Comparing the Benefits of Travel Nurse Agencies
By Anita Wong, contributor
If you've decided to put your RN skills to work as a travel nurse, you have plenty of exciting adventures ahead. But before you can marvel at the lights of Times Square, dip your toes into both oceans or get a taste of Southern hospitality, you need to understand and compare the different benefits of working with travel nurse agencies.
It's natural to be drawn to the highest paying travel nurse agencies, but be sure to take a close look at pay rates to understand what's included in the calculations. It's also important to find an agency that can help you meet your personal and professional goals, whether you have a bucket list of destinations to visit or want to work in specific locations to grow valuable skills in your nursing specialty.
4 Things to Consider Before Working with Travel Nurse Agencies
1.Comparing agency RN pay rates
Travel RNs are generally well compensated for bringing much-needed skills to a hospital, covering critical staffing gaps and ensuring adequate nurse-patient ratios. However, not all agencies calculate their rates in the same way, so it's a good idea to ask your recruiter to break down what's included in your salary.
Hospitals set hourly rates based on factors such as geographic location, the facility's budget and the credentials or experience that you bring to the job. Consider whether you're receiving additional benefits, such as:
- Housing placement or subsidy
- Allowances for meals and incidentals
- Reimbursement for travel expenses
- Overtime pay, holiday pay or shift differential
- Pay when a shift is cancelled
- Signing, completion and referral bonuses
- Health insurance, including dental and vision
- 401(k) retirement plans
- Continuing education opportunities
- Potential for contract extension
You may also want to confirm which benefits are taxable and how you're reimbursed for expenses.
2.Reputation and expertise
When you work with a travel nurse agency, you're relying on them to place you in appropriate assignments, make sure your paperwork is in order and help you with unexpected situations. The last thing you want is to make your way across the country to start an exciting assignment and run into a problem.
When you're looking for a travel nurse agency, ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. Look into the company's history and reputation. Agencies accredited by the Joint Commission, for example, are certified for meeting national quality standards for healthcare staffing. Strong industry partnerships can be another indicator of a successful track record.
It's also a good idea to ask about the company's infrastructure and how much support you can expect. Is there adequate staff to help with housing placements, answer questions about licensing or provide after-hours assistance if you need help while traveling?
3.Quality of assignments available
Travel nursing is all about the adventure, whether you're settling into a small town in New England, keeping up with the fast pace of Los Angeles or discovering the amazing places across the country. Make sure your travel nurse agency offers a variety of assignments so you can find matches, stay challenged and keep the work flowing.
- Location tips: Can you choose from vibrant urban centers and small communities throughout the United States? How many of their travel nurses easily transition from state-to-state or community-to-community?
- Facilities tips: Consider if there's a diversity of facilities to work at, such as teaching hospitals, surgical centers and children's hospitals. Different clinical settings let you gain important experience and meet potential mentors.
- Specialties tips: A wide selection of assignments offers you the option of transitioning your skills between units, which benefits your career development in the long term. Does the agency staff for multiple specialties?
4.Exclusive travel nurse jobs
Some travel nurse agencies, such as American Mobile, have exclusive partnerships with healthcare facilities across the country. Meaning, if a travel nurse wants to work at those facilities they must contract with American Mobile. They've been entrusted to fill exclusive travel nurse jobs to which no other staffing agency has access, giving you an inside track to prime opportunities.
High agency RN pay rates are a plus, but shouldn't be your only consideration when choosing a staffing company. As a travel nurse, you need a recruiter you can trust to find you the best assignments and smooth the way for you. This lets you focus your energy on caring for patients and making the most of your travels.
LEARN MORE about our trusted travel nurse agency partners.