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Puppy love: Traveling with man's & woman's best friend

For many people, pets are a very special part of the family, and there is no question as to whether or not their animals would travel with them on vacation or short trips. As a recent HTe-news survey discovered, a number of traveling healthcare professionals share these feelings. Nearly as many respondents stated they would "most likely" take their pets to their next assignment (18%) as those who would travel with their spouses (20%).

"I have heard of some travel nurses wanting to take their horses with them and know of a few who bring less traditional 'household' pets—like rabbits and exotic birds—on the road," says Cassandra Lindquist, manager of training and recruitment for Wilton, Connecticut-based Onward Healthcare. "While cats are popular companions for a good number of traveling professionals, dogs are definitely the Number One take-along pet."

Of course, having your treasured canine accompany you on the road presents a bit of a twist to the customary assignment arrangements. There is a different set of details to consider, not the least of which include suitable housing and the ability to meet your pet's daily needs. Read on to learn how some travelers make the necessary adjustments so they and their best friends can experience the mobile lifestyle together.

Heading north

Vegas (left) and Saber pose en route at a pet-friendly hotel.
Deborah Reynolds, FNP-C, MS, a nurse practitioner who specializes in emergency medicine, spent the majority her 27-year career living and practicing in the South. She was accustomed to caring for patients in a moderately sized emergency department and enjoyed the temperate climate and genteel Georgian culture. Yet she also was excited by the idea of change. "Professionally, I needed a regrouping to see if this was how I wanted to continue my practice."

So when the opportunity to start a mobile career arose, she grabbed it, signing on with Cirrus Medical Staffing, a travel company situated in Charlotte, North Carolina. What made it even more special was the fact that Deborah's first contract was at Red Lake Hospital (RLH) on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota. "I liked the idea of being in a position to treat a high-risk patient population. It was everything I wanted in an assignment."

However, Deborah almost had to decline the opportunity when she discovered she could not have her two Siberian huskies, 4-year-old Saber and 1-year-old Vegas, by her side. "The Reservation housing did not allow pets, so I initially agreed to a 6-week assignment without my dogs. But after all the paperwork was reviewed, I was offered a 16-week contract. That length of time would have been too long to be away from them, so I turned to my staffing agency for support." She laughs, "My daughters Channing and Lianna, who are adults living on their own, and Cameron, who lives with his father, teased me, saying, 'Mom, you'll leave your kids behind, but not your dogs!'

Home sweet Home
"Saber and Vegas are security for me as a single woman living alone. They are not aggressive animals, but they look intimidating, and that is protection enough, as far as I am concerned."

Before entering into contracts with healthcare professionals, staffing agencies conduct a series of rigorous assessments, checking applicants' credentials and prior work histories, among other criteria. These evaluations help company representatives determine candidates' proficiencies within their disciplines and specialty areas.

A few years ago, Richard Mahnke, a physical therapist (PT)—who prefers to be called Rick—was going through a divorce and working at an outpatient clinic in Buffalo, New York, which is home to a few physical therapy schools. "I found that the number of schools in the city had an effect on pay scale," he says. "In addition to wanting to make a fresh start in my personal life, I craved more professional options and knew it would be a good time to brush up on my clinical skills."

In certain circumstances, patients in the Peach State no longer need a referral from a doctor to see a PT. On April 27, Governor Sonny Perdue signed HB 801 into law. Anne Thompson, PT, EdD, president of the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia says, "We've worked for many years to achieve the first steps in direct access for the patients we serve in Georgia."

Developed by Advanced Practice Systems (APS), Physical Therapy Office System (PTOS) was created specifically for physical therapy practices. Last month, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) publicly endorsed the innovative software, which helps practices increase their organization and prosperity by providing comprehensive support and a variety of reports and other tracking features for easily monitoring data.

Margie Stanford, RN, is enjoying her first assignment in one of the Twin Cities. The Charleston, Mississippi, native feels especially welcomed by her coworkers and patients.

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