Are you starting your career as a travel nurse and are having trouble deciding on the best travel nursing agency? Or maybe you are a seasoned travel nurse that needs a change or your current travel nursing agency might not be working as well for you anymore. While there are many, many, many travel RN recruiting companies to pick from, not all are created equal. Selecting a recruiter you can trust and a company that provides the benefits you need can help make your assignment go smoothly —on the flip side, settling for a recruiter that views you as a number rather than a person, or an agency that simply doesn’t have your back with lives unexpected happens can cause you extreme stress. Let’s review three steps to finding the best travel nursing agency that works for you and the top qualities of what makes a good agency.
1. Compare benefits offered.
Step one in considering a travel nurse company should center around the benefits offered. While your relationship with your recruiter is extremely important (more on that soon), if your travel nurse company isn’t able to meet your medical insurance coverage needs, you’re taking a major gamble. Compare medical insurance plans of the companies you are considering. Here are some questions you should be asking:
- What is the premium (cost to you out of each pay check)?
- Can you add family members (spouse, children) to the plan?
- Are there multiple plans to choose from, or is it one-size-fits-all?
- Does coverage begin on the first day of your assignment?
- Do they offer dental coverage?
- Do they offer vision coverage?
An agency may seem like a perfect fit at first, but once you dive into the benefits they offer, the glamour can quickly fade away.
Beyond just medical insurance, research or ask about other benefits offered by travel companies.
- Is a 401(k) offered? Any company match?
- CEU reimbursement?
- Can the company provide clinical support (access to an in-house CNO, for example) if you have questions?
- Does the company have a dedicated travel and housing department?
- How often will you be getting paid?
- Are there referral bonuses offered?
The answers to these questions and more will quickly separate the “No”s from the “Maybe”s in your travel nurse agency search.
2. Talk with different recruiters at those agencies.
Once you’ve identified companies that can meet your needs benefits-wise, begin communicating with recruiters at those companies. Most companies will only allow you to speak with one recruiter at a time, but don’t feel like you have to commit to that recruiter right away. If you really like the benefits the agency offers but aren’t meshing well with the first recruiter you come in contact with, simply ask (politely) for another recruiter. It’s likely that the original recruiter could tell things weren’t clicking, too, and they’ll be happy to recommend a colleague.
The best way to get to know a recruiter is to get on the phone and begin asking questions. Here’s a few to get the conversation rolling:
- How much nurse recruiting experience do you have?
- How long have you been with [insert company]?
- How do you like to communicate with nurses? (Phone, email, text, messenger pigeon?)
- What is your availability? (Normal business hours, weekend hours, emergencies, time zone, etc.)
- If I can’t get ahold of you, who do I contact?
- What’s been you greatest travel nurse success story?
- Can you explain more about [insert specific company benefit]?
The recruiter will likely ask you questions, as well, to get a feel for your nursing experience level and your desire to travel. This should be a light conversation with deeper follow-ups to come if you feel comfortable with the recruiter. This may seem like a lot of early legwork, but choosing the right recruiter for you will pay off in the future. Remember—your recruiter not only helps you find the perfect travel nurse job, but they will act as lifeline once you’re on assignment. You want someone who has experience, can make intelligent recommendations (but isn’t pushy), and is trustworthy. Do not settle!
3. Choose the recruiter you’re most compatible with and commit.
Benefits, check. ✅ Recruiter “interviews,” check. ✅ After the first two steps, you’ve found the right company and the right recruiter for you. Now what?
It’s time to commit!
Reach out to the recruiter with whom you plan to move forward with and tell him/her you’re ready to be submitted to jobs. They will then begin to help build your profile and submission packet (which includes things like your resume, skills checklist, RN license, etc.) and eventually (it can take awhile depending on a number of factors) start submitting you to the travel nurse job you desire. Committing to this process, which will require a lot of work from you and your recruiter, will help move things forward quickly and demonstrate your readiness to find the perfect assignment. A half-hearted effort (failure to return calls, unorganized email responses, etc.) could cause the process to drag out for far too long as the recruiter attempts to pull the necessary information out of you. (Again, this is yet another reason the nurse-recruiter relationship is so important!)
While it may be tempting to “commit” to a recruiter at more than one agency (more irons in the fire, right?!), this is not a recommended practice. Most recruiters operate under the impression that they are your sole partner in this mission at the moment. The problem? If you are submitted more than once—and by two different agencies—to a job, you will likely be tossed from consideration immediately, a frustrating reality for both you and all recruiters involved.
Qualities of Top Nursing Agencies
Now that we’ve discussed ways to find the best travel nursing agency for you, let’s review some qualities top agencies possess.
- Communication: Recruiters and travel nursing agencies land their best registered nurses through communication. If your recruiter continues to call you and check in on items, even after starting your assignment, this is a sign of a quality travel nursing agency.
- Flexibility: Your travel nursing agency should be flexible with you on days off, paid time off (PTO requests), and contract dates.
- Advocacy: Your agency and recruiter should always advocate for you and your best interests. For example, on your assignment, you were told that you weren’t going to float to other units but you are floating to a different unit every other day. Talk to your recruiter so they can communicate and be your advocate to the healthcare facility.
- Large Job Board: If the travel nursing agency you choose has a large job board, consider this to be additional job opportunity. Typically, larger job boards allow you to choose several areas around the country and offer more flexibility in assignments.
- Plan Ahead: You will know you’ve landed a good travel nursing agency when they plan ahead for any situation. This means they will have backup plans for you if your assignment gets canceled or cut short. A good travel nurse recruiter will also start communicating with you a few weeks before the end of your current assignment, so you can have your next assignment lined up and ready to start.
- Attention to Detail: One of the top qualities of a travel nursing agency and its recruiters is attention to detail. Since they are coordinating important documents such as licensing requirements, pay rates, and contracts, they should not be lacking in this area. They should also be communicating the next steps with submitting hours, viewing pay stubs, and signing up for benefits.
What is the highest-paying nursing agency?
There is truly no consistent highest-paying nurse staffing agency in travel nursing. The highest paying agency depends on the location, length of the assignment, and nursing specialty While a company may pay higher rates, you also should consider the costs of the healthcare benefits they offer, including health insurance, dental insurance, PTO, sick leave, employee assistance program, and 401K matching.
Is working for a nursing agency worth it?
Working for a nursing agency is worth it- when you’re working for a quality travel nursing agency. Your recruiter and agency will work with and advocate for you to get higher pay and better assignments. It’s nice to have someone on your side when it comes to assignments and pay.
What travel nursing agency is best?
What’s considered the best travel nursing agency depends on your needs, wants, and recruiter. Every travel nurse will have a different opinion on which travel nursing agency they think is the best.
Learn More about Health Carousel Travel Nursing
Now that you’ve got the steps down for choosing an agency, it’s time to start the process! View our benefits overview page to see what we have to offer. We also encourage you to compare our benefits to those of other travel nursing agencies.
We wish you the best of luck in your search and do hope you choose Health Carousel Travel Nursing to help you find the perfect travel RN job!