“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”Florence Nightingale
Are you a registered nurse considering working as a travel nurse or thinking about nurse travel? Perhaps you’ve already started to research the benefits of travel nursing, different healthcare facilities, and the varying types of travel assignments out there.
If you’re one of those nurses, then this is for you.
This article is a short and easy-to-grasp “basics” of what you may need to know, do, or ask as a travel nurse while you search agencies, and then select the one that hires or places you in your next travel nursing job.
Because not all nursing jobs or assignments are the same, after all.
Where are nurses finding travel nurse work these days?
The way nurses often find employment these days is has changed dramatically. A registered nurse more than often does not find assignments on their own.
Many, nowadays, are finding short-term, high-demand, assignments as travel nurses travel nursing working with agencies and hospitals that understand and welcome travel nurses.
These travel nurse companies are agencies that match available travel or contract nursing jobs up with available nurses. This could be in private hospitals, government facilities, or even a military base location. Because your compensation and financial fate may hinge on the agency, it is essential that nurses find a good agency and recruiter.
How do they handle pay?
Nurses have to consider that it is the agency, not the hospital, that pays their salary. The hospital or entity cuts a check to the travel nurse agency, which then uses it to pay their travel nurses.
So it’s prudent that before nurses send in applications for assignments you, as the traveler who will be doing the work in these hospitals, should ask how often they will be receiving their check.
This may sound like a really basic item, but it can shine some light on how the travel nurse will be paid. Is it weekly, monthly, bi-weekly? Are there any bonuses attached to the assignment or job?
This should not be taken for granted by any travel nurse or nurses in general for that matter, because the truth is that the contract world changes so rapidly, that when and how you will receive compensation is crucial.
Talk to other nurses and travel nurses employed through the healthcare company to find out how happy they are with the current payment plan, any stipends they receive, and of course, if there is a bonus applied to the specific facility or hospital.
Is there ample work available?
Another thing is to find out how often nurses employed through the travel nurse company are working.
For example, are travel nurses able to find the assignments 12 months out of the year? Do the recruiters have the resources and assignments they need to keep a hungry and available travel nurse busy?
If you do speak to some of the nurses working, be sure to get their professional opinion. And more so, that if there are gaps between assignments, is it because the travel nurse is choosing the hiatus, or is it because of lack of support, perhaps lack of benefits, or worse, a shortage of positions available for nurses to choose from.
All these things matter when nurses are screening firms they hope to travel for.
What is the expense policy?
Believe it or not, many nursing firms actually do reimburse certain expenses on specific assignments.
So as a nursing professional, find out what their policy is for travel expenses. Some of them will pay for their nurses travel expenses between contracts; while others deduct the cost of travel out of the nurses salary.
And yet others actually may have a policy that requires the travel nurse to pay their own expenses as they move to the next assignment.
The nuances in policy matter. They matter a lot and that’s why it’s important for travel nurses to be aware of their packages, their pay, and any bonuses associated with travel and the agencies.
Let’s talk housing now
One of the best places I have found to talk to fellow RNs about travel nursing and travel is on social media.
Reach out to and message the nurses who are already working for the firms you are exploring. Ask them about living arrangements while on a nursing gig. Is there a housing stipend involved? Or does the firm find and book living arrangements for their nurses?
Or perhaps you do not require a place to live. Will the firm provide stipends instead and how is that taxed?
Your housing packages, pay, and arrangements may vary depending on where you will travel to, the part of the country as well, and the types of facilities you might be assigned to.
Ask if the accommodation is typically well furnished or furnished at all. (you’d be surprised). Ask your fellow travel nurses if the housing facilities are kept clean or if the firm looks for the cheapest possible place and location.
This could and will matter both short term and long term, especially since this will be where mosyt RNs spend much time when they’re off.
Other questions that matter
Something I always like to know is this.
How many contracts or jobs have my fellow RNs done with a specific company. This says a lot not only about the firm itself but also about support, the job itself, career advancement, resources available, and of course, pay.
Also, how long has the company has been in business? All healthcare agencies are not the same. Some pop up seemingly overnight due to high demand, and some agencies frankly don’t really care about the well-being of their nurses.
They may be looking to place travel nurses simply to turn a quick profit at your expense, and license.
The bottom line is that all agencies, companies, and staffing firms aren’t the same. The policies related to how you are paid, travel, and housing can all vary wildly, so it’s essential to be as informed as possible before making that decision.
The final word
As a travel nurse, it’s important to make sure that the company you work for is reliable and has your best interest at heart. You don’t want to feel taken advantage of or worse- like they’re taking their cut without providing adequate service in return.
Take time before making any career decisions about which agency or company to travel with by asking these questions:
1) What are their policies related to travel expenses?
2) How many contracts or jobs have my fellow RNs done with a specific company?
3) Does the accommodation come furnished?
4) Is there support provided during off-hours and on weekends via phone calls, texts, etc.?
5) Do they provide benefits?
Are you ready to find the right recruiter for you and start your travel nursing adventure? Our experienced, compassionate recruiters are ready to help you grow your nursing career. Connect with a recruiter at Bestica today for help finding your dream assignment!