Choosing a travel nurse agency can be much like choosing a phone plan. There are so many variables involved it is difficult to know which plan or in this case travel nurse agency, is the best one to select. Each person also has their own set of variables/needs that must be addressed as well. To help you along the way below are 5 key elements to look for when selecting a travel nurse agency.
Travel Nursing Housing
Many surveys indicate that this is one of the top elements travel nurses look for when choosing an assignment. The travel nurse agency a travel nurse chooses should be one that offers the type of housing you will need.
There are basically two types of housing options. The first is the option of receiving a stipend. The housing stipend will be included in your paycheck. You will be required to find your own housing. The amount of the stipend will vary based upon where the assignment is and what the cost of living is in that area. This can be a good option for a single person who isn’t too picky about where they sleep.
The second option is when the travel nurse agency finds housing for you. Based on your needs the travel nurse agency will give you 2 to 3 options of housing. For example, you could opt for a housing assignment that is fully furnished. The travel nurse agency would find you a couple options, that are close to the hospital where you will be working. This is a good option for a married couple or a family with children. It is also good for someone working long hours, with little time to search on their own.
Depending on your situation will depend on whether this element is important or not to you. If you are like many people you have certain bills that must get paid every month and so your paycheck must be a certain amount every month. This is why a guaranteed hours policy might be important for you.
When choosing a travel nurse agency be sure to ask if they guarantee hours. Be aware, to some degree a travel nurse agency does not control that policy so much as the hospitals do. However, you can discuss that with the travel nurse agency and explain to them that it is an important factor when choosing assignments.
Travel nurses will tell you that this is a very important key element when selecting a travel nurse agency. A recruiter is the person who helps a particular travel nurse find their assignments. Having a good rapport with the recruiter is essential. If the person who is supposed to be helping you obviously cares more about making money than finding appropriate assignments for you you will have a bad experience.
A travel nurse must feel that the recruiter is invested in their experience. A recruiter promising to take care of their travel nurse’s needs and fails to do that is going to lose trust. Trust is what must be built between the recruiter and a traveling nurse. Travel nurse agencies build reputations, good or bad, in part by how they treat their travel nurses.
When choosing a travel nurse agency looking at the complete package they offer, including benefits, is essential. You will need to weigh the salary, housing and benefits that are offered to decide if a travel nurse company is worth your time. Some travel nurse agencies offer 401(k)s, medical benefits, paid vacation time, etc. You must determine which benefits are essential to you and your family and that will help determine which travel nurse agency to go with.
As with benefits, salary is a key element when selecting a travel nurse agency. There will always be agencies that have salary packages that are better than others. It is important to realize that you must look at the entire package being offered. Just because an agency doesn’t pay as much as another agency doesn’t mean they are not the ones to go with.
A travel nurse agency will usually offer some sort of reimbursement, tax-free, for meals and lodging. Some agencies have a signing bonus, while others offer higher pay per hour. The easiest way to determine which company offers the best packages is to break down your salary by hour. Make sure you take into account any housing stipends, food stipends, etc.
Selecting a travel nurse agency is not easy. There are many variables involved in each person’s situation is very different. You must look at what your needs are and what the agency offers to make the best decision. The 5 key elements to look for when selecting a travel nurse agency, discussed in this article are: housing, benefits, salary, recruiters and hours policy. There are other key elements to be aware of, that will be discussed another time, in another article.