We talk a lot about our travel nurses but did you know AB Staffing also places travel social workers? We sat down with Jennifer to discuss what her experience has been like working with Indian Health Services as a Clinical Social Worker in Northern Arizona, Montana, and Minnesota. She admits there are pros and cons, but that overall it has been a good experience. She has been able to utilize her education, expand her skills, impact community, and experience new cultures.
Like so many of our medical professionals, the timing was right for Jennifer to take a contract as a travel social worker.
“My husband had lost his job and the position I had at the time was not going to cover all of our expenses. Just after I had gotten my license in the state of Arizona, a recruiter reached out and the opportunity presented was a great fit for our family. I never thought about traveling but now realize I travel to learn things I didn’t know I needed to know.”
Since that time, Jennifer has begun working with AB Staffing recruiter, Norma, who placed her in a contract with Indian Health Services in Northern Arizona.
Not only has Jennifer been able to provide for her family and travel to new places, she was able to put her social work skills and experience into action.
“I have worked in social services for 10 years with experience in schools, mental health, medical, long-term care, home health, crisis, and as a first responder in a fire department. I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work and am currently a Doctor of Social Work candidate. My dissertation focuses on non-tribal clinician’s ethical decision making processes and clinical practices when working with Indigenous populations. I also create 5-minute podcasts about traveling, have hosted a twitter chat for #MacroSW, and am currently writing a feature for the New Social Worker Magazine.”
Jennifer is working at an IHS facility in Montana. While the area is somewhat rural, she says it isn’t as remote as her contract in Northern Arizona.
“We are currently doing summer programming that has a lot of flexibility. We are provided tools and serve the community all summer so that when school is in session, we have already built a rapport with the people.”
The flexibility of working in behavioral settings is what she likes most because there is always an opportunity to learn, grow, and observe. What she likes least is that the weather is heating up and her current home doesn’t have air conditioning.
We asked what advice she would give to social workers considering travel contracts and she said,
“Be flexible. Never assume you know everything. Be open to learning. Travel social workers who are successful are able to work independently, and are highly motivated, and charismatic to a degree.”
If you’re considering working with Indian Health Services, Jennifer offers this advice,
“Similar to accepting a general travel social worker contract, working with IHS is hard work. I recommend not taking work home. It is better to give yourself breaks. Go on adventures. Pick up a new hobby. Stay active. Don’t rely on a standard routine.”
Like so many of our travel medical professionals, Jennifer loves to enjoy the outdoors.
“As a graduate student, I need to find a balance between work, school work, and self-care. I have started hiking in national, state, and provincial parks. Over the Fourth of July weekend, I drove to Calgary and then spent a day in Canmore and Banff. Alberta, Canada is a beautiful place. I highly recommend taking adventures and seeing new places while on assignment.”
She loves the opportunities and experiences of being a travel social worker. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your experience with us!