To any of you out there looking at working for Continental Travel Nurse and wondering what it is like, then here it is from someone who worked with them for a good long while, and since my recent departure, I can now spill the beans. I plan on being vague on my personal details to protect myself. As you read further down you will understand why.
The recruiters- for the most part are horrible. They don't keep in touch with you, they don't follow up with you for new contracts. They don't send out contracts for you to sign prior to starting working. The longest I have heard of is 6 months from a fellow traveler. They blame the managers of the unit and claim they are the ones never getting back to them, when everything takes so long to sort out, eg working on their side of a new contract. But they turn around and blame the nurses to the managers saying that we are hard to get hold of, and we never respond to communications. Notice a common theme there, its every bodies fault but their own. Oh but you say, they have been great helping get me started. Of course they are they don't make money off of you until you come over and start working. If they treated the new recruits the same way as the old ones then they would never get any new people over.
On the note of recruiters you might even be so luck as to get the few that actually shout at you. They will ask for paperwork which you would or should have submitted in order to get your NMC and working visa, but back in Nov during an audit they were demanding all the paperwork from the nurses all over again, because surprise surprise they did not have their files in order.
Housing-Lets call the website false advertising. Upmarket housing is a joke! If you work an assignment in Oxford you live in the nurses dorms. I am sure a great deal of us have lived in dorms in university and enjoyed it, because we were young and carefree, but the older you get the less you want to be living in a dorm room with communal kitchen and bathrooms. If you don't get stuck in dorms then be prepared for a full house. Despite saying they have two or sometimes three bedroom flats, that is yet another bold face lie. Yes there a a lucky few that get to be in a two bedroom flat. There could be up to 4 people living there though because they will put two sets of couple in together. Most of the travelers I know live in 4 bedroom houses. Often there is a couple in the house, so generally I live with at least 3 other people.
Oh the housing issues continue, generally upmarket houses do not have bathtubs falling through the roof, ceilings collapsing, mold so extensive that the all travelers had to move out. Most of the problems are not so severe thank god, but there are always problems non the less. Fridges are smaller in the UK and there are usually 3-4 of you trying to get you stuff in. Stuff is generally always breaking down, the heaters have been a problem in many of the properties. The state of the properties run from in excellent condition, to needing some serious work, with run down carpets, highly marked wall, cracked tiles ect. Again if you state upmarket housing one thing I believe that includes is the interior in good condition.
Pay- Dependent upon where you are living the rate varies, but is much less than rates in North America, and more comparable to that of Australia or New Zealand. Money is not everything for sure, but make sure that you know what you are getting to financially before you come here. Taxes may be higher than your own country and cost of living is higher. They do try and paint a rosy picture of how much money you get here, but just do the calculations on your own. For example someone stated 700 pounds as travel money per year. That would be only if you did contracts back to back for the entire year. If you do an extension to your contract, and do this several times you might actually work another 13 weeks, however because they are extended to your original contract then you don't get more travel money.
Education fund- Oh yes there is an elusive education fund that a few of us have found out about, which they keep hush hush. Basically they have guidelines for what they will pay for in terms of mandatory education, which you pay for yourself, and they don't tell you about is, so they don't have to dip into their fund. Again with education, they don't pay you for your time. All nurses that give blood products were required to attend a blood transfusion course. Although we did not have to pay for the course, we also were not paid for our time for going.
If you are thinking of coming right now, then make sure you do your homework carefully!!!! The NMC is running audits and PIN numbers are taking longer than normal. There are nurses that have come over, completed the ONP which takes a month, and in that time you are not only not getting paid, you are also paying for a place to stay, but because of not getting the PIN they are not allowed to work as nurses. They are now working as health care aids, and because they are not working as nurses they are not provided nurses housing. Check in with the NMC to see if there will be delays and how long, because you could find yourself in a bad situation otherwise.
So why did I stay for so long you ask? There are many like me, we stay because despite the crap that goes on with housing, they do highly subsidize it, which makes living here more affordable. Which then allows us to do and travel, which is why most of us live here. My time here in the UK was amazing. They do have some excellent units that they place travelers on. Mine was no exception. I managed to get to a point where I could basically ignore Continental and deal with them on a very limited basis and go to work and do my job. So the good units but mostly the housing is what kept me with Continental. I could have worked with an agency, and made more money, however you then have to pay for your housing and you do not have the benefit of stable work. Ask anybody around, if another agency like this opened up that would spell the end for Continental, but because they are the one and only they have no competition and therefore no incentive to up their standards.
Hopefully now you can go with your eyes a bit more open!