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Travel staffing nurse during COVID


Specializes in Geriatrics/Staffing Nurse. Has 6 years experience.

Hi everyone! I am looking for some insight..I work as a staff member at a LTC/SKILLED facility, and I also travel with a staffing agency. The agency I work for has no work locally so I travel at least an hour. I receive a flat rate that is pretty decent, because there are no perks or benefits, and agency nurse work (in my experience) is always tough, especially when staffing LTC facilities.
I am traveling this week 1.5 hours to a COVID + facility. I will have no increase in wage, no PPE supplied by my agency because they state that the facility has proper PPE. Is anyone else doing this? Are you receiving crisis rates from your employer? I’ve been with this agency for a year, I love the flexibility, but every facility at this time that they have available to staff is COVID +. I’ve seen a few other posts about crisis pay, and I’ve seen a lot of difference of opinion, just wondering what other staffing nurses are doing/what their agencies are doing for them!

I just started an agency job for LTC, but this is my first experience with an agency. I'm not sure how they normally work. I get paid $52 for this particular location for day shift. I know that this facility starts RNs at $30. For what the agency pays me, I negotiated for $10 more than what the agency offered. When I was a LPN, I never negotiated my pay, but I was told by a male nurse to always negotiate, that he did even as a brand spanking new nurse, and he got more money for it.

So I took his advice, and have negotiated with every job since, and I have found that EVERY single facility (with the exception of union and PRN pay), it was negotiable. Yes, I was a new RN, but I had LPN experience and I asked very nicely anyway. Hospitals gave less in negotiation (less than $2, usually less), and nursing homes more. At my current job (LTC) , they just increased their pay rates, but I started with $3.50 more than what they offered. This agency will be paying me $10 more, but this agency job is temporary, and it's a crisis rate. You get locked in the rate you get paid from the start. At least, that's what I've been told. So if you get paid x amount of dollars when you begin at a particular location, that is the contract amount. I don't know if that's true or not. I travel about 40 min for this one.

I notice non crisis rates around here are around $36ish, which I don't think is enough because PRN for LTC is usually around $35. The agency does not provide PPE, the facility does. I lucked out with a place that has tons of PPE. They are a very wealthy company, and we get one N95 per shift. Gloves, gowns are no problem. They don't have many surgical masks, but with the face shield they provide and N95, people generally don't wear surgical masks anyway. They do fit test all staff for the N95s, including agency.

My current job (not the agency job) is horrible with PPE and gave one surgical mask and one N95 to each employee to wear forever. So if they did have agency nurses, I would expect them to do the same for them probably. They are too cheap to hire agency though. I'm surprised they gave me more than what I had asked for in the beginning for a starting pay rate knowing what I know now about them now.

But I would try to negotiate with them, esp if it's at a new location, they have Covid people, or you do off shifts, long drive. I would not drive 1.5 hours unless they were paying me some serious $$ Or I would try calling other agencies, and see what they have to offer. Than you have a better idea of what they are paying. If they ask you what your minimum wage, always add $ to what you would expect, so they can negotiate down. Who knows...they might give it to you:)

NurseChristinaB, CNA, LPN

Specializes in Geriatrics/Staffing Nurse. Has 6 years experience.

WOW!! Thank you so much for all the information!! When I started with this agency they told me my flat rate for everywhere was $25. I have been to this particular LTC facility before and was paid $25 per hour, today they asked if I wanted 2 day shifts at that same facility and I asked for $27 an hour d/t the travel time, and the fact we don’t get any mileage.. I’ve heard from other agency nurses I’ve ran into that you should always request more as well.. compared to other rates and agencies I definitely think I am at one of the lowest paying ones, especially for the fact that I have to travel so far for work and get no mileage pay.

Also - I had to call the health department to find out about the COVID positive patients at this facility because when I asked the recruiters, I never received an answer. 🙄

Thankfully my husband works in the steel industry and has access to N95s and he will be bringing me some for my shifts this week because I was told once by a recruiter that “once I accept the shift and enter the facility there is nothing they can do for me” 👍

Your welcome:) Now you know you others are paying more, there is your negotiating power. I have heard the pay rates vary from facility to facility, because some facilities will pay more, so agency can pay you more. But of course, they are a business and will try to pay you as less as they can. One of the ways I would negotiate would be to find out about pay rates at a particular facility and around the area so I could bring it up that for that area or facility, the pay offered was lower than other places. Then they would raise the price on what they offered. I hope you get better pay😀