Employed + Military Spouse: Is It Possible To Be Both?
- Published on August 10
Emily is a military spouse and occupational therapist currently stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. She is the owner of Function in Wellness, LLC, a mobile occupational therapy practice for adult rehabilitation services. Check out her Instagram for mobile therapy resources and treatment ideas on at @functioninwellness_ot.
Written by: Emily Moricz, OTR/L
Finding a job in the ever-changing healthcare environment is hard enough; add in the role of military spouse and you’ve got your work cut out for you. The average military family relocates every 2-3 years, and most frequently across state lines. Applying for a license, requesting references, and accounting for lapses in your employment history (such as moving outside of the U.S.) can take months to complete, if you’re lucky to find a job right after moving.
After moving to 3 different cities in the past 5 years and working in 7 different settings, I’ve learned a few helpful tips for successfully staying employed in the occupational therapy field as a military spouse. Luckily, where there are sick or injured people, there’s a job for me! The key is to know where to find them. If you’re persistent, creative (as every good therapist is), and resourceful, you can stay gainfully employed and build a stellar resume while you’re at it.
Here are some of my go-to tips for finding a job when you move frequently:
Frequently search on job boards
Job boards are helpful, but you need to be selective. Only sign up for one or two, because the likelihood of missing a job alert increases as the influx of emails (and spam) increases. Try jobsfortherapists.com for therapy-specific job listings, or consider joining Blue Star PT's, PTA's, OT's, COTA's, & SLP's Facebook group for current therapy jobs listed by and for military spouses. This Facebook group can only be found if you are a member so if you'd like to join, send me a message and I can add you!
Before applying for a new state license, research if your state is part of a licensure compact. Essentially, if you are moving to a state that is a part of your discipline’s licensure compact, your licensing process will be expedited by allowing you to practice under “compact privilege.”
Sometimes it may benefit your job search (and bank account) to think outside the box and transition to a non-clinical job. While you may not be involved in direct patient care, you will still be able to use your clinical skills. These jobs look like: clinical liaisons, utilization reviewers, care coordinators, clinical managers, adaptive equipment specialists, healthcare project managers, etc. And the best part? These jobs tend to have better hours and higher salaries. Win-win! Check out Non-Clinical Networking & Jobs for Rehab (PT, OT, SLP) Professionals Facebook group for frequent postings and ideas about non-clinical positions.
Facilities often hire PRN positions via word of mouth and skip advertising, which is not helpful if you are new to an area. Sending an email or leaving a voicemail is an easy way to get your foot in the door for working at a desired facility. While they may not need you at that moment, they may give you a call as the caseload builds. The worst that can happen is you get a “no, thank you.”
Stay within company
If you are already working for a company that you like, consider asking if they are contracted in any facilities near where you’re moving. This benefits both parties because you don’t have to spend time on orientation, and they don’t need to spend money on onboarding a new person.
Start your own business
This option takes a little more effort and a deep-dive into your state’s practice and business laws, but has the most potential. By establishing your own LLC, you are able to practice on your own time and set your own rates. After our most recent move, I decided to go this path in addition to my PRN job; I have more flexibility, which is so important as a military spouse dealing with the ever-changing schedule of my service member. Moreover, I can treat my target population with less institutional/insurance barriers and more freedom (goodbye, productivity standards!).
Military spouse employment can be challenging, but not impossible. As therapists, all we have to do is what we do best–adapt and modify!