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By September 12, 2017 4 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How can companies keep Travelers happy?

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Ask a Travel Nurse: How can companies keep Travelers happy?

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

Hi David!

After reading multiple blog posts of yours, I have a few questions pertaining to recruiters and staffing companies. I work at a smaller, fairly new staffing company and I wanted to inquire about how we can retain our nurses and make them feel valued. In your view, how can companies keep Travelers happy?

Any tips are helpful and thank you in advance for your time!

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

While I cannot fully underst and the issues you encounter in your position, I can hopefully give you some insight from the Traveler side.

Bottom line, Travel Nurses want the truth. Don’t tell them you’re sure you can get them to their desired destination or things should be “no problem,” when you honestly aren’t certain. Most seasoned Travelers work with several recruiters and if you don’t have what they want, they are simply going to go elsewhere. But if you lie or “over-exaggerate” the truth, they won’t only go elsewhere, they won’t be back.

If your company is strong (offers decent pay, good healthcare, etc.) and you are respectful, then most Travelers will come back, even if they take an assignment or two with another company. After all the time a nurse spends filling out the checklists and submitting the paperwork requirements (physical, immunizations, letters of recommendation, etc.), they will certainly consider you in the future unless you give them reason not to.

I’ve heard stories of Travelers being pressured to take assignments they don’t really want or even threatened that they will be “blacklisted” if they don’t take an assignment for which they may have interviewed. On the flipside, I’ve had a recruiter at a preferred company try to get me more of a housing stipend from the “higher ups,” (to match another company’s quote), and when she couldn’t, told me she’d go with the other company if the stipend was that good. While not matching the other company’s quote did cost them the contract, there wasn’t anything more the recruiter could have done and her honesty always made her my first call when seeking a contract.

Another top priority is to listen to what the Travel Nurse is seeking. If they want San Diego and you keep notifying them of the great positions you have in L.A., pretty soon they won’t be returning your call. Have a conversation with your Traveler and underst and what they want out of the assignment. Are they fixed on a certain location? Do they simply want the highest paying gig? Do they want a warm spot in the winter to sit on the beach, or a cold spot to spend days off on the ski slopes? A top complaint of Travel Nurses is that they feel their recruiter is not listening to what they want.

As far as gifts or sending a Traveler items, we really don’t require much and there likely isn’t much we don’t already have as far as job or travel preparedness. Sometimes, a recruiter’s time is the biggest gift. It’s ALWAYS important to stay in contact with the Traveler when beginning an assignment as to where they need to be and what to expect on the first week of the assignment.

If any testing, like PBDS, is required, your Traveler will want to know this BEFORE showing up to orientation. If your company has a study or review guide to send out, even better. Strong communication is something a Traveler needs for the first week of their assignment. There is nothing so frustrating as showing up to your assigned facility only to learn that their orientation is held at corporate — in a different location!

For things like Nurses Week or the holidays, a small gift card to somewhere like Starbucks or Chipotle is always nice. You can never go wrong giving a nurse food items.

I hope this helps and gives a bit of perspective from the Traveler side.


Posted in: Ask a Travel Nurse

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

4 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How can companies keep Travelers happy?"

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  1. Sonia.


    What about nurse managers who lie about assignment load during the telephone interview? They tell you one thing but starting the assignment, there’s the “assignment shock”. It is more, much more than what you’re told. How do I address that?

  2. David says:

    Hey Sonia. Short answer, put it in your contract.

    If a nursing manager (or whomever you interview with), tell you something that you will be depending on, ask your recruiter to put it in your contract.

    If they tell you the nurse patient ratio will be such and such, and you have been burned in the past, ask your recruiter to put something in like, “nurse accepts assignment with the understanding that the nurse to patient ratio will be ____”.

    You can also record the telephone conversation with the nurse manager so that you have proof for your travel company should you need to walk on a contract for a safety issue (but do check the local legality of recording phone conversations first).

    Also, communicate this to your recruiter. If the travel company gets wind of the situation, maybe they will flag the facility for this type of behavior and reconsider working with them. This would surely be the case if they start losing money because nurses cannot complete contracts because the assignment was not what was represented.

    Hope this helps.


  3. Amy


    Do I need to work in my State for a period of time, once I graduate nursing school before traveling?

  4. Hey Amy. You must have at least one year of experience, in the specialty in which you wish to take assignments, before embarking on a career in travel.

    Use your first year to establish your practice as a nurse and get proficient at things like IV, Foley and NG insertions, patient assessments, critical thinking/prioritization, and time management.

    Also get any advanced certs that pertain to your specialty (i.e. ACLS if critical care or PALS if working with peds).

    Any experience you gain will help with life on the road. You should feel as if you are independent in your practice as a nurse before setting out. If you feel as though you would be able to take work as registry or an agency nurse, then you may be ready for travel.

    Hope this helps.


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