California "travel" RN


I keep hearing about a lot of nurses from around town who have their California license and fly to CA for 2 weeks and work, then fly home. Im not sure if they work directly for the hospital or for a travel agency. I assume it's a contract with the hospital since they mention the hospital pays their travel expenses, but housing is up to the nurse. Has anyone else heard of such?


1,221 Posts

Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

Are you hearing from around town or directly from someone that does it. If so, let me know what hospital.

They will do it for interim management and above jobs on a regular basis. Never heard of it for staff though. Makes no sense that they would pay for airfare but not housing.

Specializes in Critical Care, ER, Cath lab. Has 7 years experience.

This is coming directly from those on the ground. And the money the pull almost seems too good to be true. I want to investigate it but it seems like a very closely guarded secret. It seems partially realistic since Cali was hit really hard by the nursing shortage


1 Article; 5,766 Posts

Nope on the travel pay. The deal is you make enough to cover travel costs yourself. Argo is right about interim management. But they work for a third party just as travelers do. Ultimately, the hospital covers all expenses that an agency has, including regular travelers. Except for strikes, I've never heard of a cost plus contract from the hospital. The rule is an all inclusive bill rate.

Have never seen a manager work such a schedule though. Their contracts are typically the same length as ours. The nurses who work some number of weeks have block booking and self scheduling and are hospital employees. The rule can vary dramatically from hospital to hospital and even they could be working under an old contract specific to them - usually around the time that California passed the staffing ratio law and hospitals needed consistent staffing. Union pay there is very appealing to many nurses, usually within a hour and a half flight and they net more than working at home even after travel. Fully benefited as well.

Just to give you an idea on block booking, my one and only staff job had 6 week self scheduling. Theoretically, I could work 18 days the first of one schedule, and the last 18 days of the next schedule, and have 48 days off in a row.

So the California rumors that surface once in a while about such nurses are true, but the travel part is an artifact of playing telephone. It may still be possible to get a job at such a hospital, but unless you can find such a unicorn nurse to tip you off, the hunt and peck with a thousand HR departments to find open jobs and then scheduling rules would be insufferable. I can give you a tip from the old days though, a number of such nurses worked in San Jose. Possibly O'Connor who seems to be hosting a lot of travelers right now.


49 Posts

I have worked with two such sets of people. One at mercy San Juan in Sacramento. The other in Redding ca. One was a married couple who actually lived in Mississippi believe it or not and the other was Florida. They were both per diem and worked blocks of shifts sometimes for ten or twelve days in a row. Money was ungodly and well worth it. I was shown pay stubs to prove it. Pay was over ten grand after tax each for the married couple. So is it possible? Yes. I am direct witness that it is done. I can say that my wife and I do pretty well just doing travel and without the hassle of working such schedules and messing with flights and airfare and all the rest.


1 Article; 5,766 Posts

If the hospital is OK with paying OT on such stacked shifts, the time and a half and double-time will make for large checks. If there is an agreement that you self schedule anyway you like over some longer period like a month, there may not be paid overtime until you meet your commitment. There wasn't in my own example with self scheduling.

That said, you can still see checks of that size without overtime. A reasonable pay rate in both Sacramento and Redding is $50 an hour. Times 84 hours a week is $4,200. Two week paycheck would then be $8,400. If they are closer to $60 an hour then $10,000 is reasonable. But if there is no overtime, there is no special advantage over a normal staff job in California. The chances are that your lost personal time from travel and travel expenses make any reduction in housing costs (which are duplicated in California and your home) a wash.

The reason do explore such options is probably not strictly money, but lifestyle. I met a nurse from New Mexico who did this and mentioned that she had a huge and beautiful house, one that would have cost many millions in California. Her enjoyment of her house and of course friends and family made that kind of schedule worthwhile to her.


33 Posts

Specializes in Stepdown telemetry, vascular nursing.. Has 4 years experience.

My hospital hires travel nurses constantly in Ca. It is a contract, but from what I know, the shortest assignment is a 6 week- period. You get extra pay from what i hear. It covers expenses.

Specializes in Critical Care, ER, Cath lab. Has 7 years experience.

Wow! Definitely some good information here. I can say for sure that San Jose and the Bay Area were both mentioned. I couldn't be happier that Redding was mentioned. I was there earlier this year and absolutely loved the place. The rates listed would be a major improvement and a 14/14 schedule would be very nice as well. This calls for further investigation. I don't mind doing the footwork. Does anyone know if the Kaiser facilities entertain such contracts?


1,698 Posts

Does anyone know if the Kaiser facilities entertain such contracts?

I've read on this site that Kaiser doesn't let their employees stack shifts that way.

But I may be wrong. Browse the CA forum. The poster NickiLaughs mentioned that.


3 Posts

I've traveled in the past through staffing companies. They will reimburse travel and give you a housing stipend. I few things to consider: you'll often have to find your own housing, which is fine if you don't mind the hunt. It can be hard to get your California license (it just takes forever) but a good staffing company will help you. I've even worked with companies that provide meal stipends and health insurance while I'm traveling. Staffing companies seem the way to go if you'd like to start traveling.


27 Posts

I heard of people doing this. It's basically a per diem position directly through the hospital. The hospital will require a certain amount of shifts per month. They fly in do there shifts in a row and roll out. It can be done but very very hard. Getting hired directly is very hard out here. Jobs are very competitive. You have to know someone high up in management or sleep with someone to get hired on. I would image it would be hard to work out schedule wise since per diem is always the first to get canceled or sent home when census drops. Hotels are expensive so I don't really see the benefit. But I think it really depends on specialty. I'm med surg, tele, step down. Not worth it. But if your CVOR you can make some serious bank. This is an elusive holy grail of travel nursing and people shouldn't get their hopes up.


3 Posts


I've worked tons of per diem shifts and I've never slept with anyone! Most of my shifts have been 13 weeks and I've worked with a staffing company. I received a housing stipend, so I didn't even have to stay in a hotel. I've taken assignments as far as 8 hours away though and I just drove. If you want to know of a good staffing company, let me know...I know of a few. There are actually more positions than there are nurses willing to travel.