In travel nursing, one of the biggest factors that affects your job satisfaction is the quality of the staffing agency you utilize. Some agencies will make your work as a traveler more difficult than it needs to be, while others can make even the worst assignment seem like a dream. But if you’re just starting out as a travel nurse, chances are you don’t know quite what to look for in an agency.
Below are the six main things to look for when searching for an agency to work with and how to spot the agencies to avoid at all costs.
1. Benefits Package
A common concern of nurses looking into becoming a travel nurse is access to benefits. As a contract employee of the hospital, you won’t have access to their benefits package. However, many Travel Nursing agencies offer benefits to their nurses, including health insurance, continuing education stipends, and even 401(k)’s. If having access to these benefits is something that is important to you, make sure to research what is offered by any agency you choose to work with.
2. Housing Network
With most travel nurse assignments, nurses will be offered either a housing stipend or agency provided housing. If you feel that you would prefer allowing the agency to provide the housing, it is important to research what relationships they have with housing providers. Whether it’s a contract with long-term stay hotels or a connection with certain property management companies, make sure whatever housing the agency would provide will fit your needs.
3. Nursing Destinations
While the majority of recruiters that work with travel nurses have access to most available travel positions, some work for agencies with exclusive contracts with certain hospitals or that have a more robust presence in certain regions. Research which agencies have the largest presence in the states you would like to travel to before committing to working with one.
4. Missed & Canceled Shift Policy
Different agencies have different policies in regards to missed and canceled shifts. Most agencies have a penalty for any shifts a travel nurse misses, but there are a handful that don’t. In terms of canceled shifts, some agencies actually charge the nurse for a shift canceled by the hospital, but the majority do not. Make sure to ask each agency about their individual policies before committing to any of their assignments.
5. Onboarding Simplicity
While most travel nursing assignments only require an application, resume, and skills checklist in order to apply, some travel nurse agencies require travelers to complete all onboarding paperwork before even discussing available positions. With the amount of paperwork required, this can be incredibly off putting. Find out what is required when throughout the process early on to avoid completing unnecessary paperwork.
6. Quality Recruiters
A great travel nursing recruiter can make working with any agency a breeze, while a less than stellar recruiter can make working with the best agency a nightmare. Instead of just relying on the luck of the draw when calling in blindly to travel nursing agencies, research their recruiters online first. Sites such as Linkedin allow for recommendations that can give you a better idea of what it would be like to work with specific recruiters.
Key Take Aways:
- Research each organization’s presence in the areas you want to travel to – if they don’t have any destinations you’d want to work in, you need to move on.
- Different agencies offer different benefits, housing options, and even penalties for travel nurses. Research each organization’s policies before committing.
- An agency is only as good as it’s recruiters! Research the recruiters at your desired agency before calling in to ensure you only work with the best.