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Urgent advice needed for first assignment

Travel   (3,235 Views | 12 Replies)
by Trickster122 Trickster122 (New) New

Trickster122 has 4 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

663 Profile Views; 9 Posts

I feel like I have a great agent and she is quick to respond to my calls and everything but I"m concerned about my pay for this assignment. It would seem both this agency and the other one I'm working with say they do 20 base rate of pay with the allowances they pay you tax free to make your effective rate of pay. I understand the concepts and I've seen NED RN talk on here about how overtime wages should be negotiable. My agent i'm working with is telling me that "law requires we pay 1.5 pay rate but that comes out of our pockets, we charge the hospital a flat rate for any hour you work so the extra 50% comes out of what we are paid, the hospital doesn't pay us overtime rate if you work overtime" as being the reason they refuse to give me anything over that 1.5 which would be 30/hr based on the set rate. Also tried getting other bonuses to compensate for it but all they did was increase my housing stipend and lower my per diem weekly pay to compensate. As if I couldn't see what they were doing. I have until Monday to take this assignment. It went from having trouble getting an interview to landing my job the same day I had one. Oh and one last thing they say my assignment starts on 18th but I have not got licensed there yet, they claim it takes 2 weeks max for Arkansas and i'd have it by the time I left. I'm skeptical after stories I've heard about arriving and not having license to work. So should I put my 2 weeks notice into work now so I'll be ready and risk it. Or wait til I have my license/approval for it, then put a 2 week notice in? Oh the woes of traveling the first time. I won't even get into my frustrations of finding decent insurance with 500 deductible for me and my wife.

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3 Followers; 1 Article; 5,436 Posts; 45,946 Profile Views

1. You don't have an agent working for you, you have a recruiter whose primary loyalty lies with the agency. Careful with language!

2. If you have read my posts, you will know that I believe choices are important. If you had other agencies signed up and a Plan B, and a Plan C, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

3. Labor law requires paying at least time and a half for overtime, no law against paying more.

4. Contracts that pay a flat rate for all hours worked? No. The least beneficial for the agency are some that pay base plus $10 an hour, which is enough to pay $60 an hour for overtime and still make a small profit. Not that it matters what lie they tell you.

5. Do you want to work overtime? Is overtime available? You are not required to work overtime (unless you are on a shift and patient abandonment applies). If the agency doesn't want to provide even a minimal incentive to work overtime (what they are providing is a disincentive, you will actually experience a drop in pay for overtime), either don't work overtime (their loss), or don't work for them at all (which is where Plan B would kick in).

You want to believe you have a great recruiter (human nature), yet your story doesn't reflect that. On the other hand, to develop a Plan B right now might cost you loss of earnings, and if you can only afford a $500 deductible, I'm guessing you are living check to check. Getting a completed successful travel assignment on your work history will give you more options for your second assignment, so on balance, there may be a slight edge to recommending this assignment based on the facts I have. On the other hand, since you are actually in a staff job, you can regroup and start over.

Of course check, but the agency has their reputation on the line if they say you are taking this assignment, thus their info about licensure should be correct. Indeed, you should be able to get a temp in AR within a couple days.

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LadyTiger44 has 6 years experience.

235 Posts; 6,754 Profile Views

I am not sure how to advise you about this. Does the company not offer insurance? The OT rate sounds very low to me. That alone would make me skeptical. Have you tried talking to any other companies. I have a few that I use and keep in touch with. The assignment I am on is currently with Travel Nurse Across America, but I also speak with Trinity Healthcare (which is ran by an ex-travel RN), Trustaff (who I am thinking about taking a contract with), Medical Solutions, RN Network, and Cross Country. I would shop around before you jump into something.

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Trickster122 has 4 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

9 Posts; 663 Profile Views

1. Perhaps your right, when she adjusted wages to increase my pay all she did was juggle the numbers increasing one and lowering the other.

2. I'm working with onward at this point but I have also spoke with fastaff with little result and recently started with medical solutions.

3. I requested increase in overtime pay and got shot down, I didn't ask high as 60 though. They don't require overtime by any means but following the advice of those in the forums. I did ask the manager if it was an option and she said yes if I was interested they offer it to travel nurses.

It would be my first assignment and the description from the manager sounded like it was a good fit for me. Just concerned that I'm going be stuck between leaving my current staff job and the assignment waiting on license. Also that I'm not being paid fair wages and being taken advantage of due to my first assignment. I'm living comfortably on my current wages with my wife however I need this/a travel assignment to put up money for other personal reasons. It almost feels like gambling, to take the assignment and hope for the best or wait and shop around more with agencies.

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Trickster122 has 4 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

9 Posts; 663 Profile Views

They do offer insurance but the premium seems high but that's probably just because I've always had hospital insurance, which appear to be quite lower. I am researching with other companies though including medical solutions. I was thinking 3 agencies would be enough to look around for assignments but I see you have many. Would you suggest I invest more into finding more accommodating agencies? Seems like after so many one couldn't keep track of them all.

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LadyTiger44 has 6 years experience.

235 Posts; 6,754 Profile Views

Travel Nurse Across America provides free insurance for the traveler. I pay a deductable for my boyfriend to have insurance. I would look into the and also Trinity. I have never taken a contract with Trinity, but it seems like an awesome company. I am really enjoying traveling with TNAA. I would talk to a couple more agencies. There are also some good Facebook groups for travelers where you can ask questions and get great replys of nurses who have traveled with different companies. Looking into gypsynurse.com and she also has a couple of Facebook pages.

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3 Followers; 1 Article; 5,436 Posts; 45,946 Profile Views

About five agencies is probably about the maximum to be able to keep up-to-date with at a time. You have to develop a communication plan with your agencies, perhaps insisting on emails/texts/Facebook over phone calls. But you can always drop the agencies, perhaps this current one, that provide no added value. Three good agencies is certainly better than one bad one, even if five may be too much work for you. They shouldn't be the first three you talk to, or get recommendations for.

To find the right agencies for you, it is all about your communication with your recruiter. The agency brand is far less important. If you communicate well, you will be able to talk turkey with (honest and trustworthy) and negotiate, something that doesn't seem to be going well with your current single recruiter. It is also much easier to sort out the lies from the truth when you have other recruiters serving as fact checkers, as well as determine "fair" pay for a location.

There is seldom such thing as a truly free lunch. While regular employers do a good job of hiding the true cost of benefits, the reality is that insurance is paid for by the employee, period. "Free" or low copayments for premiums simple serve to obfuscate the truth that insurance is coming out of your pay.

It is likely that your hospital group insurance is higher real cost (yet may still be good value) than most of your options, which include agency insurance, private insurance, and healthcare exchange insurance (Obamacare). You should be easily able to find the real cost by asking hospital benefits what the cost to COBRA their insurance is, and you can extend your current insurance for up to 18 months if you can get over the sticker shock.

While it might seem that you are paying more out of pocket for high deductible insurance, the reality is that you are paying less per year (unless you have certain chronic conditions) in total. Always go for the highest deductible possible (and you can pay for some of that pretax with an HSA or health savings account). Affordability means being able to cover that deductible with cash in the bank, and at least three months more living expenses besides (no matter what insurance you have). If you don't have that much liquidity, then your health care costs will be higher, similar to people with poor money management that are carrying a high interest credit card balance.

The primary reasons to have health insurance is not cheap healthcare (that is completely illusionary), but to have access to insurance company contracted prices (the in-network cost), and catastrophe coverage. It is not to have a 500 dollar annual deductible and $5 doctor visits, that will make your insurance costs crazy expensive, or the quality crazy bad (like the option of only one physician who isn't accepting new patients).

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3 Followers; 1 Article; 5,436 Posts; 45,946 Profile Views

1. Perhaps your right, when she adjusted wages to increase my pay all she did was juggle the numbers increasing one and lowering the other.

2. I'm working with onward at this point but I have also spoke with fastaff with little result and recently started with medical solutions.

3. I requested increase in overtime pay and got shot down, I didn't ask high as 60 though. They don't require overtime by any means but following the advice of those in the forums. I did ask the manager if it was an option and she said yes if I was interested they offer it to travel nurses.

It would be my first assignment and the description from the manager sounded like it was a good fit for me. Just concerned that I'm going be stuck between leaving my current staff job and the assignment waiting on license. Also that I'm not being paid fair wages and being taken advantage of due to my first assignment. I'm living comfortably on my current wages with my wife however I need this/a travel assignment to put up money for other personal reasons. It almost feels like gambling, to take the assignment and hope for the best or wait and shop around more with agencies.

Completely your decision on taking this assignment. Issues this early raise red flags to me, but there are always other factors in a decision. It can be a bit like gambling to be sure when you have no prior experience. Here is another rationale to take a first assignment, any assignment, is chalk it down to a learning experience. And it will be! You can always try to cover your bases and ask your current employer for a leave of absence so you can return if travel is a disaster. Or see if you can go per diem if the shift requirements are not too onerous.

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Trickster122 has 4 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

9 Posts; 663 Profile Views

All things considered I believe I'm going for it. Will see about putting a 2 week notice in and applying for my license for that job in the same day. Also will check with our HR Monday; however, I doubt they will be willing to accommodate me. I'll apply to more travel agencies in the meantime. I read I need to start looking for my next assignment mid-way through my current assignment, so I can jump into the next one within a week or two of this one finishing. I'll be sure to use this site as reference and updates. Thanks again for your input.

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Trickster122 has 4 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

9 Posts; 663 Profile Views

I was informed that if they state there is a housing stipend. Lets say for example 2000 for an assignment. When it comes to the actual weekly pay that gets added to each paycheck that its 461 and something about it being based on a 52 weeks in a year. And it being how the government regulates housing stipends or something to that extent. Seems shady to me. Wanted to verify the facts as I don't see evidence of this when I googled it.

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3 Followers; 1 Article; 5,436 Posts; 45,946 Profile Views

No employer is obligated to pay a housing stipend. If they elect to pay a housing stipend, only the amount under the maximum GSA location may be treated as a non-taxed reimbursement, anything more would be taxable income. This presumes you have a tax home of course.

You may be confused about how they are quoting the stipend. They probably plan on paying it weekly not monthly. So you can multiply $2,000 by 12 months in the year, and divide by 52 weeks in the year, and get $461 a week. Some people think there are only four weeks to the month, so the person you were talking to was just pointing out that this misses four weeks a year, overstating your weekly housing stipend.

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I know my company AMN quotes the stipend as a monthly amount and divides that amount by 30 or 31 days of the month and then multiplies it by 7 to get the weekly amount. They only pay on the contract start date and it goes through the contract end which in my case was a Friday. That way they get to keep as much $$ from the contract as possible.

I think it's important to understand that these companies get paid far more than what they are paying us as travel nurses. In some cases 3-4x what they are paying you. Any thoughts on negotiating once you are offered the position? They say they are offering $20base with $30 for overtime with a $461 a week stipend... once they see that money going out the door if you don't get what you want, they may loosen up a bit. It's all supply and demand. If there are more travellers than contracts in a given area or the area is in demand such as Florida in the winter, then they are going to be less negotiable. If you are travelling to a "hot spot" then you have more bargaining power.

Let us know what you decided and how it worked out.

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