As a travel nurse, I'm heavily involved in the community. I scour the facebook groups, LinkedIn posts, and of course, the Allnurses forum. I started travel nursing nearly two years ago and I never want to stop. It's the first time in my nursing career where I don't feel used by the system.
Hospitals preach, "Come work in a fast paced environment to develop your nursing skills and learn in a hi-tech technology. We're a teaching hospital that believes in evidenced-based practice and the team environment."
Please...What it should say is:
"We believe in long hours, crappy schedules, not approving your vacation time, not listening to the needs of the nurse, ridiculously unsafe nurse to patient ratios, marginal pay, dwindling benefits, and bullying is unacceptable but swept under the rug. Wanna work here? When can you start?"
Don't believe me? Ask any nurse that's ever worked in the southern half of the country.
I once heard a nurse say, "We're worked like Hebrew slaves down there. It's HORRIBLE!"
Not meaning to get too biblical.
Why do you think I haven't and will NEVER work in the south? It's the horrendous treatment of nurses.
No thank you!
Some people have no choice and to that, I say, "Bless you for hanging in there because thank goodness you're willing to sacrifice for your patients."
Without you, who knows if they would be alive. You truly are making a difference even if it feels like a grind.
Though, I'm over generalizing the US hospital system but these are common concerns expressed over and over again.
What does a nurse do to get away from all that crap?
Become a travel nurse of course!
I wanted to make better money, change from my mediocre life, and have an adventure.
As I've become a more experienced travel nurse, I realized an unfortunate truth.
Travel nurses simply don't trust agencies and recruiters.
Why? The answer is not very clear. Like most diseases, there isn't one particular cause.
Crappy treatment of travelers
Lack of transparency
To clarify, those issues above don't speak for EVERY travel nurse agency. There are good ones out there but it is hard to know where to begin. We'll save that process for another time.
Recently, I wrote an article on Linkedin: Transparency Needed in Travel Nursing.
In the article, I intentionally wanted to strike up a conversation.
To get people talking. I knew I was going to ruffle some feathers.
Because discussing bill rates in the travel nurse industry is very "hush-hush." But, I believe it should be the direct opposite. There needs to be a change. We need to be more open with each other. On the agency side and on the nursing side. It's a two-way street. I believe the lack of transparency is one of the biggest reasons why travel nurses distrust agencies.
Heck, that's probably a big reason why staff nurses distrust hospitals.
I wish hospitals listened to nurses more. We really know what the heck we're talking about.
One of the main reasons why travel nurses distrust agencies and recruiters is because of greed. There have been too many crooks out there that have ruined it for everyone.
Now, the online culture demolishes any good will an agency or recruiter might be trying to create or comments they add to a conversation. Recruiters are simply scared to engage the community. That's not fair because there are some fantastic ones out there I've had the pleasure of getting to know.
My goal is to defibrillate the travel nurse culture. We need to reset if we are going to start a new. But, if we are going to learn from each other, grow, and unite within a common ground, we need to talk about these important issues.
One of those important issues is bill rates.
If you aren't a travel nurse, bill rate is what the agency bills the organization per hour for your work. On average, it's about 70/hour. However, on average, the travel nurse might get $30-35/hour of that.
If we're lucky.
But, we don't get $35/hour take home. That $35/hour covers your hourly taxed rate, tax-free per diems, benefits, reimbursements, travel expenses, etc. There's a big misconception that travel nurses are getting rich. That's simply not true.
We make good money but we aren't makin' it rain the da' club!
In the Linkedin article, I promoted transparency to build trust. Just like any relationship. The more open you are the better you'll bond.
The current state is: Traveler's no longer believe agencies are taking a reasonable cut of the bill rate and trickling down a reasonable cut to the travelers. We don't know because we don't have access to the bill rate.
I know what you're thinking.
It's none of my business. Yes. Yes. I've heard it all before. However, as a travel nurse, we are empowered. We are strong. We sacrifice a great deal to leave our families, friends, and comfort. We risk our license for crappy assignments.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows like the facebook ads about traveling nursing will have you believe.
We deserve to know as travel nurses.
It's the right thing to do. Cough "Agencies hear that?" Cough
Sure, travel nursing is awesome!
Like, FREAKIN' AWESOME!
I think every staff nurse should do it at least once for a number of reasons. The main reason? You can live your life to the fullest because this fantastic career of travel nursing allows you the freedom to do so. For instance, we took nearly 3 months off work our first year (not a typical situation). But, what staff can afford to do that? Not many. As a traveler, you grow professionally, you become stronger, and you live fully. Not to say staff nurses can't do that, but traveling gives you that extra push out the door.
Like Gandolf did for Bilbo!
In the midst of all that chaos, I unleashed on Linkedin, there were a few companies that stood forward.
"Andrew, we've been transparent with our nurses for years. We tell the nurse bill rates and company financials, " they said. I was literally floored when I heard that. This was the CEO of the company!
He called me directly.
"So, you're telling me transparency helped your business grow?" I asked.
"Absolutely," he said.
In fact, he had an hour-long conversation with me the first time we talked! What CEO does that?
When's the last time a hospital administrator spent one minute with you?
When's the last time your nurse manager spent an hour with you?
What a great opportunity to pick the brain of an industry expert.
The point is there are some great companies out there.
Treating their travel nurses with respect, ethical practice, and transparency. I told this guy, "We need to get this out there! I need to share this with the world." Naturally, he was very reluctant at first.
From growing my Youtube channel, I've realized being "out there" makes you extremely vulnerable. But, I've learned when you put everything out there, people don't have verbal ammunition to hit you with. I get the occasional troll but you learn to shrug it off.
However, our first video interview was a hit! It felt very natural and we're going to team up together to shine a much-needed light into the misunderstood practices of the travel nursing world.
Because this industry needs a paradigm shift. Travel nurses need this. Simply. It's medicine.