Working prn home health can be incredibly lucrative. I know this firsthand as I’ve been able to make as much as an extra $8,000 per month just from working prn home health physical therapy while still being able to work at my full-time physical therapy job – and, if you’re a physical therapist or occupational therapist, you can too.
Unfortunately, many physical therapists and occupational therapists don’t take advantage of this potentially massive secondary income stream. Some are unaware of the opportunity to work prn home health while others are intimidated to enter a different clinical setting.
If either of these fears applies to you, be sure to read Getting Started in PRN Home Health Physical/Occupational Therapy where I both make evident the secondary income opportunity that working prn home health brings as well as explain the basic logistics of the prn home health setting.
However, if you’re ready to learn how to maximize your prn home health income, then you’ve come to the right place.
The overall concept is simple: To increase how much you make you should strive to maximize your efficiency.
In this article, I will cover:
- How to best balance your full-time physical therapy or occupational therapy job’s schedule with your prn home health job’s schedule
- How to go about scheduling your home health patients
- How to be prepared for both expected and unexpected circumstances
Then, in How I Make As Much As An Extra $8,000 Per Month Working PRN Home Health Physical Therapy – Part 2, you will learn about the following:
- How to keep your costs minimal but still be successful
- How to know which work relationships matter for different circumstances
- How and why to keep your documentation and finances organized
- How to maintain control of which patients and how many patients you see
After reading both parts of this series, you will begin to understand your unrealized income potential by better controlling each of these discussed items.
Let’s get started.
YOUR WORK SCHEDULE
You will typically have to see patients twice per week. If the patient is post-op, this may even be 3 times per week.
A typical full-time job’s work schedule may consist of a 9am-5pm shift, 5 days per week. I refer to this type of schedule as “5-8s.” I recommend keeping a schedule of 4 days per week for 10 hours per day – “4-10s.” This type of schedule can allow you to see home health patients twice per week on the days you do not work at your full-time job and still have 1 consistent day off per week to help mitigate burnout.
Yes, working 10-hour days can feel a bit more fatiguing, but having each day of the week solely devoted to only either your primary job or only your side hustle can help keep your head from spinning rather than trying to see home health patients at night after finishing a full day of work at your primary job.
If you currently don’t have a 4-10s schedule, ask your boss if it may be an option. They may consider it a plus that they can get more productivity out of you on fewer days.
SCHEDULING YOUR PATIENTS
Scheduling home health patients is a bit of an art. To maximize your efficiency, it is best to minimize the amount of time you spend driving from one patient to another. To achieve this, here are a few pointers:
Your First Phone Call:
When you call the patient for the first time to schedule your first visit, chart review their medical history in advance. Patients often have medical questions during the first phone call and making a good first impression by showing your preparedness can help make the patient more amenable to working with you and working around your schedule.
It may also be helpful to find out if you will need to park in a specific place, require a code to get through a security gate, and if they have any dogs so you can request that they be secured in another room to maximize your safety and decrease potential interference during your session.
It is also important that you ensure the patient has your phone number. This way, if the patient ends up needing to reschedule, they are able to let you know.
Scheduling According to Geographic Location:
Scheduling patients according to geographic region can make your work day much less stressful and also much more efficient.
To achieve this, schedule your patients in an order beginning with the patient that lives farthest from you and ending with the patient that lives closest to you. That way, you can minimize the time it takes to get from one patient to the next patient while also avoiding a long drive home at the end of the day.
Scheduling the Unaccommodating Patient:
Ideally, each patient will allow you to schedule them either directly before or after another patient in a similar geographic region. However, it won’t always be this easy.
If a patient is not as accommodating, try offering them just 2 timeslot options that work for you for the visit you are trying to schedule, but then also offer them the timeslot they’d prefer for the next visit. This way you can attempt to schedule your other patients in that similar geographic region closer to the time of your less accommodating patient to maintain efficiency.
Scheduling the Unreliable Patient:
Sometimes you may find yourself making a long drive to a patient’s home and the patient doesn’t answer their door. This can be quite frustrating! Sometimes they forget, sometimes they fall asleep, and sometimes it turns out they were rushed to the hospital for a legitimate medical emergency.
For more forgetful patients, try contacting them before making the drive to their home. Even though you had already scheduled this appointment previously, doing this helps reconfirm the appointment and ensures you won’t be wasting your time. After all, you won’t get paid if you don’t see the patient.
Give Yourself a Cushion:
Rather than scheduling the patient for a specific time, provide your patient with a window of time for when your appointment takes place. Usually, 30 minutes will suffice. That gives you a little leeway if you get stuck in traffic or held up by your previous patient. If you end up being ahead of schedule, you can just document on your previous patient in your car or call your patient to see if they will accommodate you early.
Early Bird Gets the Worm:
On days you are hoping to be offered more patients, try to schedule the patients you already have earlier in the day. That way, if you are offered more patients as the day goes on, you can be ready to accept them by seeing them later that same day.
The Boy Scouts were onto something when they made this their motto. When working in the home health setting, you don’t have many of the amenities you may have access to when working in a hospital or clinic. Therefore, you’ll need to think ahead.
Resources in Your Work Bag:
Your work bag is your only consistent resource when inside a patient’s home. At a minimum, be sure to have
- An electronic device to access a patient’s chart (ie iPad, laptop, etc)
- A few pairs of non-latex gloves
- A gait belt
- An automated blood pressure monitor with both regular and large adult cuff sizes
- A pulse oximeter
- A laser non-contact thermometer
- Small and large goniometers
- A few resistance bands of varying levels
- Sanitation wipes
- A small box of trash bags to have a surface to place your bag on
- A folder with pre-made HEP printouts
- A folder with paper route sheets for the patient to sign in case you cannot access the internet for an electronic signature.
Resources in Your Car:
Treat your car like your office and keep it packed with what you may need in a pinch. These items can include
- A clean pair of scrubs
- An extra pair of batteries for your blood pressure monitor and thermometer
- A stethoscope along with a manual blood pressure monitor (in case your automated blood pressure machine malfunctions)
- A box of non-latex gloves
- Garbage bags to place food wrappers in
- Disinfectant wipes
- Isolation gear if planning on accepting such patients
- OASIS SOC folders
- Chargers for your electronics
There are other items to also consider keeping in your car. Think of these as optional, yet potentially helpful:
- An Airex mat
- A beach ball or balloons that can be inflated
- An agility ladder
- Small cones
- Something to measure distance for outcome measures such as a measuring wheel or a rope cut to a specific length
- A pulley
- Small dumbbells
- Ankle weights
- Leg ergometer
Resources in Your City:
Once you get a feel for the same geographic areas you go to, make a mental note of where you can access public bathrooms (ie large grocery chains, Starbucks, etc).
FINAL THOUGHTS. . .
A lot has been covered here in Part 1, but even more ways to maximize your income potential working prn home health will be covered in the second part of this 2-part series: How I Make As Much As An Extra $8,000 Per Month Working PRN Home Health Physical Therapy – Part 2.
Do you work prn in home health? If so, any other aspects you might add? Or are you thinking about working in home health and looking for further advice? Are there any other aspects you’d like covered that this article didn’t touch upon?
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