Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
Hello, I have three years’ nursing experience and I really want to travel — but I don’t have a clue about anything! There are so many companies out there and I don’t know any Travel Nurses. How do you know which Travel Nursing company to work with? I don’t want to quit my job if I am going to be taken advantage of. Thanks for helping me!
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
Hello, I sense by your email, when you mention getting “taken advantage of,” that you have a bit of skepticism with Travel Nursing. While it is good to go into anything with eyes open, I can assure you that Travel Nursing is a wonderful profession as long as you have realistic expectations.
Many people believe that Travel Nurses make more money than Staff Nurses. While this can be correct when adding up all the benefits, it may not always be apparent when looking at take-home pay. Travel Nursing companies provide you with a place to stay (or housing stipend), an hourly wage, and benefits like health and dental. Not being affiliated with a hospital or healthcare system means that they must purchase healthcare coverage for their Travelers. I recall a consulting meeting with the CEO from a major travel company and he mentioned spending around a million dollars on the company’s healthcare policy (and that was more than five years ago).
My point here is that some of the travel benefits can be overlooked, like the extra $1000 a month that the company spends on your furnished housing or the company cost of that million dollar healthcare policy. When those are throw into the compensation equation, and you compare those with hospital staff positions (that do not provide your housing or any stipends, and often have much lower healthcare premiums), then you can start to see why a travel position may come out equal, or sometimes less money, than a staff position. But, you also benefit from all the experiences that come with traveling.
To combat the feeling of being taken advantage of, I feel you just need more info and education on what to expect as a Travel Nurse.
I always hate to throw out what I feel is a shameless plug, but in 2009 I did take a year of my life and write a book for those in your exact situation. It’s called the Travel Nurse’s Bible and while I’ve been working on a rewrite for some time now, I’ve had a really chaotic year. But with all the requests for the book, I decided to make the 2009 edition available online in the Amazon Kindle store.
While it is a few years old, during the reworking of the book, I was surprised to see how much of it has stood the test of time. Plus, I’ve made it available for less than the price of your next meal at McDonald’s. It’s a great place to start even if you do have some knowledge about the travel industry.
If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free programs or apps to read it from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can find it here.
Now as far as travel companies, I do not endorse or recommend “companies” per se, but rather, great people within those companies. I firmly believe that the key to a great travel experience is in having a great recruiter. If you call a company “cold” and ask to speak to someone, they will just pair you with the next available recruiter. It’s really just “luck-of-the-draw” when you do that and you can work with the best travel company in the world, but if they pair you with a subpar recruiter, how good an experience can you really have?
I’d be happy to help get you connected with some great people in the industry.
What works best for both my recruiters and I is to have you send me your best contact info (best email, if not this one, and best phone number where they might reach you). I’ll forward your info to my recruiters and then email you the name of the person who will be contacting you, the company for which they work, and a little bio on the company. These people are the ONLY people who will receive any of your information.
I would also need to know with which companies you have already spoken or even just contacted a company and given them your information. The reason for this is because of the way that I refer nurses to my recruiters and not wanting to submit your name to a company where you are already working with, or have been assigned, a recruiter. I have had one or two instances where my recruiter didn’t first find the nurse I submitted in their system and started working with them only to discover that they were essentially “poaching” a nurse from another recruiter. Obviously, not a great position for my recruiters. Please understand, I am not admonishing you for other nurses’ non-disclosure. It’s just that it’s problematic for my recruiters when people have not disclosed the companies with which they have already spoken.
Presently, there are five companies where I have established great contacts for my own travels. These people have helped me get quite a few new Travelers started in their careers. Most are medium-sized companies (that give better customer service, but may not have all of the assignments that the “giants” do). However, I also have a really great recruiter at one of, if not THE, largest travel company out there. This is one instance in which having a great recruiter is KEY.
I ALWAYS advise Travelers to be on file with at least a handful of companies (after a decade and a half, I am still on file with six or seven). So many of the nurses join all the companies I refer them to, but usually find a favorite and do most of their traveling with that company. I am no different, but when I want to get to a location and my preferred company does not have any assignments in the area, I can always call two or three others and find what I want.
It’s also important for new Travelers to be on file with multiple companies because some hospitals will even specify “no first-time Travelers.” So obviously, the more companies you are on file with, the more assignment opportunities you will have (not all companies have the same assignment selection).
Don’t be afraid to have several companies looking for you at once, but be courteous to your recruiters and let them know if you do take an assignment with anyone else (so they do not continue to spend their time seeking an assignment for you).
I’ll also pass on some sites that are good resources for Travel Nurses and can help you gather even more info on travel. Some good Travel Nurse forums can be found at ultimatenurse.com, allnurses.com, and the Delphi forum for traveling professionals (go to delphiforums.com, look for the box on the right that says “Explore existing forums”, type in “Travel Nursing” and the top result is a group called Travel Nurses and Therapists).
Pan Travelers is also another good site with a forum. They have a free section and also a portion where there is a charge to access information.
Healthcare Traveler Magazine is presently entirely online, where you can read current or back issues. (I’ve written articles for them as well as a monthly column that you can find in past issues).
You can also join Healthcare Travelbook (healthcaretravelbook.com), which is a sort of Facebook style place for Travelers, which also has a forum.
While most Travelers start with the companies that I use, if in your travels, you ever hear of another company that interests you, always check them out on the forums and see what other Travelers may have to say about them. The amount of time they have been in business can be a consideration (not all “young” companies are bad, just as not all companies that have been in the business awhile will be good). Longevity just says that they have been doing this awhile and should have most of their ducks in a row (and it also means you should be able to find out more about them on the forums).
Also look and see if they have a Better Business Bureau rating. Not all companies are accredited by the BBB (most might not be) but even if a company is not accredited by the BBB, they may have a rating and you can see if anyone has ever filed a complaint against them.
Finally, I recommend simply typing the company name into a search browser with the word “complaint” or “review”. This sometimes yields some pretty interesting results.
So, I hope this helps and if you send me your contact info (best email and phone number) and let me know about any companies with which you have had contact, I’ll be happy to pass along your info and help get you connected with some great people in the travel industry 🙂
Hope this helps.