Are you a travel nurse or want to become a travel nurse and having a hard time deciding on a travel nurse agency? Well, look no further! Below we review what you should know about travel nurse agencies and recent trends in the travel nursing industry. Also, we discuss how to choose a travel nurse agency from the top travel nursing companies out there and some frequently asked questions.
What You Should Know about Travel Nursing
Many healthcare facilities across the United States experience nurse staffing shortages. This is where travel nursing agencies provide travel nurses to fill in the gaps in patient care. As a travel nurse, you can have the same specialties as a nurse, ranging from the intensive care unit to the operating room and medical units.
Typically, travel nursing jobs pay nurses a higher hourly pay rate than staff nurses. In addition to higher travel nursing pay, travel nursing agencies provide great travel nurse agency benefits, paid sick leave, and travel nurse agency stipends. Some travel nurse agencies benefits even offer employee assistance programs (with mental health resources), an hourly wage paid weekly, and continuing education courses or continuing education credits.
Recent Trends in the Travel Nursing Industry
If you’re a nurse, you don’t need to be told there’s a national nursing shortage because you’re most likely living with it daily. Depending on your facility’s location, you may have more than one vacancy in a number of nursing specialties that need to be filled. Your situation isn’t unique – the shortage affects everyone, and until the United States produces more nurses and nurse educators, healthcare facilities in rapidly growing metro or expansive rural areas will starve for healthcare talent and look to fill gaps with travel nursing placement.
More CNOs and healthcare administrators alike are considering alternative staffing methods to address the void. International staffing is becoming increasingly popular, but travel nurses are the most utilized. According to industry analysts, the demand for travel nurses has reached a 20-year high.
With roughly 340 nationwide travel assignments available, the problem isn’t how to find travel nursing placement. The problem is choosing travel nursing companies that are reputable. With that many travel nurse companies, it’s difficult to weed the bad from the good or top travel nursing companies. However, there are factors to consider which separate some travel nurse companies from the rest. Below is a short list of things you should look for in any travel nurse provider:
1) EXPERIENCED NURSE AVAILABILITY AND ASSIGNMENTS
Obvious, right? But life is so much easier for you as a travel nurse when you can find one travel nursing agency that fulfills your needs instead of picking and choosing from a mixed bag. Travel nurse staffing agencies with a robust pipeline of quality nurses and available assignments can be difficult to find. This can be especially hard in the midst of the nursing shortage, but it’s worth looking at. Finding a travel nurse agency well stocked with assignments ensures any vacancies – both the ones you have and the unplanned – can be filled in a timely fashion.
Even if you’re looking for a travel nursing placement in one specialty (such as the intensive care unit), ask your travel nursing agency what their pipeline looks like with available assignments. See if they have a stock of travel nursing jobs that you can rely on both now and in the future. Even while on your current assignment, you'll need to be planning options for your next assignment in the weeks ahead.
2) SUSTAINABLE PAY PACKAGES
A top travel nursing company should be able to offer a great pay package. Pay packages include high hourly pay rates, an hourly wage paid weekly, travel nurse agency benefits, and high travel nurse agency stipends. Many of the highest paying travel nurse agencies benefits also include medical insurance (mental health resources too!), paid sick leave, and reimbursement for continuing education courses or continuing education credits.
They also offer an hourly wage paid weekly and various travel nurse agency stipends. Stipends can be for travel nurse housing, meals, and travel. Also, don't be afraid to ask for guaranteed hours or completion bonuses!
3) COST EFFECTIVENESS
There’s no sugar-coating it – travel nursing is a premium-priced service. But did you know that the strategic use of supplemental nurses is actually cost-effective? Especially when used to avoid the use of overtime labor and to cover interim labor shortages.
Also, travel nursing offers many benefits and savings for travel nurses. Many travel nursing jobs offer incentives when their travel nurses work overtime hours or complete assignments. In addition, many travel nursing contracts also have guaranteed hours policies, where travel nurses are guaranteed hours on their assignments. This can also include guaranteed overtime hours, depending on the travel assignment. So make sure to see if the travel nursing agency's website mentions guaranteed hours policies or completion bonuses.
4) KNOWLEDGEABLE REGARDING FACILITY AND STAFFING NEEDS
Is it too much to ask for travel nurse staffing agencies to do an ounce of due diligence before blowing up your inbox? A good way to measure if travel nurse staffing agencies and travel nurse recruiters are reputable is by how much they want to know about the travel nursing placement. A reputable nurse travel agency will know details of the healthcare facility, duties of the position, community, and patient population. They will also know about unit specifics, available housing, and other available positions within the same facility or area. When choosing travel nursing companies, look for a nurse travel agency that understands the challenges of nursing shortages and staffing. A good recruiter will understand the challenges and advocate for you.
5) FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING OPTIONS
When choosing travel nursing companies, look for an agency that has many nationwide travel assignments. From these assignments, see if there are multiple positions or shifts available. This gives you more of an opportunity to land a position at a location or assignment you want. If the travel nursing agency site lacks information about available assignments, you may want to steer clear.
6) COURTEOUS AND RESPONSIVE RECRUITERS
Easy – if you’re not dealing with genuinely courteous and attentive travel nurse recruiters, you have about 339 other choices. Recruiters should be more than willing to cater to your needs and wants in a travel assignment. Your recruiter should have exceptional customer service and be in communication with you regularly. While many of the highest paying travel nurse agencies offer great pay packages, this doesn't mean they have exceptional customer service.
7) SATISFACTION GUARANTEE
It’s not universal, so look for it, but any good travel nurse agency is going to offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. For example, HCTN offers its travel nurses a business week to cancel their contract. Literally, if a HCTN travel nurse isn’t entirely satisfied with their assignment, they can walk away and be on the hook for nothing.
8) JOINT COMMISSION GOLD SEAL OF APPROVAL
A Joint Commission certification is a seal of approval that a travel nurse agency is able to provide competent travel nursing staffing. A Joint Commission certification is a surefire way to ensure you’re dealing with a quality organization. As a travel nurse, you already know this. So why would you work with any travel nursing agency that doesn’t have it? With so many options, you need more ways to seriously vet top travel nursing companies. The omission of a Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval should help you narrow down your selection. If a travel nursing website lacks information about this certification, consider another travel nurse agency.
9) BRAND RECOGNITION
Facebook likes and Twitter followers may mean little to you. After all, how do those translate into good resources? In a way, they do. Before signing with any travel nurse agency, look them up online on the many travel nursing review sites. Are they producing more content beyond a sales pitch? Companies that focus on content development have a much better understanding of the travel nurse industry. Look for available resources, such as a travel nursing blog or a clinician life blog.
10) PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY
Any good travel nurse provider is going to take care of professional liability insurance so that you don't have to. Even with the highest paying travel nurse agencies, it’s not a given in this industry. Be sure to ask for the Certificate of Liability Insurance (COI) and inspect the Per Claim and Aggregate coverage to make sure it is in line with your standards.
Choosing travel nursing companies requires a lot of research and can sometimes be a difficult decision. You may have to search several travel nursing review sites and talk to many travel nurse recruiters before finding the perfect fit. Read travel nursing blogs or clinician life blog pages to give the inside scoop. Remember, when looking for travel nursing placement, don't focus on the high hourly wage paid weekly alone. Consider factors such as location, travel nurse agency stipends, and other travel nurse agency benefits.
Learn More with Health Carousel Travel Nursing
Health Carousel Travel Nursing has many available travel nursing assignments available on our job board. Use our On Demand app to easily search and apply for our many available opportunities. We offer our travel nurses great benefits and a high hourly wage paid weekly. With our Full Circle of Support, we review how to use your benefits, including mental health resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose a travel nursing company?
When choosing a travel nursing company, there are several factors to consider. Some important factors are location, variety of available assignments, and compensation packages. Research travel nursing companies and read their online reviews.
What should I look for in a travel nurse contract?
Most importantly, you should look for a high hourly wage paid weekly, stipend amounts, and reimbursements. Look for cancellation or guaranteed hours clauses. Also, look for agencies that offer nursing licensure reimbursement, continuing education courses reimbursement, or continuing education credits.
What is the highest paying nursing travel agency?
Perform a quick Google search to see some of the highest paying travel nursing agencies. However, consider that the pay will vary, depending on the current demand, assignment location, and specialty. It's also important to consider that just because an agency pays a higher hourly wage doesn't necessarily translate into higher pay. Account for the entire pay package, including the cost of benefits, stipend amounts, bonuses, and reimbursements. Each compensation package is going to be different based on the assignment.
What is the best travel nurse company to work for?
By performing a quick Google search, you can discover the top travel nursing agencies. However, you'll still need to do your own research and decide what agency works best for you. While you might consider one agency is the best to work for, another travel nurse might feel differently. It's important to weigh your options and consider the factors listed above.