Home on the Road: An OT and Her RV
If Alex Samson, OT, ever wants a “Home Sweet Home” sign, she might need to opt for one that says “Camper Sweet Camper” instead.
Samson recently purchased an RV and plans to make it her home on wheels while she works as a traveling occupational therapist on assignments with AMN Healthcare.
“That’s the biggest perk, feeling like my camper is home and having it with me,” she said. “I can drive it, park it and have it with me.”
The RV vs. company housing decision
As an occupational therapist traveler, Samson had already culled down her belongings to the point where she didn’t have that much stuff to move around. She did keep a few things in storage, but part of her longed to avoid packing everything up when it was time to move on to the next assignment.
She started mulling over the idea of purchasing some kind of motorhome. The thought of having her own permanent space and not having to pay rent while she was on the road (or deal with setting up utilities, etc.) sounded very appealing. She could use the housing stipend from AMN Healthcare to help with her expenses, instead of choosing the company-paid housing.
“I also have a very large dog, and it’s been hard to find housing,” she noted, adding that Nala, her border collie-Great Pyreneex mix, weighs at least 80 pounds. Housing specialists at AMN Healthcare can help find pet-friendly housing, but there are fewer apartment complexes that allow large dog breeds.
A few weeks after first considering the idea, Samson found herself the proud owner of Verna Jean, a 22-foot-long camper that she can hitch up to her SUV.
“It has everything you need--kitchen, bathroom, shower, bedroom…a space for closet and office,” she said. “It will definitely be a change to such tight quarters, but the fact that everything will be with me and no more packing and unpacking--and hopefully quick clean-up--will be worth it!”
Acquiring a different kind of rehab skills
Samson is currently in the process of “rehabbing” the trailer so it can be a warm, welcoming home at the end of a long day of work.
It’s definitely a work in progress. When she’s not at her travel OT job, Samson is devoted to remodeling her new home. She has already learned some new skills, such as how to rip out old upholstery, repair electrical problems and so on. She laughingly admitted that she has spent a fair amount of time asking Google, perusing Pinterest, and journeying to Lowe’s and Home Depot for help with this big project.
What travel OT has taught her
As an occupational therapist, Samson is already used to learning new skills and applying them to specific situations. Traveling as an OT has also helped her hone her skills. She’s worked with a variety of patients in a variety of settings, including skilled nursing facilities, hospitals and even a pediatrics unit. Her travel assignments have also given her exposure to the differences in how facilities operate, which has been very useful. And she’s benefited from the expertise of the colleagues with whom she has worked.
“That’s probably my favorite part, just meeting new people and gaining those friendships,” she said.
Plus, she’s gotten to explore some new parts of the country. Samson, who is originally from Maine, originally applied for an assignment in Colorado but wound up taking a job in Montana.
She is just finishing up an assignment, and she, Nala and Verna Jean may be moving on soon.
“I’m hoping that I can just up and leave and find an RV camp wherever I go,” she said. “They already accept dogs for the most part.”
Her advice for potential travelers
Samson’s advice for other occupational therapists who might be considering a travel gig: be flexible and open-minded. There is so much that you can learn from working with a new therapy team. Ask questions and commit yourself to getting as much out of the experience that you can--including both your professional and your personal time on the road.
She also has a word of advice to anyone else who might be inspired to follow her lead and become an RV enthusiast: “Just go ahead and get a truck or motorhome,” she said, noting that she did trade her car in for a larger vehicle when she joined the ranks of RV owners.
And this happy camper is now looking forward to new adventures in her home on the road. Begin your own journey by searching OT travel jobs below.