Finding Community and Building Relationships as a Healthcare Traveler: The MedVenture Story

We often get questions from prospective healthcare travelers wondering if it’s a good idea to go into travel healthcare solo. While many solo healthcare professionals do pursue travel, it can sometimes be hard to make connections, build friendships, and find a sense of community. Even those who travel with a partner or a pet may feel isolated when taking travel contracts around the country, leaving their normal support systems and communities behind. We are excited to share a resource with you from our friends at MedVenture App about how their platform is helping to bring healthcare travelers together all across the country!

Twenty years ago, working as a traveling healthcare professional was a lot more challenging. Back then, there weren’t blogs, apps, or social media outlets to help educate you about the industry or connect you with other like-minded travelers. Traditionally, you may just learn about the industry through recruiters or a handful of other people you knew who may have traveled in the past. When you took a job far from home, you would just hope to meet other travelers while working at your facility, or try to make other connections locally with people who weren’t in travel healthcare. Fast forward to today’s digital age, the accessibility to abundant educational resources and finding everlasting relationships and community is easier now, more than ever, especially with resources like the MedVenture App

Origins of MedVenture App

MedVenture App was founded in 2019 by Emily Cheng and Ryan Cogdill, both traveling nurses with over eleven years of combined experience in the industry. Emily initially had the idea for an internet based community network in 2018 during her second travel nursing assignment in the Bay Area of California. At the time, she experienced an overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness and wondered why there wasn’t a platform to bridge this gap.

After some research, she concluded that a mobile application would be the best approach to solve this problem. In the Fall of 2019, she attended TravCon, the biggest annual conference for healthcare travelers, and was so inspired by the traveler community that she decided to fully pursue this project. Ryan was her first customer discovery call to confirm the validity of the idea. With over seven years of travel experience himself, he asked where she was in the process, how he could be of help, and what her goals were with this platform. By the end of the conversation, they decided to become business partners, and MedVenture App was born shortly after. 

What Is MedVenture App? 

MedVenture App is a free social and community mobile app exclusively for all traveling healthcare professionals. The mission is to unite and empower all traveling healthcare professionals through community, education, and resources.

There are five main functions on the app:

  1. Meet People & MedVenture Date: Connect with other travelers using geolocation and interests. On a 100 mile radius from your set location, the MedVenture algorithm will show other travelers around you. You can view their name, age, profession, home state, specialty, photos, and more. You can also see if they’re a solo traveler, traveling with a partner, traveling with a pet, and even if they are interested in using the app for dating. You can then choose to message them to chat, become friends, ask questions, plan a get together, or send them a heart to show you are romantically interested.
  2. Meetups & Events: Find local meetups and events hosted by travelers, sponsored companies, or local businesses. Interested in going on a hike, but don’t want to go alone? Post the hike under the Meetups/Events tab so other travelers can join! Any traveler can and is encouraged to host meetups to create community no matter where they are on assignment. MedVenture also hosts events around the nation, such as their annual “Friendsgivings.” In 2022, hundreds of travelers gathered across 20+ major cities to share Thanksgiving meals at MedVenture Friendsgivings!.
  3. Discussion Board: Share and discover recommendations for fun things to do, where to eat/drink, and best housing in your new city! Have a general question? Post it on the discussion board and the community will be sure to answer it. 
  4. Facility Reviews: Think Yelp meets Airbnb, but for Medical Facilities. Read reviews from past travelers so you know what you’re walking into, and rate a facility where you’ve traveled to empower travelers with your experience. With this feature, every traveler has the option to stay anonymous so that your identity is never compromised for your honesty and transparency.
  5. Traveler Resources: These are MedVenture vetted, niche specific services and products that benefit the traveling community. This is where you can find resources such as health insurance, swag, tax prep, and mentorship/education programs like the Travel Therapy Mentor Course.

In two short years since launching in 2021, the MedVenture community is now almost 16,000 traveling healthcare professionals strong, across all 50 states and US territories. There have been over 700 Meetups hosted and over 1450 facility reviews on the app.

The Future of MedVenture App

In June of 2023, MedVenture is hosting its first nationwide in-person event, MedVenture Camp! MedVenture Camp will be centered around healing and mental-health wellbeing for all traveling healthcare professionals post-pandemic. The goal is to provide a safe space for travelers and recruiters alike to come together to relax, connect, empower, and educate one another, all while having fun in the great outdoors! You can learn more and register for camp here.

MedVenture founders Em and Ryan will also be attending the world’s largest traveling healthcare conference this September, TravCon, so be sure to stop by their booth and come say hi! Em and Ryan are striving to build the best app possible to support each and every traveling healthcare professional, so this year they will be researching and preparing for their next big integration. The goal at MedVenture App is to help travelers find a greater sense of purpose, community, and connection while living their best traveler lives. As MedVenture continues to grow and nourish this community, they will continue to strive to provide all travelers with a sense of belonging.

For general travel therapy/travel healthcare questions, please feel free to contact us here at Travel Therapy Mentor

Medventure Founders Em and Ryan

Written By: MedVenture App Co-Founders, Emily Cheng, BSN, RN, CCRN-CSC & Ryan Cogdill, BSN, RN 

Emily Cheng is a CVICU traveling nurse born and raised in New York, now based in Seattle, Washington. She has been a travel nurse since 2018 and has done travel nursing in Napa & San Francisco, California; Seattle & Tacoma Washington; Oahu, Hawai’i; Upstate New York; and San Antonio, Texas. When she’s not at the hospital or working on MedVenture, you can find her hiking, backpacking, meditating, journaling, living imperfectly eco-conscious, or enjoying the outdoors in some capacity!

Ryan Cogdill is a PCU traveling nurse from Fresno, California. He has been a traveling nurse since 2014 and has worked in Guam; Maui and Oahu, Hawaii; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and San Luis Obispo, California. On his days off, you can find him outdoors camping, hiking, or biking.

House Hacking to Reduce Expenses as a Healthcare Traveler

If you’ve followed this website or our blog Fifth Wheel PT for any length of time, you probably know that I have spent a lot of time learning and writing about personal finance and investing since graduating from physical therapy school in 2015. This focus on maximizing my finances led to me reaching financial independence at age 30 and retiring from full time work as a PT.

Pursuing Travel PT as a new grad to earn significantly more than at a normal permanent job was a huge part of achieving that milestone as such a young age, but even more important than that was keeping my expenses as low as reasonably possible while traveling. As a travel therapist or other travel healthcare provider, you have to look at your savings rate, which takes into account not only your income but also your expenses, to see the big picture on how to come out ahead financially.

As a traditional travel healthcare provider, traveling with a tax home in order to receive tax free stipends, often the biggest monthly expense is housing, and this was no different for me. This is because having to pay for short term housing at the travel assignment location in addition to paying for housing expenses back home can really add up quickly.

There are some ways to reduce the expense of short term housing at your travel assignment location, but for the most part options are usually pretty limited depending on the area of your travel job. On the other hand, there are a variety of ways to reduce the total cost of maintaining your permanent tax home while on assignment by house hacking. Using some of these techniques allowed me to save a lot of money over the years, so I want to share some insights with you to help you better reduce your expenses and make travel healthcare more lucrative.

What is House Hacking?

House hacking is basically utilizing a portion or all of your house to earn income or offset expenses. Chad Carson does a great job of explaining all of the various ways of house hacking in this article. Anyone that has ever lived with a roommate has done a version of house hacking in the past. Having a two bedroom house or apartment split between two people is always going to be cheaper than having a one bedroom house or apartment to yourself, due to not only being able to split the cost of the rent or mortgage, but also utilities and any additional costs/fees.

Personally, I’ve been learning about ways to “hack” my housing costs since high school. I can remember looking at duplexes for sale when I was 18 and doing calculations on how much I could reduce my expenses by buying one, living in one side and renting the other, while also having a roommate in my side. I determined that not only could I reduce my housing costs, but I could actually live for free while simultaneously paying down the mortgage on the property by doing this in my hometown. Although I never ended up doing this after graduating high school due to going away for college, followed by PT school and then travel therapy, it’s something I still think about doing in the future.

House Hacking for Travelers

There are a few different ways that a travel healthcare provider might choose to house hack their tax home to reduce costs.

The first and most simple way is by simply renting a room in a house as their tax home, instead of having an entire house or apartment. Realistically, most travelers spend very little time throughout the year at their tax home due to spending most of the year working travel assignments or traveling for fun domestically or internationally. For my and Whitney’s entire travel careers prior to COVID, we never spent more than 6 weeks at home in any given year. Having a house or apartment sit empty for most of the year seemed wasteful to us, so for the majority of that time we each chose to rent a room in our family’s house as our tax home instead. We still had a place to keep all of our stuff and stay for the short periods while we were home, but it cost much less. We also had someone to collect our mail and keep an eye on things while we were gone.

Another way to house hack as a traveler is to buy or rent a place bigger than you’d need, and rent out rooms or get roommates to help subsidize costs. This is exactly what I had in mind when we were looking at townhouses to buy in our hometown when COVID hit and we realized we would be at home much more. We purposely bought a place with a couple of extra bedrooms so that we could have roommates or short term renters while we were out of town. By buying (or renting) an affordable place and renting out extra rooms for part or all of the year, it’s easy to make a big dent in the monthly cost of your tax home.

The last main way to house hack as a travel healthcare provider is by renting out your entire house or apartment on Airbnb, VRBO, or Furnished Finder while you’re away on assignment. This will undoubtedly offset tax home costs the most, assuming you’re able to keep occupancy relatively high, but will also lead to the most hassle. Managing a short term rental can be very lucrative but hard to manage from a distance while working. But, with a good property manager in your area that you trust, it’s certainly possible to make it work. We considered doing this when we were looking at places to buy, but ultimately decided against it due to the potential headache and issues that could arise. We also didn’t really like the idea of renting out our whole place with other people having access to our stuff. I do know a couple of travelers that have done this in the past and had a good experience along with making a decent profit though.

What About Maintaining Your Tax Home Requirements?

You may be wondering how house hacking impacts your tax home status and eligibility for tax free stipends as a travel therapist/travel healthcare provider. This is an important question to consider, and the answer depends on which of the strategies above that you choose and how you structure it.

**I do want to put the disclaimer here that I am by no means a CPA or tax professional. It’s always worth consulting a tax professional before making any decisions on your personal tax home situation. Below is my current understanding of how this works based on research I’ve done and CPAs I’ve talked to in the past. We interviewed Joe Smith from Travel Tax a couple of years ago and asked him for his advice on this as well which you can find here starting at 1:05:30 in the video.

As a quick refresher, according to the IRS, these are the rules for maintaining a tax home:

  1. You must maintain a place of permanent residence and pay expenses there (i.e. rent, own/mortgage, pay bills, pay taxes, etc.) while ALSO paying expenses at your travel location. This is called “duplicating expenses.”
  2. You must not abandon your tax home. Generally speaking, you should return there at least 30 days per year but these days don’t have to be consecutive.
  3. You must still conduct business in the area of your tax home. For example, you have a PRN job there or maintain some type of other business there.

Ideally you’d want to meet all three of these criteria but at the very least 2/3.

If you’re renting a room in a house as your tax home to house hack and save money, there should be absolutely no issue with that from a tax home perspective. Many travelers rent a room in a house or apartment from a friend or family member in their home area, keep records of payment and a lease, return to the area at least 30 days per year, and keep all of their stuff there.

If you’re renting out rooms to short term renters or roommates in a house or apartment that you own/lease, there should be no issue with this either as long as you’re keeping at least one bedroom in the house as your own. Obviously if you’re renting all of the bedrooms out in your house for the full year then this would no longer count as your tax home because you aren’t personally meeting the tax home rules above.

If you’re renting out your entire house or apartment on Airbnb, VRBO, Furnished Finder, or something similar, then that’s fine as long as you aren’t renting it out for the full year. You need to leave open time in the year for you to return home without it being rented. Something like renting out the full place for 9 months of the year while leaving a month between each assignment where you go back home and stay for a while would be ideal. Even renting a place 9 months a year on a short term basis will likely be enough to cover nearly all of the expenses of the tax home depending on your area.

Should You House Hack Your Tax Home?

House hacking your tax home is a great way to reduce your expenses while traveling to improve your financial situation more quickly. This was a key part in my own journey to achieving financial independence. With that being said, there’s undoubtedly more hassle and potential issues that go along with sharing or renting out your tax home. For that reason, it’s definitely not for all travelers. If you’re the type of traveler that gets stressed and overwhelmed easily while on assignment, then adding in extra worry back home may not be worth it. On the other hand, if you’re the type of traveler that handles potential issues well and is looking to minimize your expenses as much as possible, then house hacking could be perfect for you.

Have you ever done some version of house hacking with your tax home as a healthcare traveler? If so let me know what you did and how it went in the comments below or in an email!

As always, if you have questions about your travel healthcare journey, you can send us a message. If you’re new to travel healthcare and want to get connected with travel therapy recruiters and companies we recommend, you can fill out this form as well.

Jared Casazza
Written by Jared Casazza, PT, DPT

Jared has been a traveling physical therapist since 2015 and has helped thousands of current and aspiring travelers along their own journeys. He is also a personal finance enthusiast and has used his career as a Travel PT combined with strategic financial choices to pursue financial independence and semi-retirement early in his career.