to transfer to modern day medical inpatient social work.  I think an exception here would be your skills working a psych ED – and this is because the goal of a psych ED is to assess quickly and move to the next level of care, whether that’s in the behav

Budgeting as a traveler

Undeniably, one of the perks of travel social work is that we are generally paid a wage that is reflective of our value.   I don’t even want to get started on how first responders, teachers, social workers are compensated on a whole in the United States, but for many people, travel work may be the first time in their careers where they can work freely without massive financial burden. But with great power, comes great responsibility… or that’s what they say.   An easy trap to fall in to, and trust me, it’s super common and incredibly human, is that we walk away from our first assignments thinking, “I made really good money, so how did I not manage to save anything?”   Simple answer is, life happens.   It’s okay.   In my past life as a music therapist, I sat on a regional board as the treasurer.   I had always been great with other people’s money, but not amazing with my own.   So I knew how to budget, but I never really followed one for myself.   I’d have a general idea of wha

Housing Resources

I'm not the biggest fan of finding my own housing while on contract, but sometimes, it's inevitable.  I have this weird thing that the less untaxable cash that flows through my hands the less liability I have with the IRS.  However, lately, even companies that almost exclusively put you up in hotels are now in the business of negotiating "all-inclusive" contracts with hospitals because it's less expensive for the hospital and it makes the agency more competitive in the staffing market. Here are the resources I've used or friends have used for housing while on contract. FurnishedFinder :   What I like about this site:  It's geared specifically towards travel nursing; the listings will tell you how close the nearest hospitals are and how walkable the locations are.   What I don't like about this site:   When you search for pet-friendly housing, it populates a list that includes housing that is clearly not pet-friendly There's no time f

License Portability

One of the major barriers we experience as travel social workers is licensure.  Every state has its own requirements on what's required to represent yourself as a social worker.  But, in addition to that, every hospital's accreditation may have licensure or certification requirements written into their guidelines.  I recently finished an assignment in a Level 1 Trauma Center Emergency Department.  This ED was in a huge teaching hospital where the social work case managers were not required to be licensed, UNLESS they were working Oncology, Transplant or in the ED.  Inpatient social work case managers were allowed to have their master's degree with no additional certification or license.  When I booked the job, I was offered a few positions in the hospital, but I was most interested in the ED.  I love the pace, I love the schedule, I love what can be accomplished. My barrier, however, was that I needed my clinical license to be approved and there were two factors affect

Explaining Your Tax-Free Stipend

This is a confusing topic for many in the travel world, period.  Not just social work, but travel nursing, PT, OT, SLP, Rad Techs, anyone, really.  The confusion, I've noticed starts when people hear about GSA rates... and then they look them up.   The GSA is the US General Services Administration.  They're responsible for setting the daily maximum reimbursement rate for lodging and meals & incidentals for the Continental United States (CONUS), whereas the Department of Defense sets the maximum reimbursement rate for Hawai'i and Alaska.  The key here is that they're setting the MAXIMUM allowable reimbursement rate, not the minimum and not the required.  They're saying that for this area of the US, at this time of year (they break down the daily rate and adjust monthly), that you can receive UP to this amount per day. The tricky part is that unfortunately, not every contract is going to even get near these rates in what they offer you in tax-free money.