Getting Started in PRN Home Health Physical/Occupational Therapy – Part 1

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PhysicalOccupationalTherapyPRNHomeHealthGettingStarted

There are many reasons to consider taking on a second job in addition to your full-time therapy job. Since graduating from PT school, I’ve had to figure out how to pay off my student loans, save for a home, save for retirement, and prepare for having our first baby.

With the pressure quickly mounting to dedicate enough of my money towards each of these, I realized that the income from my full-time physical therapy job was not enough by itself. I needed to make more money, as I am sure you have also come to realize as well.

Thankfully, we have a leg up on the average individual because we’re healthcare professionals. Our licenses provide us https://moneymobilizer.com/the-list-of-physical-therapy-side-hustles-in-2022/ side hustle job opportunities with increased income potential and I’ve discovered that working prn (per diem) home health is one of those fantastic opportunities.

Unfortunately, home health is not one of the more common settings physical therapy students, and occupational therapy students gain exposure to when completing rotations in graduate school. This makes answering these questions difficult:

  1. Is working prn in the home health setting a good fit for you?
  2. If you think it might be a good fit, how do you prepare for working in the home health setting when you’ve had little to no experience in that setting?

That’s why this article was written: To help get you started on the right track by providing you with free information on the following:

  1. Consider if working prn home health is a realistic option for you
  2. Comparisons between working prn home health versus other more familiar physical therapy and occupational therapy settings
  3. An introduction to terminology more unique to the home health setting
  4. How to choose which home health companies to work for

In Part 1 of this 2-part series, the first two items above will be covered to help you understand that working prn home health as a physical therapist or occupational therapist is both a realistic option for you and a nice change of pace from your current full-time job.

In Getting Started in PRN Home Health Physical/Occupational Therapy – Part 2, the next two items will be discussed to decipher the often intimidating terminology commonly used in the home health setting and guide you in finding reputable companies to work for.

If you are a physical therapist or occupational therapist who wants to make more money and you are interested in realizing the potential that the prn home health setting can provide, then this article is for you.

Let’s get started.

WHY CAN WORKING PRN HOME HEALTH BE SUCH A REALISTICALLY LUCRATIVE OPTION?

When determining the income potential of a job opportunity, you should consider the net income potential. This will account for both potential income and potential expenses.

Of the existing occupational therapy and physical therapy side hustle opportunities, working prn in the home health setting may be the most lucrative direct patient care option. As a side hustle, I have been able to make as much as an extra $8,000 per month just from working prn home health.

Sometimes, the requirements needed to enter a specific job can be so overwhelming they can be considered a barrier to entry. Here are the most common requirements you will encounter with prn home health physical therapy and occupational therapy:

  1. Having a physical therapy or occupational therapy license
  2. Having the necessary equipment to perform your job
  3. Having experience in the home health setting

Let’s address each of these one at a time.

If you already have your physical therapy or occupational therapy license, you can already check number one off of the list.

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If you have a vehicle you can drive, are willing to pay for the gas to fuel that vehicle when driving to see patients, and are willing to purchase a few basic pieces of equipment (e.g. blood pressure machine), then you can also check off number two from the list.

Of course, you can always invest in purchasing additional equipment that is not required to get started in prn home health but may improve your patient outcomes – more on this in How I Made As Much An Extra $8,000 Per Month Working PRN Home Health Physical Therapy – Part 1.

Last on the list is experience. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard physical therapy, or occupational therapy colleagues mention a lack of experience keeping them from picking up a prn home health side hustle job.

Many companies, though not all, will give you some form of guidance as you get started. This can come in the form of tutorials and shadowing other prn home health therapists. After all, the more comfortable you become with the job, the more patients you will see, and the more money both you and the company can make. So, if one of the job requirements is experience, don’t let that deter you from applying.

I started slow and gradually built up my caseload as I felt comfortable. I had no experience in the home health setting when I started, despite completing PT clinical rotations and a neurologic physical therapy residency.

The rest of this article along with other prn home health articles on the Money Mobilizer will be there to help you along the way.

The bottom line: You can do this.

HOW IS PRN HOME HEALTH DIFFERENT THAN OTHER THERAPY SETTINGS?

You may currently work full-time in another therapy setting such as outpatient, inpatient acute care, skilled nursing, or acute rehabilitation. Below is a list to help you compare more familiar full-time work settings to a prn home health setting:

1. Flexibility of Workplace Environment

If you work in a clinic, hospital, or skilled nursing facility setting, you are likely accustomed to staying inside the same building your entire shift. There have even been days where I have found myself finishing my hospital shift, walking outside to my car, and only then realizing that my car must be wet because it had rained earlier!

In home health, you get to experience life outside of a building. The location you treat patients changes from one patient’s house to another, allowing for a nice change of scenery throughout the day.

2. Flexibility of Schedule

It is important that your side hustle does not compromise your primary job as that is your stable source of income and benefits. Working prn home health as a second job allows the needed flexibility to do this.

If there is potential for conflict between both job schedules, you can always refuse to take a new home health patient or reschedule your follow-up visit with an existing home health patient.

For example, when my wife got her second COVID-19 shot and did not feel well the following day, I was able to reschedule my patients to be with her.

3. You Can Refuse Patients

When discussing schedule flexibility above, the option to refuse patients was already mentioned. However, having the power to refuse new patients is great in other contexts too.

For example, what if a patient has isolation precautions and you don’t feel comfortable entering their home? This is especially applicable if you’d prefer to avoid treating patients with COVID-19.

4. Treating Patients in Their Residence

In home health, you get to see patients in their own homes rather than trying to imagine and replicate their home when working in other settings.

Not only can this help with making treatment sessions more functionally applicable, but this can also make writing therapy goals both easier and possibly more meaningful to the patient.

5. Working One-on-One with Patients for the Entire Session

Other therapy settings may provide this opportunity as well, but it is important to note that treating a patient one-on-one is the standard in the home health setting since you are by yourself.

Some practitioners can see this as a negative, preferring to have the social opportunities to mingle with co-workers.

On the other hand, others enjoy the freedom of more autonomy. Working independently builds clinical skill and confidence as you are the only expert in the room.

6. Documentation 

The home health setting is well-known for its paperwork. It can be daunting at first, but as with most things, your charting productivity will improve over time. Additionally, some companies are moving to app-based documentation systems, making charting more manageable and less time-consuming.

Also, if you’d prefer to avoid the Oasis Start of Care visit type (more on this in Getting Started in PRN Home Health Physical/Occupational Therapy – Part 2), which requires the most amount of charting, you can always refuse these patients.

FINAL THOUGHTS. . .

Now that you have a better understanding of prn home health, check out Getting Started in PRN Home Health Physical/Occupational Therapy – Part 2 to learn the terminology unique to the home health setting. While these terms are often considered overwhelming, they will be broken down and defined for easier understanding and thus help acclimate you more quickly to prn home health.

You will also receive guidance on how to choose which home health company to work for.

Do you already work prn home health? If so, can you think of any other aspects that should be considered? Or are you thinking about working in home health and looking for further advice? Before moving on, please help make the Money Mobilizer a supportive and welcoming community for our current and future colleagues by leaving a question or sharing your knowledge below!

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