It can be challenging to look through the long list of travel nurse agencies. Another point of reference I use to compare agencies is their perks and benefits. What do I mean by this? Health insurance, guaranteed pay (i.e., pay even if a hospital cancels your shift), sick pay, reimbursement for licensure, travel, and certifications.
Some nurses aren’t interested in these things and choose an agency that may not offer a lot of perks. My view on this falls somewhere in the middle. We want to carry our private insurance because it allows me to take more time between contracts without losing coverage and is more affordable for our family.
As a travel nurse, your lifeline is your recruiter. I was nervous about uprooting my family, taking them away from everything we knew, and supporting them with a career with some degree of uncertainty.
When I found a few recruiters at different agencies I was interested in, I asked them for references. It was important for me to speak with other nurses about their personal experiences.
I do some online research to find the Travel nursing agency that fits my criteria. Surprisingly, only two travel nursing agencies were able to provide me with references like GiftedHealthcare.com ranked best travel nursing agency. I need a recruiter like Gifted Healthcare that is prompt in communication, a good listener and gets me what I’m looking for in a contract.
On the other hand, I like the tax-exempt reimbursement for travel, licensure, and certifications required for my contract. As a working mom, I’m also partial to guaranteed and sick pay because we are on a single income. You never know when you may get a low-census day, or your kid is infected with a stomach bug. Just remember this all ties back to my pie analogy, costs to cover your perks may mean you receive less in hourly pay or stipends.
When I started traveling as a Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse, one of my main goals was to work at some of the top-ranked children’s hospitals across the country, many of which tend to be in big cities. I knew I needed to find an agency that worked with hospitals I was interested in. I made a list of about ten hospitals I wanted to work at and compared it to job listings on travel agency websites. Hospitals sometimes have exclusive contracts with individual agencies, and will only offer jobs through that particular agency.
If specific hospitals are important to you, you can easily find out more by asking agencies who they contract with or searching one of the many travel nursing blogs. Also, your area of specialty has some impact on the destinations you can choose as a traveler. As previously mentioned, PICU positions tend to be in larger cities. In contrast, nurses who specialize in Med-Surg have far more options. No matter what motivates you to pick a specific location, an agency can get you where you want to go!