How to Pick a Travel Nurse Staffing Agency

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Picking a Travel Nurse Agency

In the journey to become a travel nurse, the ideal staffing agency will be your partner. How do you know which is the best partner for you? Here’s how to pick the right travel nurse staffing agency.

Look for a recruiter who gets you.

Your relationship with your recruiter defines your career. When trying out a staffing firm, look for a recruiter who isn’t just doing a job — they should care about your career happiness and success.

Here are some of the hallmarks of a good recruiter:

  • They’re responsive. A good recruiter will return your call or email promptly, usually within 24 hours. The travel nurse job market moves quickly — and so do the best recruiters.
  • They treat you like a person. A great recruiter will never make you feel like a cog in the system. They won’t rely on an ATS to do the job matchmaking for them. Instead, they will look carefully at your travel nurse resume, talk extensively with you about your needs, and work to build a relationship with you.
  • They listen. You want your recruiter to pay close attention to what you tell them and what makes you tick. They should ask on-point questions and work to understand what’s most important to you:
    • What you value most in an assignment
    • What job culture you work best in
    • Your talents and how you’d like to grow them
    • Your challenges and what would help you overcome them
  • They’re honest and open. Your recruiter is connected to your livelihood. It’s crucial that you can rely on them to:
    • Provide a clear, accurate picture of your prospects
    • Give you a heads-up about changes that affect you
    • Follow through on any promises they make
  • They work hard for you. Not only does a great recruiter have your back, but they also provide results. A relationship with the right recruiter will land you some of your best travel nurse placements.

Research the opportunities they offer.

Your staffing firm should go where you want to go. They need the opportunities at the hospitals and medical systems you admire and the cities and states you dream of.

When considering a travel nurse agency, research their current job openings.

  • Hop on an agency’s job board and make sure they offer a wide variety of positions that interest you.
  • Search job sites, such as Indeed and Monster, for other opportunities the firm offers.
  • If you have a hospital or medical system you’d love to work for, ask the firm if they’re a client.
  • Be sure to think about the short and the long term: where you’d like to travel next and where you might like to travel in a few years. Does the agency show enough diversity in their options to keep the adventure going, gig after gig?

Check their bottom line.

Different travel nursing agencies offer different pay structures. This can sometimes be confusing when comparing the take-home pay between different agencies.

Hourly rates alone do not give a clear picture of what you will actually take home. Other income or expenditures may affect rate estimates. Make inquiries to determine what your overall earning will be:

  • What are their average base rates?
  • What are their average overtime rates?
  • Will there be a travel stipend?
  • Do they offer a housing stipend? (More on this below.)
  • Do they give funds for incidentals? For moving?
  • Which aspects of their total package is tax-free?

Use the answers to these questions to calculate the total estimated value of an entire sample contract and compare values between agencies. Often, a good recruiter will do this work for you and help you gain a clear idea of your expected salary offer.

Investigate their housing options.

If home is where the heart is, then you want to make sure you love the housing options your staffing agency offers. Here are the most common options and what to look out for:

    • Housing stipend. Many agencies will offer a stipend to pay for or supplement the cost of the housing you find on your own. If high-end accommodations are important to you, keep an eye out for lowball housing stipends — $1200 isn’t going to get you much home in most markets.
    • Agency-provided housing. Quality of lodging varies greatly from agency to agency. Some prefer extended-stay housing or motels. Others offer luxury one-bedroom apartments. If you’re interested in agency-provided housing, be sure to ask what you can expect:
      • What is the average rent of the apartments or motels they offer their travel nurses?
      • Do they have pictures of or links to sample agency housing?
      • Are their apartments furnished? If so, how extensively?
      • Are other amenities, such as on-site laundry, gym access, dishwashers, or free parking, commonly included?
      • Are there any housing-related fees that you will be responsible for?
      • Are pets permitted in any of their agency lodgings?
    • Hospital-provided housing. You may come across agencies that offer contracts with hospital-provided housing. Though the cost of housing may be taken out of your base rate, the overall cost of housing is often quite reasonable. At the same time, hospital housing is not known for being luxurious.

Seek out a firm that matches your style.

A great staffing agency is more than just a few good recruiters. From the people who answer the phones to the folks who cut your checks, a good staffing firm is a team of people who always treat you well.

Different travel nurses want different things in an agency. Some travel nurses may want a team of consummate professionals who are hyper-focused on getting the job done. Others might be looking for a more casual, friendly approach from a team focused on building relationships. Think about what would make you most comfortable and confident as you move through your career and look for a firm that matches your style.

There you have it — how to pick a great travel nurse staffing agency. Want to give a great one a try? Contact TotalMed today.

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