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Preparation is key to decreasing the anxiety of the first day as a traveling therapist.


This Post will cover:

  • Tips to make sure your first day runs smoothly
  • What to pack for your first day
  • How to make sure you get the orientation you need
  • Importance of appreciation and energy on your first day



Here are a few things I do and I recommend my clients do to make sure their first day runs smoothly:

  • Before the first day, confirm report time, place, and the dress code with the recruiter. Keep in mind, if you start on a Monday, make sure you touch base with the recruiter before the previous Friday, in case they need to find out details.
  • Lay out clothes and dress to impress. I don’t believe that you can overdress on your first day to set a good impression. Look good, but functional.
  • Do a drive-by the day before, so you know where you are going. This eases the stress of trying to find the location, knowing where to park, and fighting traffic.


What to Pack on your First Day

  • Pack compliance folder/ binder. This is basically a compilation of documents that the facility may need like a PT license, driver’s license, health forms, car insurance (HH), etc. The recruiting company already has this information, but you should see the appreciation on some DOR or employee health nurse’s faces when I whip out my binder! If you aren’t sure what to include in your binder, click here to learn more about the Travel Therapist’s Toolkit.
  • Pack notebook and pen to take notes. You will be taking notes. Lots of them. So, be prepared for that.
  • Pack a lunch – with a snack that can quickly be enjoyed. I always find myself hungry- so a granola bar or protein shake (or both)- something that I can quickly enjoy to curb my hunger between breakfast and lunch for me is important. You can’t afford to waste energy being hungry on the first day.


The First Day Tips

Here is a checklist of important things for your first day:

  • Write everything down
  • Ask questions
  • Express importance of orientation for your efficiency
  • Express gratitude and appreciation

Write everything down

Find out how you learn best and do it. For me it’s writing things down, that way, if I need to, I can go back and refer to my notes for processes, steps, and where to click. I start taking notes as soon as I walk in the clinic. ESPECIALLY, writing down peoples names- the receptionist, the PTA, the tech, the billing people- as I get introduced, I write it down. I am horrible with names, so this helps to relieve the stress of trying to remember people’s names.

Ask questions

Asking questions on the first day is encouraged. Asking questions on week 6 that should have been asked on the first day is not- so great. So, get all your questions asked and write down the answers so you can refer back to it. By taking a few extra moments to take notes will keep you from having to ask the same question twice. I may even say something like “I like to write everything down- it’s how I learn best, and then, this way, I won’t have to bother you about this next time, and I can just refer to my notes…”

Express importance of orientation for your efficiency

In the same way that I may say something about taking notes, we may say something along the lines of…

We like to use the line:
“We like to spend a little more time initially getting oriented and learning the documentation system, so that we can be more efficient and productive for you in the long run.”

If you don’t learn all that you need to up front, then you are slowed by having to fix things or stop and ask questions along the way. If you learn it right and thoroughly the first time, you will be more productive. They are usually pretty receptive to this.

Express gratitude and appreciation

Last but not least, the energy that you throw out there is what you will get in return. Be grateful and appreciative for the opportunity, and they will be grateful to have you. Usually you are stepping into a clinic where the perm staff have been carrying a heavy load for a while, and your arrival means better distribution of the caseload, so they are thrilled to
have you there. If you go in there like you know everything and that they need you more than you need them, you will ruin your reputation and relationship from the start.


“People don’t always remember what you say
or even what you do, but they will always
remember how you made them feel.”
~Maya Angelou

Simple things like smiling, remembering people’s names, and sincere handshake and thanking them for the opportunity to join the team can set a great first impression right away.


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