An American laboratorian recounts her time as a travel MLP.
I am from New Orleans, Louisiana originally, but I’ve been a MLS for 16 years and have been traveling as a MLP generalist for nine years. After graduation, I worked at Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe, Louisiana for six years. I wanted a change. I wanted to get out of the box. I read about traveling as an MLP and decided to give it a try.
I loved the idea of getting the opportunity to work at various hospitals with different degrees of workload, learn new instrumentation and meet new people. It was just great to do what I love to do and travel the U.S. At the same time, I was paid to do it.
One downside of being a traveling MLP is that you are away from your family and friends, and holidays can be very lonely at times. I cannot lie-I do get a little homesick at times, but I have met such wonderful friends everywhere I have traveled and worked. I can honestly say that, if I am not working the holiday, I never spend it alone because someone takes me in and shares their family and holiday with me.
For someone who doesn’t know about being a travel MLP or is looking to get started, I would suggest that two years of bench work is necessary before even thinking about traveling. Flexibility is vital. You need to adapt to a new environment in a short amount of time. You need to be a team player, maintain a positive attitude and be able to acclimate well to a variety of settings. Always be honest about your skills-if you don’t feel comfortable doing something, don’t sugar coat it. Your contracted employer will expect that you know how to do the procedure, and you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
When looking at the dollar value of working as a travel MLP, look at the whole picture of all of the benefits rather than just the hourly wage. If you are willing to travel anywhere and work all shifts, you will never be without a job. Just remember that hospitals hire travelers for assignments to fill in shifts as needed and help where they have vacancies whether it is day shift, evenings or overnight shifts. Flexibility is the key.
An assignment is typically 13 weeks. You can choose where you would like to go. You will be matched with an assignment that fits your personal and professional goals while you learn new skills and expand your resume. You will have an opportunity to experience new places, see the sights and grow as a professional at the same time.
Some benefits of traveling as a MLS include:
- Health, dental, vision, short term disability, life insurance and 401K
- Licensure reimbursement
- Travel reimbursement, per diem, car allowance
- Continuing Education reimbursement
- Paid housing
It also helps when you work for a great company. I am fortunate that my employer has great recruiters who make me feel like family.
I would recommend travel for anyone who works in the lab if they are able to do it. You get to meet a lot of people and work on many different instruments and perform some testing that you would not otherwise do. It is a challenge, but if you are ready for a challenge, go for it! I did and wouldn’t trade it for anything. As Dr. Suess1says, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, SO.Get on your way.”
1. Dr. Suess. Oh, The Places You’ll Go (1990).