Travel PT: Swansboro & Jacksonville, North Carolina (March-July 2018)

*by Whitney*

Timeline: March-July 2018

Previous post on our travel assignment timeline:

Travel PT: Morehead City & Swansboro, NC


Our Jobs

So when I last left off, we had extended our contracts with the same outpatient orthopedic company in Eastern NC, but I switched from the Morehead City location to the Jacksonville location. We also moved to an RV park in Hubert, NC which was closer to both jobs.

New RV Site in Hubert, NC

It was a little tough for me moving to this new clinic at first. Previously there were two PT’s there, a traveler and a permanent PT; I was replacing the permanent PT who had just left the day before I started, and the other traveler was only there for one more week. A new traveler was supposed to start right away, but there ended up being about a 2 week gap without another traveler. So I was basically taking over two PT’s caseloads and was the only PT along with a permanent PTA for a week. This was pretty tough because both the prior PT’s treated very differently than me (a lot of manual therapy, dry needling, and modalities). Meeting the expectations of patients who had previously had this type of treatment, while I’m a more exercise-based therapist with a little bit of manual therapy, was challenging. There were at least a few patients who were very dissatisfied and chose not to return or not to work with me again, which was honestly a new and disheartening experience for me. Needless to say it was a rough couple weeks. They actually brought Jared over from the Swansboro clinic to help cover for part of the time until the new PT could start, which was a help for us but didn’t make much sense for Jared’s clinic.

When the new travel PT did arrive, I was the one who trained him. It was really interesting, but I was basically more like a permanent employee at this point because I had worked with both the rehab management group at this clinic and another clinic, and I had worked at these clinics previously (in 2017) and during the beginning of this contract, for a combined experience of about 9 months. So I was very familiar with the way the clinics operate, the expectations, and the EMR system.

As far as the patient population, I got to work with a larger variety at this location than I did in Morehead City, which is mostly retirees/elderly and more affluent. Whereas, Jacksonville was more well-rounded in terms of age groups and socioeconomic status, as well as having civilians, active duty military, military dependents, and military retirees due to the proximity to several military bases. It was good to be able to use some of my other skills while working with some more active and younger patients.

Jared and I had extended our contracts for a longer period than the standard 13 weeks in order to have our end dates line up with our upcoming international trip. We had originally planned 2 weeks off to go home and prepare for the trip, but then we decided to stay an additional week because they still had not found any permanent PT’s and needed us a little longer. Staying an extra week also meant we’d get to stay through the 4th of July (and get paid for a 5-day work week when we only had to work 4, because they were closed for the holiday and we had a guaranteed 40-hr work week in our contract). Because we were staying a bit longer, the other traveler’s contract actually ended before mine, even though he started after. Additionally, there was some confusion about start/end dates, and the other 2 travelers who were coming to replace me and the other traveler in Jacksonville actually started super early, so for a short period there were 4 travelers in my clinic. Then, something else strange happened, and the first traveler’s contract end date was actually earlier than he thought, so his contract suddenly ended mid-week and he had actually worked a few days over what he was supposed to. Needless to say, it was a confusing time for all of us, including the patients; tensions were a bit high and job satisfaction a bit low. Also, I was the one to train the new travelers again, because, like I said, by this point I was basically a permanent employee. But, also by this time, I was officially on the countdown to leaving for our trip!

Some of the Jacksonville Therapy Staff!

Enjoying the Coast of North Carolina

Work aside, we had a great time in Eastern North Carolina during the second part of these contracts. We were doing a lot of planning for our trip, but we were also taking advantage of the Spring/Summer there. It got pretty hot pretty quick, and we had a lot of rain/storms it seemed. But we still managed to get out and do a ton.

Some of the highlights included:

  • Going out on our friends’ boat 3 different times: once for a chilly, early-spring trip up the Neuse and Trent Rivers; once for a beautiful sunny day trip to Cape Lookout; and once on the 4th of July up the Intercoastal Waterway to our own private sandbar party! We are so grateful to these wonderful friends for all their hospitality and friendship during our time in Eastern NC, and it has truly become a lasting friendship even after we left!
  • Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Day Festival, second year in a row with the same crew, because we were there for St. Patty’s at the end of our contracts last year too!
  • Trail walking at the Cliffs of Neuse State Park, Tideland Trail in Croatan National Forest, and the Neusiok Trail in Havelock NC.
  • Easter Dinner with friends and their family (from Scotland, who we later got to see IN Scotland!)
  • Day trip to Greenville NC, where we mostly just walked around and went to a bunch of breweries!
  • Friend’s birthday party at Tactical Laser Tag and local brewery
  • Seeing my best friend from home and her family at Emerald Isle, NC for their family vacation, but we were living just 30 mins away!
  • Air Show at Marine Corps Airstation Cherry Point
  • Visits from my mom, Jared’s mom, and Jared’s brother
  • Another girls weekend with my PT school friends in the OBX (Duck, NC)
  • Weekend trip to Fayetteville NC for a CEU course and visiting a friend for a girls’ wine tasting night
  • My birthday week in NC and going home for the weekend
  • Kayaking on a private lake in Swansboro, NC


  • Taking the ferry to the beach at Bear Island
  • Camping and having a magical weekend in Ocracoke Island with our friends
  • And hanging out with work friends, outside of work!

Moving On

We had a great time during our second contract in Eastern NC and are so glad we decided to change our plans from going to the west coast and instead returned to a place we had been before. We have certainly considered staying as permanent employees and living in Eastern NC, but at the same time we are so glad to be continuing our travels.

For the last week in Eastern NC, we moved out of our camper completely (for good…?) and took it to Camping World where we bought it to have repairs done. We stayed with a wonderful friend from work and her husband in their guest room for our last week of work. We were hoping to have the repairs done and be able to sell the camper and truck before we left the country, but in the end we didn’t really have enough time to do all of that. So as of the time we left for our international trip, our camper is still in the shop getting repaired, and the truck is parked at home in Virginia. So we will see what happens with that at a later time.


We went home for 10 days between the contract end date and our flight out of the country in order to get ready for our trip and spend time with family and friends.


Stay tuned for updates from our “Around the World Trip” under the International Travel section!

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