10 Things to Look for in a Top Travel Nurse Agency
By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, Contributor
Want to find the best travel nurse company to work for?
Determining the best travel nurse company to work for requires some research. It also requires a bit of your nursing assessment skills and intuition.
When trying to find the best fit for you, it is important to evaluate the concrete variables such as jobs, benefits and support services provided by a travel nursing company, but it’s also essential to consider factors such as the personal connection you make with a recruiter.
Here, Travelnursing.com takes a deep dive into the top 10 things you should look for when selecting a travel nurse agency.
10 Things to Look for in a Travel Nursing Company
1. Volume & variety of travel nursing jobs
The more contracts that a travel nursing agency has, the more likely you are to get the best job placements as a travel nurse. Inquire about how many contracts an agency typically has available, and in what states. Most companies should have contracts that range from 4-26 weeks or more, with the most common contract being 13 weeks.
A travel nursing company should have a variety of assignments available at leading facilities, across a variety of specialties. If your specialty is more obscure, talk to a recruiter about the specific opportunities available in your practice area.
2. Exclusive contracts
Some of the larger travel nursing companies will have exclusive staffing contracts at some of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals and medical centers. These exclusive assignments allow you to get your foot in the door and gain valuable experience in your nursing career.
Agencies that have managed service agreements with healthcare systems are also able to give their nurses first choice among these premium travel nursing assignments.
3. Industry expertise & longevity
Travel nursing is a competitive marketplace, and the travel nursing companies that have withstood the test of time are always great options. A longstanding nurse staffing agency has industry knowledge, connections and expertise that cannot be matched.
It also says a lot if an agency’s recruitment staff has remained with them for a long period of time; these experienced recruiters and managers use their knowledge and expertise to place nurses in their ideal jobs, train new staff and provide excellent service and support.
Some of the recruiters that work with TravelNursing.com’s staffing partners have been in the business of placing nurses in their ideal travel nursing jobs for over 20 years.
4. Knowledgeable & friendly recruiters
Ask any travel nurse and they will tell you that their recruiter is the most important factor to their success as a travel nurse. Be sure to interview your recruiter and ask a lot of questions. You want to find out what they can do for you, while building rapport and establishing a relationship. Many travel nurses develop great friendships with their recruiters.
Travel nursing recruiters serve as your sounding board, advocate and partner on this journey, so having one that is knowledgeable, trustworthy and friendly is critical when selecting a travel nurse agency.
5. Joint Commission Certification
The Gold Seal of Approval by The Joint Commission is quite literally the gold standard in healthcare staffing. The program launched in October 2004 as a way to provide an independent, comprehensive evaluation of a travel nursing agency's abilities to provide competent staffing services and meet healthcare quality standards.
The select group of companies that have achieved this designation have to be evaluated and recertified every few years. Any travel nursing company that you work with should have this designation as a benchmark for success.
6. Comprehensive benefits
Nurse staffing agencies will often list average pay rates for their job postings, but that is just part of your overall compensation, and these amounts will vary by contract. Some companies package taxable and nontaxable monies differently, too, so take the time to ask.
The best travel nurse companies to work for will offer a robust package of travel nurse benefits, including medical insurance options, dental benefits, free housing, paid travel expenses, life insurance, professional liability insurance, free continuing education courses, retirement benefits and more.
When asking about benefits, check when your coverage starts, whether the company will pay your nurse licensing fees if applying to work in another state, and if they have contracts that offer guaranteed hours.
Travel nursing bonuses come in many forms--from special seasonal bonuses to sign-on bonuses, completion bonuses, overtime bonuses and shift differentials. These bonuses are just another perk of establishing a relationship with a top travel nurse agency, so be sure and find out what is available.
8. On-the-job support
Travel nurses deserve to know that their agency will be there for them on assignment. So talk to recruiters about their support system.
Will they be available if you have questions or issues while on assignment? Does the company have clinical liaisons and other support staff who are available around the clock? Do they have licensing and housing specialists that can help you get ready to work in another state?
The top travel nursing agencies should be able to answer “yes” to these types of questions.
9. Satisfied clients
When searching for the best travel nurse company to work for, talk to your fellow nursing colleagues, including both staff and travel nurses. Read accounts of other satisfied travel nurses. What do other travelers like or not like about the company they work for? Consider a travel nurse company’s reviews and testimonials on their website and social media pages, as well as on other sites.
10. The right fit for you
The most important thing is to find a company you trust, with a staff that can provide you with great job placements and support throughout your travel nursing journey.
If something just doesn’t feel right or a travel nursing company is offering an incentive that sounds fishy or just too good to be true, trust that little voice inside. A top travel nurse agency and their recruitment team should make you feel comfortable, excited, prepared and eager to start on your travel nursing adventure!
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