Ray started his healthcare career in the military as a paramedic, then as an X-ray technician where he became interested in the wide world of medical imaging. He began pursuing a career in sonography. Sonographer, ultrasound tech – titles don’t matter to Ray. He knows what he does and he’s proud of it. The military put him through school, he obtained his ARRT certification, and the rest is history. Read more about this go-getter through a day in his life as a travel ultrasound technician.
Describe your typical day in the life of traveling ultrasound jobs.
I wake up about an hour and a half before work to give myself enough time to get ready, drive in, and make it to the hospital about 20 minutes before my shift starts. This gives me a chance to scope out the board, see what’s going on, change into scrubs, have a cup of coffee and eat some breakfast. Once I’m on the clock, I start checking exams, triaging by order of immediacy to sort out who needs to be seen first, and then I dive in. Some exams are best done in the morning or need attention due to emergency, and others that are less urgent can wait until later in the day.
I try to grab lunch every day, but it’s no guarantee in the ER – it can get crazy at any point in time and patients > lunch. Toward the end of the day, I start figuring out what I’m going to do – I may stay late if workload requires, or I might check out some local events going on in town (breweries are my favorite). While I’m traveling, I try to see the local sites so it’s not all work. If there’s something special going on in the area, like a summer concert in the park or comic convention, I’m there.
Some travelers go to work and don’t make friends – I don’t believe in that philosophy. I find that if you make friends at a facility and form connections, the staff is more willing and wants you to come back. If you’re friendly with perm staff and get to know them, they do the same for you and I truly enjoy that aspect. You never know when you’ll be back in this area, and if you’ve done your networking then you might find housing easier (and cheaper) by knowing locals. It’s also good to meet other travelers as well – you may find yourselves in the same city again at different assignments, so it’s great to have friends to meet up with in new places.
Describe what led to you wanting to be a traveling ultrasound tech.
Traveling became a necessity. Markets in some larger cities, like my hometown, can be extremely over saturated with clinicians, meaning jobs are scarce and pay is rock bottom. So I went on the road, which is a lot of fun given I was already used to moving around a lot in the military.
I enjoy getting to see places across the U.S. and doing new things. One of the first things I tell new travelers when they come to an area is to get out and experience things in the location – some people don’t, which is unfortunate.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I enjoy ultrasound because it’s very technical-driven – not just anyone can do it, and what one person might have a hard time with, others don’t. I work with radiologists a lot, so I like to know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it because it’s such a knowledge-based specialty. Reading the patient’s history and knowing the reasons why I’m doing an exam helps me tailor it, and therefore get my patients the best outcome in the long-run. I love the challenge of being able to see something difficult and something new – one little image that nobody else could diagnose is my part in saving lives.
How has working with your recruiter enriched your experience at travel ultrasound jobs?
In travel, finding the right recruiter is the big thing. Joel Heifferon, my recruiter, is up front with me on what he knows about the facility and pay situation with any assignment I’m considering. I’ve worked with him for three years and now work with him exclusively. I’ve had a couple of jobs with other companies and a bad recruiter that have left such a terrible taste in my mouth that I won’t ever go back. If you don’t get along or your recruiter thinks of you as a number, it’s going to make your life miserable. Recruiter relationship makes or breaks the job.
Much like I triage my patients based on urgency, I’ve noticed Joel does the same with his travelers. He dropped everything once when I told him about an issue with my time sheet that would affect my getting paid on time. He got it taken care of and I was paid that day because he prioritized my issue over other tasks he may have had that day. That made me feel really good.