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Travel position or staff position? Both available


Specializes in Neuro, med surge, Jack of all trades.

As it says: a facility out in the middle of nowhere is hiring for a staff med surge post and a travel post.

In the past decade it's almost always been postings for multiple travel nurses. And I've avoided that because I want to live in the area and had never travel nursed.

My excitement at being offered (not yet accepted) the staff position quickly waned when they offered me less than the state average pay for a graduate nurse. By comparison the travel nurse pay is $12 more per hour.

I think I understand that the weekly rate a travel nurse is quoted includes a housing stipend and food and travel costs. I get it. Doesn't matter.

What does matter to me is that the agency is actually making 2x or 3x the weekly rate listed for the nurse compared to what the facility wants to pay me.

So the facility pays out, say, $120/hr for their contract, but barely offers me over $25/hr to relocate and work wide by side with the travel nurse.

Do they think we won't inquire or ask questions? I mean, $120/hr, heck, they'd save lots of money just offering me $40/hr. 

Well, I brought this up to them and now they're reviewing the entire facilities pay rates to offer me an average. Yet, I feel my point still stands: if they're willing to pay 4x or 5x what they offer me for a contract, why not just offer me more to stay and be happy?

Seems whacked. I actually applied for the travel gig anyway. We'll see who comes back with more money first.

Why do they do this, other than greed? Because it's not cost effective when your new hire staff nurse learns they're being robbed and quits then you have to rehire someone in an isolated area, or go back to travel nurse agencies paying 4x to 5x more.

For starters, there are no travel contracts for medsurg nurses with a bill rate of $120. Totally fake news. For years, the average gross profit margin in the travel nurse industry has hovered around 24%. That is the money left over after all direct costs of compensation to the travel nurse. That includes hourly pay, travel, housing, any benefits (usually none), and the employer share of payroll costs (about 10% of taxable payroll). Add up all that compensation, add the fair profit margin (which is not net profit - that is after all other costs have been paid such as office, marketing, and recruiter pay) and you will not come close to a $120 bill rate.

Now staff pay has "hidden" benefits such as health insurance (worth $600 to $1,000 a month typically), sick pay, paid time off, vacations, and education at a minimum. It is common to estimate those benefits as costing the employer about 50% on top of a compensation package.

Generally, it is fair to think about travel similar to in-house per diem: more cash up front in lieu of benefits. Besides bigger picture benefits of travel such as well, travel, and flexibility and career development, if you have rapid cash needs such as loans, or saving for a house, you can make a pretty good financial argument to travel, especially if young and healthy.

In the long term, staff does about as well financially as travelers (travelers do not make "4x or 5x" staff - that's just silly if you think about it: there would be no staff nurses if true). Job stability, raising a family, and benefits make for a more comfortable life for the vast majority of nurses. There are only about 30,000 travel nurses at peak compared to 3.8 million total nurses in the US. Sure, those 30,000 nurses whose bill rates fluctuate directly with supply and demand are in a good position to grab crises rates for a few months while such needs are critical (more for specialty nurses though), but then it is back to bread and butter assignments.

Up to you which modality works better for you right now. But your assumptions about how business works, both travel and hospital's, are way off. You will be able to make better decisions with less emotional feeling about "excess" profit others are making off of you and what is actually best for you.

Also I was told by an administrator friend that hospitals get to write off travel nurses at the end of the year at tax time, so it’s a huge savings for them in the long run. 

All business expenses are deductions before taxes are considered. That includes travel nurses, all staff, and. To the extent that travel nurses usually cost more per hour to employ than staff, no tax deduction will get that money back.


Specializes in CRNA.

good luck on the job hunt for travel nursing