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Want to Travel Nurse, don't know where to start

Travel   (936 Views 6 Comments)
by lisayear17 lisayear17 (New) New Nurse

86 Profile Views; 2 Posts

I have two years of experience in the PCU in a smaller hospital. Currently, I'm looking into travel nursing specifically in Nashville Tennessee. How do I chose an agency to travel with? What is the average pay and cost of living in Tennessee?( Im coming from Seattle)  which hospital would be good to start with?

Thank you for all the answers in advance 

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38 Posts; 293 Profile Views

Hi! My husband is a travel recruiter. I can provide you his contact information if you'd like and he can help you with that information and if your interested he can set it all up for you 🙂

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39 Posts; 926 Profile Views

Well, picking out an agency can be an involved process. You're going to get all kinds of recommendations as to which one is the best, etc.  I've been traveling for about 9 years, dozens of contracts and have used several agencies. I have no preference to any one agency. It comes down to which one can get you a contract and how much they are going to pay. Some contracts are nice, some are awful. 

It used to be that a hospital would put out a need and most of the agencies all had the same hospital need and it would just be deciding which one had the best rate of pay for hourly and per diems. Now, the mid level vender management companies have taken over and they take their fee off of the top before your travel agency gets their cut and you finally get what's left over. 

When I look for a new assignment, I put out a feeler to several companies at the same time. For my last contract I was working with 4 agencies at the same time. Each agency has the same contracts for a hospital as the others and each agency has their "direct bill" contracts where the others don't have them. Some mid level management companies work with certain travel agencies and vice versa as some travel agencies don't want to get gouged by the percentage that  mid level management companies take off the top of what the hospital pays out for a traveling RN

Best advice is to find an agency that has health insurance from day one. Some agencies don't give you health insurance until the first day of the month after you start your contract.  Also, the agency should be giving you a travel stipend, usually $400-500. Most agencies all offer the usual health insurance benefits, 401K, etc. Also make sure the agency is going to pay you the max rate for your meals and housing according to the GAO website for the zip code where the hospital is that you will be assigned to. 

Being a travel RN isn't the glamourous lifestyle that people think it is. While it is a rewarding career and I enjoy it, bottom line is that travel agencies are in business to make money off of you. The less they pay you the more your agency recruiter is going to make in commissions.  You would be surprised as to the difference once agency vs. another will have in regards to what they will pay you. Contact several agencies, don't let them know you are working with other agencies and see what they are going to pay you. Before going on to any agency website and signing up and filling out stuff make sure you get a quote on:  travel stipend, hourly rate of pay (taxed), meals and per diems rate, cost of health insurance (is it day one) etc. You'll also be surprised how much one company vs. the next charges for health insurance. Some are reasonable, some are outrageous. If the agency isn't willing to let you know what the rate of pay for a certain assignment is, just contact another one. 

 

Hope this helps and good luck. 

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39 Posts; 926 Profile Views

I forgot to mention another few things to look at when comparing agencies and their contracts.  What the agency charges you for a "missed shift" fee.  Usually it's about the cost of the daily meals and per diems rate, however some agencies hammer you when you miss a shift and charge an awful fee anywhere from $160 - 300 per day that you miss. Some break it down to:  If you miss 0-4 hours, it's a certain fee, if you miss 4-8 hours, it's another and if you miss more than 8 hours, it's yet another fee. Some agencies charge a missed hours fee, usually between $15-17 per hour that you miss which I feel is the fairest way that I've personally seen. 

Some agencies, for instance in the OR where I work and the hospital is closed on a holiday, still charge you for a missed shift. Some agencies take this into account that it's not your fault the OR is closed for the holiday and don't ding you for those days because you still have to eat and pay for your lodging. It's sad when the hospital schedules you for call on a holiday and you're actually working and your agency won't pay you for your meals and per diems. Even worse when you're on call for a holiday and you never get called in. These certain agencies will  tell you that "we can't bill them if they are closed on the holiday" I know this isn't true because some agencies do pay the meals and per diems if the OR is closed for a holiday.  It's just another way of some agencies ripping you off so they can make more money. 

If you decided to have your agency pay for your apartment and you don't take the per diems stipend, make sure they take out the "missed shift" language. 

I've found that getting a good contract that is fair to the traveling nurse can sometimes be a challenge. Just make sure to remember that "you are the one that makes the agency money and without you they wouldn't make any money." Don't be afraid to have any language you object to taken out of the contract. Such as " the hospital can call you off for X amount of shifts or hours" and take out the language that you can be forced to "float" to other hospitals or departments. 

I also make sure the contract states the actual hours I will be working for instance 6:30 am to 3 pm and not just "day shift"  Also if you are taking call have the language say every 4th or 5th weekend instead of "once a month" 

Any and all days or shifts off should be spelled out as well. I've sent back a contract to certain recruiters several times until they get the language exactly how I want it to read, otherwise, refuse to sign it.  

Also, It doesn't matter what the person tells you during the phone call interview for a hospital contract, as a lot of times the person that does the actual scheduling of shifts and call has a disconnect from the person doing the interview. What matters is what is in black and white on the four corners of your contract. 

I hope all of this helps you and any other RN that is interested in being a travel RN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Posts; 461 Profile Views

That is a lot of valuable information, thanks for the insight!

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BrendaH84 has 8 years experience as a BSN.

134 Posts; 4,164 Profile Views

On 10/5/2019 at 9:44 AM, Travel_RN_0714 said:

Well, picking out an agency can be an involved process. You're going to get all kinds of recommendations as to which one is the best, etc.  I've been traveling for about 9 years, dozens of contracts and have used several agencies. I have no preference to any one agency. It comes down to which one can get you a contract and how much they are going to pay. Some contracts are nice, some are awful. 

It used to be that a hospital would put out a need and most of the agencies all had the same hospital need and it would just be deciding which one had the best rate of pay for hourly and per diems. Now, the mid level vender management companies have taken over and they take their fee off of the top before your travel agency gets their cut and you finally get what's left over. 

When I look for a new assignment, I put out a feeler to several companies at the same time. For my last contract I was working with 4 agencies at the same time. Each agency has the same contracts for a hospital as the others and each agency has their "direct bill" contracts where the others don't have them. Some mid level management companies work with certain travel agencies and vice versa as some travel agencies don't want to get gouged by the percentage that  mid level management companies take off the top of what the hospital pays out for a traveling RN

Best advice is to find an agency that has health insurance from day one. Some agencies don't give you health insurance until the first day of the month after you start your contract.  Also, the agency should be giving you a travel stipend, usually $400-500. Most agencies all offer the usual health insurance benefits, 401K, etc. Also make sure the agency is going to pay you the max rate for your meals and housing according to the GAO website for the zip code where the hospital is that you will be assigned to. 

Being a travel RN isn't the glamourous lifestyle that people think it is. While it is a rewarding career and I enjoy it, bottom line is that travel agencies are in business to make money off of you. The less they pay you the more your agency recruiter is going to make in commissions.  You would be surprised as to the difference once agency vs. another will have in regards to what they will pay you. Contact several agencies, don't let them know you are working with o

What is a GAO website?

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