I am planning on being a first time traveler starting this summer. I am going to the D.C. area because I have a friend there and thought that would be a good place for a first assignment. Because I'm location specific and the D.C. area is expensive, I am not expecting to make tons of money. However, I've been disappointed at what I've been quoted by two of the agencies I've talked to. I would basically be making the same that I make at home with American Mobile. FlexCare is offering more but they do not provide license or travel reimbursement. Aureus says that they can only guess at a pay rate at this point. They are guessing at a much higher pay rate that what I make now + housing + travel and nursing license reimbursement. It's hard for me to believe they can pay so much more than the other two companies have quoted me though!
Does anyone have any experience with these companies? What should I expect to be making?
Jan 31, '14
Guessing about pay? I could do that too, but it wouldn't mean any more - at least I'm not trying to recruit you. Aureus is one of the few agencies I don't recommend to anyone, but particularly not for new travelers. They will take advantage of you (already have from what I'm hearing you say). I haven't heard a lot of good things about Flexcare either, and American Mobile is, well, American Mobile - the biggest agency in the country - lots of jobs, perhaps not so much on pay. Definitely talk to a few other agencies. You might also try local agencies such as First Assist (they also do travel). DC should pay better than average, and way better if you are used to Deep South pay. You didn't say where you are from or what your specialty is so no idea what you consider to be good money.
Jan 31, '14
I work labor & delivery in Missouri. So the pay is very low...but so is cost of living. I keep hearing that travel nursing is supposed to pay well. Any other agencies you would recommend?
Feb 1, '14
There are lots of great agencies out there. However, your success with them will depend largely on your ability to communicate with your recruiter and vice versa. In fact, it is probably better to have a good recruiter with a bad agency than the other way round. So call many agencies and pick the best five to continue the sign up process. I can promise that the entry recruiter at Aureus was high balling you just to get you to sign up (you would be assigned a real recruiter once all the paperwork was done). It is not worth signing up with agencies until you weed them out a bit.
But as a start to you to-call list try Valley (either agency with that name), TotalMed, PPR. That is just off the top of my head and you may get some negative reviews of those agencies. But remember to focus on your recruiter conversation and not the agency brand and you will do fine. As a disclaimer, I do have some personal experience with PPR. They are known for service, not high pay, and that is what I experienced on a short contract at Hopkins. I think of them as being especially good for new travelers where assignment smoothness and getting a completed assignment on your work history being more important than pay. Of course, as an L&D nurse, you won't have any trouble getting a first contract.
By the way, I'm not sure if you are staying with your friend in DC. But the bottom side of Baltimore is only 30-40 minutes from the Mall - I lived there for three years. There are tons of hospitals around DC in Maryland and Virginia. Even Frederick MD is very drivable. Housing may cost you significantly less in the the greater DC area and your effective pay higher. A really good local agency used to be First Assist - I worked for them several years off and on for travel assignments and they used to have contracts with most area hospitals. Pay was higher than most.
Feb 1, '14
I'm a new traveler, finishing up my 2nd assignment, just got my 3rd, and I have been with Aureus for both locations so far. They have been nothing but helpful and friendly to me. My pay is comparable to what other travelers with different companies make, so I don't feel like I'm being lowballed or anything.
I do believe that each experience and opinion of companies will be different and widely varied, just because it depends largely on how well you get along with your recruiter! I usually take it all "with a grain of salt", just because I have heard bad and good things about each company I've signed up with! I'm also with Med Express (American Mobile), and just signed my 3rd contract with them. They have a lot of locations and most people I've talked to recommend them.
I was working in St. Louis before starting traveling, so I know exactly what you mean by low pay in MO. I would be careful with the "guessing" with Aureus and make sure you get final numbers in writing before submitting or continuing on with them.
Feb 1, '14
Thanks to both of you for the advice. It helps to hear personal experiences others have had with different agencies.
Feb 1, '14
I'm happy that Aureus has done good by you. Someone just posted a link to a very long thread about Aureus on another forum where they sued a pregnant nurse, and threatened her with a stop work injunction which could have potentially landed her in jail had she gone to work. While that was a very sad story (I was directly involved with legal assistance for her and so have the full story) and sufficient reason by itself to actively recommend that no one works for such an agency, Aureus has been on never use (never think about using) for many years before this incident in 2009 for many bad business practices, including the alleged high pay and allegedly not knowing what it really was in this very thread by someone innocent of such ruses.
The reason I bring this up was not really to drag Aureus through the mud directly, but for something I only just found out about Aureus. I reread that long Aureus thread, and other than a couple of Aureus recruiters posing as travelers (another highly unethical practice), I noticed that everyone who had something good to say about Aureus was not a nurse! Aureus started life as a radiology agency, and they apparently treat radiology and therapy travelers much better than nurse travelers. For the most part it is extremely rare for nurses to sing the praises of Aureus.
But as I've always said, every agency, even including Aureus, has happy travelers. Trying another agency or two may give you a new perspective. I've read of Aureus travelers who worked a year or two for them and had no idea of how much they were being underpaid. Of course I'm sure they don't underpay everyone, but they do have a reputation for paying new travelers low, and all travelers less than promised. As I've posted before, it is not a good choice for new travelers in my opinion.
I agree with your advice to get real numbers from Aureus before proceeding. I don't think it is actually possible without filling out a full profile. The person 88nurse2010 was not a real recruiter and does not have access to those numbers and she probably wasn't lying when she said she was guessing.
Feb 3, '14
I too am looking into travel nursing in the Baltimore/DC area. I would like to go there as a first assignment because my best friend lives there. I have been researching companies and the 3 that I want to start calling are Flexcare, PHP, and IPI. I was surprised to see that Flexcare told you that they do not provide license or travel reimbursement. Their website specifically says they do. Are they lying when you call them? They are supposed to be a good company and those are 2 kinds of important travel incentives. Well, anyways have you heard of any other prospects for the Baltimore/DC area. Any other info for different companies? I am scouring for every bit of info I can find on here and all the relative websites. I want to travel, but I am admittedly nervous because this is a big change and decision to make!
Feb 3, '14
I was told FlexCare would reimburse for travel and license reimbursement, but according to the agent I spoke with they will just make deductions from your weekly pay to cover the costs. To me, that means I'm still paying for it.
Feb 3, '14
Either way, you are paying for it. I suspect Flexcare described this to you badly as this practice is certainly not common. Usually agencies will reimburse you for the receipted cost of the license (not taken out of your check - that is silly as you've already paid it - perhaps added to your check), and if you are lucky, the license verification fee(s) or any related costs such as CEUs.
That said, all your compensation comes out of the same pot. If they pay you more in one area, you will get less somewhere else. Zero sum game. Except they should reimburse you tax-free for your license fees. If they don't, you can deduct all professional expenses on your income tax return.
Feb 13, '14
I think recruiter's are the biggest deal breaker for me, I was speaking with recruiter the other day about differences in pay from different companies and she explained that their partculiar company is lower, but, it is because they follow the taxation rules closely as to where other companies to not follow as closely and if you were to be audited, that you would be the owing...not the company!
Feb 13, '14
When I started traveling in 1995, Cross Country offered so-called "Tax Advantage" (they coined the phrase and were the first to offer such a "plan" for travelers in 1991), and the then second biggest agency Travcorps (later purchased by Cross Country) told me that tax advantage plans (which meant per diems for meals and incidentals or M&IE) was illegal. Cross Country themselves bagged tax advantage in 1999 as part of their preparation for becoming a publicly traded company. It was still considered a gray area and seen as having the potential for a large retroactive IRS penalty that might deter potential investors in the initial public offering (IPO). From that point forward, only small agencies (with the exception of RN Network) had tax advantage as the large agencies saw it as too much risk (or that is what their lawyers and CFOs thought anyway). And small agencies made hay for many years with tax advantage because it allowed them to pay travelers significantly higher take home pay.
Currently the worm has completely turned around and agencies are being required by the IRS if they offer tax-free housing or a stipend to pay M&IE on top of that. Cross Country started offering tax advantage again in 2008.
The areas that are still gray is if you can pay a traveler a very low hourly (like $15 an hour), and a high tax free stipend to cover housing and M&IE (which together can be over $1,000 a week anywhere in the country). Or pay two different travelers at the same location different amounts of stipends.
Here is the truth: how an agency pays you will not affect you in an audit generally. The only reason that would not be true is if you either did not have a tax home, or were not working away from your tax home and you accepted tax free payments or housing. Then you would indeed pay back taxes an penalties if the IRS were to discover this in an audit (it would not have been the trigger for an audit either). However this would be true for the agency your recruiter was bragging on, or the agencies she was disparaging. I'd say she lied, but since it is extremely unlikely for any recruiter to understand taxation (it is not their job), it is more likely she is just parroting some sales talk.
The historical notes above were not really necessary (although I hope you found them interesting), but I just wanted to demonstrate that recruiters talking trash about other agencies is nothing new. You have to take everything any recruiter says with a grain of salt. Actually everyone for that matter, except me!
Feb 16, '14
Quote from 88nurse2010
I am planning on being a first time traveler starting this summer. I am going to the D.C. area because I have a friend there and thought that would be a good place for a first assignment. Because I'm location specific and the D.C. area is expensive, I am not expecting to make tons of money. However, I've been disappointed at what I've been quoted by two of the agencies I've talked to. I would basically be making the same that I make at home with American Mobile. FlexCare is offering more but they do not provide license or travel reimbursement. Aureus says that they can only guess at a pay rate at this point. They are guessing at a much higher pay rate that what I make now + housing + travel and nursing license reimbursement. It's hard for me to believe they can pay so much more than the other two companies have quoted me though! Does anyone have any experience with these companies? What should I expect to be making?
Aureus will not stand behind you if you have a problem. I had an 8wk contract in NM . The contract was renewed and a day later I was told that it was canceled , when I asked why they just said it was cancelled and that they would see if they could still employee me . Again when I asked what it was all about all they replied that " you were
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