Best travel nurse agencies - page 3

by agatka 56,284 Views | 28 Comments

I'm thinking of pursuing travel nursing. Can anyone tell me from past experiences which agency has most benefits? :confused:(higher pay, private housing, best recruiters, locations) I'd really appreciate it.:redpinkhe I've been... Read More

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    Hello everyone! I am looking to find a travel agency who recruits a contract for Palmetto Health in Columbia, SC. If anyone knows, please share.

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    The most direct way to find this out is to call HR at Palmetto and ask them what agencies they use.
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    Ned, a quick question about the whole travel pay and base salary with OT. Is it ok for a traveler to set say 30/hr base with 45/hr OT and request maximum GSA per diem rates for the area in which they are going? At least that way I would have a steady net taxable income and only my tax free per diems would fluctuate depending on where I was. Like with my first assignment starting in 3 weeks I am stuck with a 20/hr base plus 30/hr OT and my MEI is double the max on the GSA site and the housing is just shy of the max, the net take home calculates to be ok for what I need but at the time I did not know negotiating was even an option. I do not want to necessarily limit my options here, but also need to make money myself and not feel like I am being taken advantage of. I would think this would be an ok move since the bill rate is what pays the agency and then they pay me, but I do not want an attitude of you need me more than I need you, because that is not the case. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
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    Whew, lots of jumble there. One probable typo, you meant your M&IE were half of GSA maximum?

    For starters, you know all compensation comes out of a fixed hourly bill rate, right? That means all you can do with is slice it up differently. So on any given assignment, assuming best efforts at negotiation and working for an agency with the lowest gross profit margin there is, your maximum base compensation is fixed, period.

    I would recommend taking a look at PanTravelers calculator and play around with it. Also read the related articles. While it is not designed for it, try changing various compensation amounts and hold the total compensation fixed. That will show you how playing with how the pie is sliced affects your take home pay without changing the cost to the agency.

    So doing that with an agreeable agency would be called zero sum negotiation (my term). You will increase your pay and the agency profit remains the same. Great goal, and many agencies are willing to do just that. Why not? No cost to them and it gets them the traveler.

    It just happens to be illegal. The IRS will call it recharacterization of wages (from taxable to non-taxable) if they catch an agency at it. The good news is that it is not illegal on our end, we won't owe the IRS back taxes, penalties, and interest.

    Generally, the IRS cannot even catch agencies at it directly (unless the negotiation of recharacterization is documented), but from a big picture perspective they can garner enough proof to force the agency to mend their evil ways, and they are indeed slowly forcing all agencies to behave.

    So all this looks like gobble-de-gook to you and I appear to be dancing around your straight forward question, right? Wrong. Nice clear answer, no you cannot dictate your compensation terms to an agency, compensation depends directly on their bill rate at that hospital and their gross profit margin. Period. What I told you was exactly how to work around the issue to maximize your pay. That's what you want, right?

    One more tidbit of information here: M&IE come with a tax burden to an agency. You can receive it tax free, but it is not tax free to an agency. As a result, I've never seen an agency max it out, ever. The same is not true of provided housing (or stipend), the agency can max it out without extra cost, which is exactly what you are saying is happening (less typo). This IRS crackdown alluded to above has caused a new rule that applies to agencies: if housing is provided on a tax-free basis, M&IE must also be paid, at least 40% of the combined lodging/M&IE total. It is exactly in this way that the IRS is cracking down on most wage recharacterization in our industry, there is a tax consequence to doing so.

    That is a lot to take in but here is a quick review:

    1. Fixed bill rate per agency, per hospital.
    2. Fixed gross profit margin per agency (based on their cost of doing business, and business model).
    3. Fixed total compensation for the traveler, per assignment.
    4. You may be able to negotiate how this total compensation is sliced, to your benefit and without personal risk.

    Got it? Zero guarantees that you can extract from an agency beyond a single assignment contract.

    Overtime is a completely separate issue from base pay (fixed total compensation per assignment), and one I've discussed several times (I'm guessing you have read at least one such discussion). Either reread those posts, or read the article on how to negotiate overtime on PanTravelers.
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    Thanks Ned... that is definitely a big help...
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    I have to tell you that I usually made between $34 and $36 an hr as a traveler over ten years ago.
    Plus paid housing, utils, housewares, cable, internet, and travel. Housing was usually pretty nice.
    I think you get a better deal with smaller agencies.
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    Good Luck though!!!
    Last edit by LittleNurseJudy on Sep 11
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    Your best bet is to get a recommendation from a friend or trusted experienced traveler. The truth is every agency is a little different, but most of them have the same jobs. One might have a job a week before another because the hospital account is with them, but if they can't fill it in a week, they send the contract out to all the other agents too. You'll want to find an agent you like when you first get started more than you'll want to chase number--its worth a couple bucks to have a good experience. This blog might be helpful... The Juicy Stuff… Agencies!!! | The Travel Nurse Expert
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    I agree with the above, the recruiter will be your best ally in the whole process regardless of agency. That is my experience. I got my recruiter through a referral from a former coworker. She was very happy with her experience so I figured she might be good for me too. Referrals are the way to go. No one refers a bad recruiter!

    Sent from my iPad using allnurses