So, you’ve made the choice to look for a travel nursing assignment. Congratulations! Whether it’s your first, or fifteenth, assignment, we’ve put together a list of things to consider so that you get the most out of your travel nursing assignment search, and don’t end up at an assignment that you don’t love. Read on for tips on how to maximize your travel nursing search and make sure you’re taking off on the best assignment ever.
Tip #1: Find your Recruiter BFF
The most important part of your travel nursing search is, without a doubt, your recruiter. Your travel nursing recruiter will be your trusty sidekick throughout the search for the perfect assignment, so finding someone you click with is extremely important! Don’t settle on the first recruiter you get on the phone with – check out other agencies, and if you find an agency that looks great, but you’re not clicking with the recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask to speak with another recruiter. It’s important that you both have a good feel for one another, and odds are if you don’t feel like you’re clicking with the recruiter, they won’t feel like they’re clicking with you either. Your recruiter is a vital piece of your search, and you shouldn’t work with someone you don’t trust.
Tip #2: Ask the Right Questions
Travel nursing can be the adventure of a lifetime, but it’s important to be prepared for this adventure! In order to get a great assignment, you’ll need to make sure you’re asking the right questions. For instance, you wouldn’t show up to an airport and ask, “what travel destinations do you have flights to?”, so why would you ask a recruiter “Where do you have open travel nursing assignments?” Both of these questions will lead to unhelpful answers. When asking questions to your recruiter, try to be as specific as possible. If you want to be a travel nurse in California, consider asking your recruiter which cities they have the most assignments in, as well as what hospitals they work with in the area. These types of questions will give you a better idea of the presence and capabilities of the agency to place you where you want to go. Remember, the more specific, the better!
Tip #3: Be Honest with Your Recruiter
Although it might be tempting to try to hide some of your shortcomings, or claim you’re working with a different recruiter to try and drive up the pay rate on an assignment you’re about to sign a contract for, it WILL come back to bite you. By being dishonest with your recruiter, you could be flagged in their system, leading to you being unable to work with any recruiters from that agency. Facilities might also catch wind of this, leading to an inability to get assignments at different facilities across the country. So, we’ll say it one more time: BE HONEST WITH YOUR RECRUITER. They will understand if you tell them you’re going to take a contract with another agency because they can get you a better rate. They will NOT understand if you say you’re ready to sign a contract, then ghost them and never start working at the facility. Also, a recruiter who knows you’re honest will be more willing to stick their neck out for you, leading to better assignments and assignments with higher pay.
Tip #4: Make Sure You Understand Your Pay Package
Travel nursing pay is complicated. That’s just a truth of the industry. That’s why it’s important for you to understand what you’re being paid for your travel assignment. Many travelers opt to take a housing stipend instead of the company-paid housing because it will yield more net income at the end of the assignment. But there are many other ways that travel agencies can misrepresent the amount of money you will make on your travel nursing assignment by including the monetary value of your benefits package, as well as licensing reimbursement & travel costs (these last two can be misleading because they are costs you incur in taking the assignment no matter what, meaning they aren’t really a part of your complete income). Confused yet? Make sure you understand your rate by asking questions like “What will my weekly gross pay be for working 36 hours, excluding stipends and reimbursements?”
Tip #5: Decide Which Benefits You Need
Travel nursing agencies differentiate themselves in myriad ways. Some of these ways include bundling benefits that you may not have a use for, then including this bundled rate to inflate what your pay package is worth. That’s why it’s important to know which benefits you’re looking for, and which you don’t need. At Tailored Healthcare Staffing, we pride ourselves on providing the best benefits in the business to nurses, but we recognize that some nurses may be fine trading off some high-end benefits to eke out a little more pay in their weekly rate. Figure out what matters most to you, and make sure you know what is and isn’t included in your contract.
Tip #6: Know the Service Structure of Each Agency
Finding the right assignment is just one part of the travel nursing process. You also have to be credentialed before your assignment, and if you take the company housing option, someone will need to coordinate where you’ll be staying with you and helping you along with your accommodations. In smaller organizations, your recruiter might be the one who handles all of this. In larger organizations, these tasks will be siloed across multiple teams who specialize in each area. You’ll work with a credentialing team to get everything processed before your assignment and be assisted by a travel & housing team when looking for your new digs. It’s up to you to decide which arrangement works better: would you rather work with 1 person along the whole process, who might not be an expert at certain areas, or work with multiple people, all of whom are experts in their distinct parts of the process?
Tip #7: Know How Far Your Dollar Will Go
When looking for a travel nursing assignment, it can be easy for your eyes to glaze over when viewing pay rates. Eventually, all nuance will leave your mind, and you’ll be drawn to whichever number is biggest. But this can be misleading. For example, $2000 a week goes a lot further in Wyoming than it does in Southern California, so taking an assignment where you make $2000/week in SoCal instead of an assignment where you make $1900/week in Wyoming could end up costing you thousands of potential dollars at the end of your assignment. That’s not to say that you can’t make money as a travel nurse in California – you just need to make sure you know what the cost of living is wherever you’d like to travel, so you can understand how much you can expect to take home.
There you go – seven tips on how to get the most out of your travel nursing assignment.