Travel nursing is a competitive market with plenty of options when it comes to travel agencies. But despite the large number of companies, you have to pay attention to the quality if you want to get the best of the best—and we know you do. Choosing a travel nurse agency is a major decision and can start the course of your career.
Choosing the right one to work with can be difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible. Once you get more experience and solidify what you want out of your agency, the next steps will get easier with time. If you’re still deciding where you should go, here are six things you should keep in mind before selecting your travel nurse agency.
Six Things to Consider When Choosing a Travel Nursing Agency
The Travel Nurse Recruiter
How well you get along with the travel nurse recruiter is a significant determinant of how much you will like the agency. They reflect the entire staff, so their first impression basically makes or breaks your decision to join their ranks—no pressure! As a travel nurse, your lifeline is your recruiter, so it’s crucial to establish a bond as early as possible.
If you’re already set on a specific travel agency but don’t “click” with your current recruiter, it’s perfectly fine to ask for someone else. At the end of the day, if you’re not getting along with the recruiter, you won’t have a good experience with the agency, no matter how great it is.
Volume & Variety of Travel Nursing Assignments
One thing many nurses forget about when looking at travel nursing companies is the amount and type of available travel nursing assignments. Many have a wide range of options, but certain ones staff specific locations or areas more than others. Some agencies even have exclusivity contracts with select hospital systems so that no other travel nursing agency will have access to those jobs for their travelers.
Nurses should look at the number of job openings, the locations of the contracts, the different specialties, and how frequently they refresh. Looking at the agency’s job board on its website will help give you an idea of where they have jobs. The more contracts a travel nursing agency has, the more likely you will get the best job placements as a travel nurse.
The Support Provided by the Travel Nursing Agency
While it may seem silly or trivial at first, having support throughout your travel nurse assignments will make all the difference—whether you realize it or not. Talk to recruiters about their support system.
Will they be available if you have questions or issues while on assignment? Does the company have clinical liaisons and other support staff available around the clock? Do they have licensing and housing specialists that can help you get ready to work in another state? You deserve to know if and when you’re covered.
The Benefits and Perks
Agencies will often list average pay rates for their travel nurse jobs, but that is just part of the overall compensation, and these amounts will vary by contract. However, these agencies may offer multiple benefits, such as medical, 401Ks, weekly pay, paid vacation time, rental cars, etc. It’s always best to ask about the perks right from the beginning if they haven’t already disclosed that information. When asking about benefits, check when your coverage starts, whether the company will pay your nurse licensing fees if applying to work in another state, and if they have travel nursing contracts that offer guaranteed hours.
Different agencies have different policies regarding missed shifts, canceled shifts, and even guaranteed pay. It is crucial to ask about these policies before settling on an agency you don’t fully understand.
It’s fairly common for some travel contracts to contain penalties for missed shifts. Some travelers are okay with the missed shift penalties, but some agencies also charge for canceled shifts. This is commonly viewed as unacceptable by travelers, and you should have no problem finding agencies that don’t employ this policy.
Research Every Travel Nursing Agency Diligently
Choosing a travel nursing agency with your best interests in mind is one of the most important things a nurse can do. It all comes back to conducting thorough research on your own. To find out if a company is legitimate, do your due diligence and do a deep dive, such as researching online and talking to various contacts at each travel nursing agency you consider working with.
Trust what your gut is telling you if something just doesn’t feel right or a travel nursing agency is offering an incentive that sounds fishy or just too good to be true. Dig a little deeper and ask as many questions as possible. The right agency will make you feel comfortable, prepared, and eager to start your journey with them.
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