It’s tough to deny the appeal of travel nursing. If you enter this specialty, you’ll have the opportunity to see the country while earning above-average pay rates. You can satisfy your adventurous side while embracing lucrative assignments that enhance your nursing resume.
As you can imagine, it can be difficult finding travel nursing assignments on your own. Plus, there are a lot of details for assignments you’ll need to consider — like pay, benefits, and overtime — before committing to those 13 weeks, which is the standard assignment length.
That’s where a travel nursing agency comes into play. The following sections explore what travel nursing agencies can do for you and what you need to keep in mind before choosing one.
The Purpose of a Travel Nursing Agency
Travel nursing agencies should be a one-stop shop for everything you need when searching for assignments. Agencies also provide help for everything you might encounter as a travel nurse, such as assistance with housing, health insurance, and customer-service-related issues.
Ideally, your travel nursing agency will keep your best interests in mind. As a result, when you’re searching for your next travel assignment, your recruiter will advocate for you to find the perfect one that meets your needs. That should also be the case when you’re negotiating pay, housing units or stipends, and any special requests you may have.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to be careful when selecting a travel nursing agency. Due to the growth in this field, the number of them has increased drastically, leading to some low-quality agencies. Proceed with caution and make sure you do your research when selecting one.
7 Tips for Finding a Travel Nursing Agency
Here are seven things to look for when choosing a travel nursing agency.
1. An Experienced, Stable Company: Check the agency’s track record. How long has the company been around? You can ask nurses in your hospital who are travelers to weigh in on different agencies. Nursing blogs are also a good source of information for investigating their reputations, and annual rankings lists like Highway Hypodermics can be helpful.
2. Strong Pay and Housing Options: How do pay rates compare to other agencies? Try to discuss net pay when examining full compensation packages so that you get a clear, comprehensive picture of your overall pay. As for housing, travel nursing agencies vary significantly, with some offering a range of housing options while others only offer high- or low-quality options.
Another option is to receive a housing stipend so you can find your own accommodations or stay with a friend or family member and pocket the extra money. Whatever the case may be, those aspects are important to consider. Get the details on everything, such as utilities and whether the housing is fully furnished. If you’re not satisfied with the compensation package and housing options, you can always negotiate them.
3. Benefits You Want: Benefits can vary significantly by agency. If something is important to you — such as health insurance, 401(k) plans, paid vacation time, and rental cars — then you should be able to find an agency that can accommodate your preferences. Remember that benefits can impact your pay rate, however.
4. Details on Specific Policies: What’s the policy on missed and cancelled shifts? What about extra hours pay? Are there guaranteed hours so you’re not penalized if the hospital cancels your shift? Those questions are easy to overlook, but they’re really important to your bottom line.
To quickly comment on each question, it’s not unusual for there to be a penalty for missed and cancelled shifts, although some travel nursing agencies will let you miss one or two shifts without getting penalized. You should get extra hours of pay, and you’ll need to find out what rate it pays; that detail can make it well worth your while (or not) for additional hours worked. Guaranteed hours should definitely be included, but note if it’s 100% guaranteed or if the hospital can cancel one or two shifts without getting penalized.
5. Number and Quality of Job Opportunities: Take a look at agencies’ available assignments. If the destinations don’t appeal to you, it might pay off to keep looking for another reputable company that has the jobs you want.
6. A Recruiter Who Makes Your Life Easy: You can probably imagine what it would be like to have a recruiter who is easy to reach and truly works for you. Some recruiters make it easy on travel nurses, simplifying the application process by taking your resume and inputting information on job applications. Then, once you’re ready to start, they’ll take care of that paperwork too.
7. A Recruiter Who You Trust: It’s hard to overemphasize a recruiter’s role in your travel nursing career. That person will have a hand in making your experience pleasant or not-so-pleasant because of their help with finding assignments and getting you everything you need to succeed.
Make sure you feel comfortable with your recruiter and that you trust them. Pay attention to any pushiness, how your personalities mix, their experience, and quite simply, your gut feeling. Having a good recruiter can easily overcome a travel nursing agency that’s a little bit behind the field.
Pursue the Best Travel Assignments
Navigating travel agencies is just one step in starting an exciting career in this field. You’ll also need to get the right licenses, consider where you’d like to work, and learn how to choose between assignments. Having the right education will ensure that you can compete for the best assignments.
With an online RN to BSN program, you can earn the credentials you need in a convenient learning environment. Concordia University, St. Paul’s program is offered fully online with multiple start dates per year, so you can start earning your degree when the time is right for you. Experience an innovative curriculum that is responsive, relevant, and real to your nursing practice.