First Travel Assignment... Advice needed...Register Today!
This is a discussion on First Travel Assignment... Advice needed... in Travel Nursing, part of Nursing Specialties ... Greetings everyone, I'm totally new to the forums here but I really had nowhere else to turn. ...by T800 Aug 3, '12Greetings everyone,
I'm totally new to the forums here but I really had nowhere else to turn. I'm taking my first travel assignment in a few weeks. I've been a nurse for a little over 8 years now. Some things don't seem right with the agency I signed up with so I was hoping I could get some advice.
They advertised that there would be travel, certification, and licensure reimbursement. I had to get recertified in a particular cert that this particular assignment required. Now they're saying they only cover 1/3 of the cost. As far as travel; the assignment is 3000 miles away and they are only willing to reimburse $300 each way. That seems rather ridiculous.... doesn't it? That's not exactly what I would consider travel reimbursement.
As far as housing... they said that there was free housing or stipend, and paid utilities. Yet now they're saying my stipend is part of my salary. They said I was responsible for housing on my own. When I asked for assistance in locating a place they directed me to craigslist!
I'm thinking that something seems very very wrong with all this... but maybe it's just how the travel gigs go?
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- Aug 4, '12 by RNewbieHave you signed the contract yet?
- Aug 4, '12 by violet_violetI would definitely ask in the Agency Nursing forum.... there are lots of traveler's there. Also what agency is this?
I know nightengale used to call me alot. It was confusing about the pay too but I would ask so many questions until I understand. Each agency will do it a little differently.
- Aug 4, '12 by MJB2010Did you sign anything? Be sure to read every word before you sign ANYTHING. Sounds like they are trying to pull one over on you.
- Aug 4, '12 by ReigenTravel nursing and the Travel Nursing Industry developed in response to the nursing shortage in which nurses travel to work temporary short-term nursing positions. The current severe shortage of nurses in the United States has increased the need for this type of position. To recruit qualified Registered Nurses, LPN/LVNs and Allied Health professionals hospitals and travel nurse recruitment/staffing agencies are offering incentives including higher wages, relocation assistance, furnished housing, and bonuses.
There are many reasons healthcare professionals choose to travel including higher pay, professional growth and development, and personal adventure. Travelers typically select from one to several recruitment agencies to act as an intermediary between the traveler and hospitals or other potential employers. There are over 340 Travel Nursing Companies in the U.S. as of 2009. Agencies may submit applications for numerous positions concurrently on behalf of a traveler.
Applying with one of these agencies usually involves a substantial paperwork burden. This includes completing an employment application, work history, verification of licenses and certifications, skill assessments for your nursing specialty, verification of immunizations or titers for common communicable diseases, current TB skin test or chest x-ray, a physician's statement certifying you are fit for work, and numerous other documents required by the agency. However this paperwork need only be completed once per agency. Some agencies will accept much of the paperwork completed for competing agencies. The information provided is then condensed by the agency into a summary/abstract of the traveler's credentials, skills and experience. This summary is usually referred to as a profile.
After completing the agency application process, each agency will search through temporary job postings to identify those that match your profile. The agency, after obtaining your consent, submits your profile by fax or email to the hospital. A human resources employee or department manager will review all profiles submitted for the specific job posting. No single agency has access to all temporary job postings. This is why many travelers choose to apply with several agencies.
The amount of money a hospital pays to the agency is referred to as the Bill Rate. The agency will calculate and subtract their costs, overhead and profit margin from the bill rate and then, with the difference, make a detailed offer to the traveler. Offers should include the specific dates and location of the contract, details of pay, housing or stipend amounts, insurance or other benefits as the agency may choose to include in their offer package. Agencies' costs and profit margins vary widely. This will directly affect the amount of money available to package into an offer for the traveler.
Further, different agencies will package the same amount of money quite differently. One agency may offer luxury housing, high end health insurance, license reimbursement, a rental car and many other perks. Another may not offer health insurance, may provide low quality housing or even no housing at all. It is important to understand that there is no such thing as free housing or other free benefits. All of these things have a cost. Since all costs and compensation must come out of the bill rate, a traveler working for an agency offering a high level of "extras" will probably be paid lower wages than one working for an agency that offers few or no non-wage perks.
If the traveler, tentatively accepts the terms and conditions of the offer, the agency will arrange for a telephone interview between the manager and the traveler in most cases. Assuming a successful interview, a formal contract will be prepared by the agency and sent to the traveler for their signature. Every aspect of compensation, including wages, stipends, reimbursements, housing, insurance, and any other perks is subject to negotiation between both parties and should be adjusted and spelled out in the written contract which ultimately is, with both parties signature, legal acceptance of the terms and conditions of the assignment contract.
The usual requirements for becoming a travel nurse are a minimum of one year of clinical experience in one's specialty and licensure in the state of employment, usually granted through reciprocity with the home state's board of nursing. Some travel agencies will reimburse travelers for the cost of the license or other required certifications. While only a minimum of one year of experience is required, it is highly advisable to have two or more years of experience prior to becoming a travel nurse. A travel nurse may receive a minimal orientation to the assignment hospital, most often only one or two days. Some travelers may receive no orientation at all. This is a subject that should be clarified in the interview. Travel nurses are expected to be very experienced and knowledgeable in their specialty by their assignment hospital.
If the nurse's home state has joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLCA), the nurse can work in any compact state using their home state license. The nurse must have a license (RN or LPN) in good standing in their resident Compact state. There are currently 23 states participating in NLCA with Missouri pending implementation.
Travel nursing assignment
Travelers typically work under a short-term contract (usually ranging from 4 to 13 weeks). Contracts outside of the U.S. can last 1-2 years. Frequently an extension or a permanent position is offered by the hospital at the end of the contract.
If travel agencies provide housing it usually consists of a one bedroom furnished apartment although other options can be arranged. Utilities (electric, water, trash) may be included. Telephone, cable TV and sometimes Internet service can be included. Housing often includes basic furnishings and may include a washer and dryer, dishwasher and a microwave but this must be clarified during negotiations. Many companies also provide housewares, which include pots, dishes, utensils and linens.
The housing is typically arranged by the travel nursing agency in the company name. Some companies allow the travel nurse to participate in the search and selection process. Some parts of the country are much harder to secure reasonable housing than others.
Nearly all agencies will offer a housing stipend if the nurse chooses to secure housing independently of the agency. Stipend amounts can be very substantial - often higher than the actual wages - and these may be provided tax free if the traveler has a qualifying tax home. The stipend is attractive to travelers who prefer to obtain their own housing, those who travel in RVs, and to those simply trying to maximize their income and who are able to secure inexpensive housing. Some companies require the traveler to take the housing stipend. The housing stipend or the value of the provided housing will be taxed as part of the pay if the traveler does not have a qualifying tax home.
A travel allowance is generally paid by the travel agency which may or may not cover all Travel costs.
Some agencies offer healthcare insurance or reimbursement for insurance held elsewhere, the ability to contribute to 401(k)accounts (sometimes with matching funds), licensure reimbursment, referral bonuses for referring other travelers and loyalty reward type programs. Some companies are even starting to add vacation and sick days, stock investment options and continuing education reimbursements.
Salary and benefits
Salary averages are widely variable. Salary may change based on the location, the need of the hospital or nursing unit, the perceived staffing needs by the unit manager and the ability of the traveler to negotiate. Great differences are seen in various locations of the country. Generally, areas in the southern United States pay less than areas in the north or west. Areas where housing costs are high can impact salary ranges, as well. Travel nursing positions often can pay more than stationary nurse jobs depending on locations and demand.
There may be tax benefits, commonly called "Tax Advantage" or "Per Diem" pay, if the traveler maintains a "tax home" while working and living away from that home. The tax-free reimbursement covers meal and incidentals as well as lodging. Some companies only offer the tax free lodging component, while others provide both. A "tax home" is a dwelling that you live in, maintain and return to between assignments. You must have living expenses at your tax home that you duplicate because your business requires you to be away from that home.
Tax-free money is a complicated subject and many travel companies have little understanding of the tax implications for the traveler, often encouraging travelers who do not qualify to take it, leaving them at risk in an IRS audit. It is highly advisable to consult a travel tax expert prior to accepting tax free money.
There are additional costs of being a traveler, which include additional licensing costs, traveling costs. These costs may be reimbursed to varying degrees depending on what company you use, your recruiter and your own negotiating skills.
Often nurses will dream of traveling as a way of getting financially ahead and seeing the world. That dream can turn into a nightmare though if a traveler is not prepared and educated. Being a successful traveler requires using good financial planning, a flexible outlook, knowing what companies and recruiters to deal with, what questions to ask, and how to negotiate.
The Professional Association of Nurse Travelers is the non-profit national organization representing nurse travelers in the US. The best inside advice covering pitfalls and workarounds comes from traveler-produced websites, blogs and forums on the web. Travel Nurses may get to go any where in the United States or other countries as well. This can be a big opportunity for many people, so you need to consider traveling when you become a nurse.
- Aug 4, '12 by HollywoodDivaRun from that and don't sign anything!!! You will get screwed if you take that assignment with that agency.
- Aug 7, '12 by northcalgirlTrust your instincts! This does NOT sound right. Most professional staffing companies have a housing department and make sure that you have safe, decent housing...especially for a NEW traveler!!! This is bad sign #1.
Most good agencies will hold your hand the first time around...which means going through your contract word for word and setting up your housing!! I have been traveling for a year and I find my own housing now but this is MY choice, not becasue my company passed me off to Craigslist! yikes!!
What company is this? ( you may save other nurses from a serious mistake).
- Aug 8, '12 by theopenroad54I feel for you, I really do! I have been through pretty much the same scenario that you've given above. For the past month or month and a half, I have been applying to around five or six separate agencies. In this time, I've yet to find one that offers me anywhere near what they promise. They always start off with this long-lost friend attitude, basically stating "Hey I haven't seen you in a while, how have you been. Boy have I got a deal for you". Then they proceed to throw glitter in your eyes by telling you all the wonderful things they are going to do for you. It really doesn't take too long before they start systematically taking away those offers.
It's like it's a big game to them, and it probably is. Just to see how far they can push you, and how much they can get away with NOT giving you what you need. I've even had 2 recruiters so far basically came out with a condescending attitude stating "Come on, you're a big boy, you know that nothing is free" and then proceeding to not only refer me to craigslist, but to tell me that it would be in my best interest to take an individual room in someone else's house during my assignment. Boy when I be raking in the money than. And I probably would. But there is no way that I'm going to live like that. I'm 54 years old and have a dog that has been with me for the past eight years. I'm not going to put myself or him through an experience like that even if it were a good one. I like my privacy and I like a private place to return to after work to chill out. Not an option!
And then, they began finding problems with my submissions before they even began actual submissions. I have admitted freely and openly that I am a recovering addict. I believe in anonymity, but also feel that it is in my best interest to keep this open, not shouting it from the rooftops, but not trying to hide it either. But with this admission to these agencies comes another whole world of hurt. They begin picking on the most minute things. Having gone through disciplinary action as a result of self reporting, my license was reported to both NURSYS and the national practitioners data base. Of course, even though my license is in good standing, there are still marks against me which I am attempting to clean up. This is just another step for me. And I will keep stepping forward.
I had two other agencies state that my ACLS was unacceptable, and that I had to update it before they would begin submissions. It was due in October anyway, but the fact is, that I've been using this company for recertification for the past four reasserts, and never had a problem. But these agencies seem to be using anything that they can find to throw back at me.
Through all of this, I have yet to have a single submission contact me for a possible assignment. I have even begun to begin searching for a full-time job somewhere just to avoid all of the hassles. This is not something I really wanted to do, but all of this is becoming a little too much for me. It's a second full-time job, and I'm believing it's really not worth it. Of course, these are all just my opinions and experiences. I wish I could give you a positive outlook on all of this. Just be careful when you're out there. My reasoning being that if they treat you like this before you take an assignment, what will they be like after you've taken that assignment. The good news being that it is only for a limited amount of time. 13 weeks and you're gone. And while you're there, you can talk to other travelers and find out how they do things. I'm sure that will help.
- Aug 8, '12 by klondikeI was a traveler for 22 years and loved it. I got to see the US from HI to AK and the USVI to PA. I just retired last year. I can give you four words of advise about traveling with this company. NO, NO and HELL NO. This is the old bait and switch technique used by disreputable companies that want to suck you in and then take all the advantage of you they can. Try to get recommendations from other travelers. Ask you facilitator to put you in contact with a nurse currently on assignment there. If they won't or say they can't just hang up and look for another agency. The travel nurse industry is getting tougher and some companies will say almost anything to get you on an assignment. Good Luck.
- Aug 8, '12 by RNamWhat kind of requirements are there for working outside of the US as an RN?