local candidate for traveling agency

  1. I am considering going with a traveling agency but surprisingly they offer $10 less since I am a local candidate, plus it's all night shifts. I worked at my local hospital for six years and left 6 months ago (on good terms) for a dream icu job. Unfortunately the ICU job didn't work out. Since I've two young children, traveling too far is not a good option for me. I'm wondering whether traveling agencies always offer lower rates for local candidates or it's agency specific? thanks.
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    About singleye

    Joined: Sep '10; Posts: 14; Likes: 9

    4 Comments

  3. by   NedRN
    Local generally pays less and there are no tax benefits. With children, you are usually better off with staff for benefits such as good health insurance. If you have insurance from another source, it is possible that local travel will net better than staff.
  4. by   ChrisMMS
    It's going to vary from facility to facility, some of them will have a "Radius" rule where they will pay you less or won't accept you if you are within a certain distance. By as NedRN states the benefits and stability of being a staff nurse may be a better option than traveling at this point.
  5. by   singleye
    Thanks both! What's your intake for 1.5 hours (one way) commute to work? I live in a small town, way more options and much better rate if I travel to a bigger city 1.5 hours away. rotating shifts though. thanks again.
  6. by   NedRN
    This is a bit complicated but I'll give you the gist. As a preface: I don't think a three hour commute on top of a twelve an a half hour shift (plus at least another hour to give time for any commute issues, and parking lot time) is safe or healthy. Perhaps doable if you work every other day, but still pretty miserable.

    However, if you can work stacked shifts (three days in a row), and there are travel assignments available, and you can simply stay in the city for those three days and still manage family issues (which would also be problematic with commuting), you can take advantage of most of travel's significant tax benefits. These include a large tax free housing stipend. It should be easy to find an inexpensive house share arrangement at the work city - you are a desirable housemate only there for 3 nights a week, and basically minimal occupancy during those three days. The rest of the stipend is yours tax free. As is most of a tax free per diem.

    There are some caveats to this arrangement. One mentioned already by ChrisMMS is that the hospitals may deem you in their local job pool and not allow you to take travel assignments - although an hour and a half away is usually sufficient. A second is that the tax benefits go away if you work over one year in this same city (if there is another one in a different direction, you can alternate).

    It is best tax wise to receive these stipends directly from an agency. You can however do your own thing and deduct your actual housing costs and some of the per diems from your tax return. However for them to be deductible, you do need a time limited contract. Open ended jobs are "permanent" to the IRS and not eligible for the benefits of working away from home temporarily. So you would need a contract. A local agency should be OK with writing such a contract. Ideally, they will also get a contract with the hospital for block booking so you have some security knowing your scheduled shifts will not go away.

    So if the travel doesn't work for you, you can still go staff at the city hospital if you can see a financial benefit. But I would still recommend local housing and stacked shifts. Think about the commute time of three plus hours, either once a week, or three times a week. Add that into your weekly total hours and divide into your pay. That is your real pay per hour. Compare to your local hospital pay.

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