I am at a crossroads.
In May 2012, I traveled 5,000 + miles from Atlanta, Georgia to Kenai, Alaska (details in a previous post).During my 12 day stay, I observed 3 different SLPs – 2 in schools and 1 in private practice. After this visit, I was hooked. Now I want to live and work in Alaska as an SLP. Here we go.
Since then, I’ve flipped-flopped between waiting to work in Alaska until I finish my CF or actually doing my CF in Alaska. At the moment, I want to complete my CF in Alaska; so I’ve been looking into positions and exploring my options as both a direct hire or via staffing companies. Below is my experience with both school districts and staffing companies so far.
If a school district hires you, then it is considered a direct hire position. I’ve posed the following questions and received these answers from some Alaska School Districts:
- When do I need to apply for a CF – SLP position in a school?
- Ans: Around January/February of the same year I will be applying (2013-2014)
- Do you provide a CF supervisor?
- Ans: Yes, they will designate someone.
- Heidi Kay at Pediastaff posed great questionsto ask employers regarding CFs:
- “Find an employer who a) will need you for the entire nine months;
- b) has the means and staff to supply you with supervision, and
- c) needs you badly enough to pay for your supervision despite the fact that they will essentially be training you to leave after the year is up.”
- How do I apply for my license in the state of Alaska as an SLP- CF?
- Ans: Here is the application (as of Oct. 2012), and it takes 30-90 days to get approved.
- Does my CF Supervisor need to fill out anything in the licensure application?
- Ans: Yes, in the application (above), the CF Supervisor must submit page 5 of the license with their information (i.e. ASHA #, address, phone number, relationship to CF). Without knowing who your CF supervisor is, you cannot complete the application.
- Will I know far ahead of time if I have a position?
- Ans: They try to give letters of intention to those who they plan to hire. This means, they may not know which exact school I will be in, but it guarantees that I will have a position come Fall 2013 (If they offer me one).
Moving from Atlanta to Alaska will be quite the move. The down-side to direct hire is they may not offer travel reimbursement, housing allowance, or other monetary help for my transition; it really depends on the district contract.
A staffing company serves to help therapists find positions across the country; the therapist is paid by the company instead of the institution where they work. I have spoken with Pediastaff, a staffing company that places SLPs in schools, clinics, and hospital settings that focus on pediatrics. I have also spoken with other SLPs and staffing companies to get a wide variety of answers; here is a summary of the questions and answers:
- What are some benefits to using a staffing company over being a direct hire therapist?
- Ans: Increased pay. While staffing companies may cannot offer the same insurance schools/hospitals can, the increased hourly pay offers therapists the opportunity to supplement.
- Extras. A school therapist who works for a staffing company may not have to do the ‘extras’ that a direct hire therapist has to (i.e. bus duty, lunch room duty, etc).
- Advocate: As companies look to the staffing agency to find therapists, having a staffing consultant who knows what you are looking for and your experience, can help you find job you want, without the headache of constantly looking.
- Ability to relocate. Once your contract is over or up for renewal at a current placement, the staffing consultants can be searching positions for you based on your parameters. While the positions may come available last minute, you can rely on the company, such as Pediastaff, to continue their services outlined in your contract.
- Reimbursement: Since schools are publicly funded, they may not have the money to reimburse therapists to relocate or the cost of travel. Staffing companies usually pay per diem rates that can help off-set costs.
- Heidi Kay from Pediastaff has written an excellent post regarding selection of settings: Part 1 and Part 2
- Why do many staffing companies have such a bad rap?
- Ans: Staffing company buy-out fees. If a therapists wants out of his or her contract to become a direct hire, the company can choose to “buy out” the contract from the company. Different companies charge different fees, and this can cause tension.
- Non-compete clauses. If you are working for a staffing company(or other places too) and decide to leave, some contracts have non-compete clauses which say you cannot work within a certain radius for a certain amount of time once you leave. Depending on your situation, this can make finding work complicated.
- Off-site supervision: As a CF, you will still need supervision. If a staffing company finds/hires an off-site supervisor, this experience can bring complaints and impact the overall importance of the CF year. Thus, the company ends up with the “bad rap”. Having a supervisor nearby to bounce ideas off of or share stories creates a more positive experience. For instance, Pediastaff strives to find on-site supervisors so the experience is enhanced.
- Middlemen mentality: Staffing companies do profit from finding therapists for their client base; obviously, they are a business as well. Job seekers may not know what company or school they are applying for until things become more serious during the application process. This can take therapists by surprise if they are unaware beforehand. Being proactive during the entire process will always help!
Sheesh…this has been a process in just collecting the information and making it coherent; I hope I have succeeded. So many people have helped me during my ‘crossroads’ in deciding which avenue I want to pursue. I am still contemplating which avenue to pursue because both have so many options. *sigh* So many choices – better than none I guess. 🙂
What has your experience been? What have you heard are some negatives/positives to being a direct hire vs. using a staffing company? I’m always interested in what’s out there!
Carry on wayward blogosophere!