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New to travel nursing


I've been working as a RN for over a year and want to start travel nursing. I've talked with some representatives from different companies, but I'm not really sure how to pick one. Any thoughts, advice, recommendations, or tips?

Easy! Talk to enough of them and you will begin to sort out the BSers from the straight talkers. Your recruiter(s) are the very most important factor for success as a new traveler so focus on that rather than agency brands (which are seldom important). Your ability to communicate with your recruiter is paramount, so pick those who communication styles and frequency match your preferences (you can ask a manager for a switch of recruiters if you have some compelling reason to choose a particular agency).

You want recruiters who really wants you long term. A good recruiter will really try to give you a good fit for your first assignment so that you succeed and have that all important first travel assignment notch on your work history. Not only will you be more likely to stay a traveler, but you will be more likely to work again with that/those recruiter(s) - that is their self interest part. Unfortunately, you are going to have better luck with experienced recruiters, but generally new travelers are assigned to new recruiters - potential recipe for a bad first assignment. It is fine to ask the first recruiter you talk to how long they have had that position in the agency or industry (recruiters hop agencies almost as much as travelers) and even tell them that you don't feel like you are good match. "Nothing personal, but our communication styles don't mesh well." You can also "qualify" an agency by asking them for specific current assignments and pay in your specialty.

Do not focus on top pay (or location) for your first assignment, and ditch recruiters who seem to focus on pay rather than the best fit for your experience and comfort level. Better pay will come almost automatically after a first successful assignment as you will be more competitive no matter the specialty. Some hospitals even don't allow candidates with no travel and you will become better at adapting to new hospitals with every assignment.

A final tip: Don't bother signing up with agencies who require you to do all the paperwork before they will discuss locations and pay. Not worth it. They may not even talk openly with you after that for one thing or may not have assignments you like, or pay is not competitive (after your first assignment of course). Kind of tough if you have a connection with the recruiter, but do understand that recruiters are in sales, their job is to "make" you like them and get you to sign up. So skip any agencies that don't talk to you, or that even have a non-recruiter talk to you first and you have to sign up to talk to an actual recruiter. It might be a great fit, but it too much work to find out (think of someone you dated that meets this description).

Ideally, you will hunt for good recruiters without giving out your contact information, even using caller ID blocking and refusing ploys to give out your phone number ("I have to go into a meeting, give me your phone number and I'll call you back"). A little late for you now perhaps, but it still a good strategy going forward with new to you agencies. It will reduce the noise coming your way for the next 20 years (personal experience). Only give out your contact info if you are convinced you want to work further with them. Take notes, think back on conversations and red flags or questions raised, and do a second round of interviewing recruiters (notice I didn't say agencies).

8-ball, BSN

Specializes in ICU, and IR. Has 10 years experience.

Can we just make Neds response a sticky? This question gets asked about 2-3 times a week.