What are some good traveling agencies to look in to? Do they have short term jobs or are most of them 6 month terms?
This is most likely more than you wanted....
Presently there are over 340 U.S. Travel Nurse
Companies (110 are Joint Commission Certified) and
over 480 Travel Nurse Companies, (U.S. &
International), also staffing Allied Healthcare
There are an estimated 25,500 RNs working travel
in the U.S. The number of LVN/LPN
Nurse or Allied Healthcare Travelers is not
Travel 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
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
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
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
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