Becoming a travel nurse is a big decision that will affect not just your career but your lifestyle. You will constantly be moving from assignment to assignment and this kind of setup can sometimes throw surprises your way that you hadn’t anticipated.
While it’s impossible to prepare for every possible scenario and indeed there will be times when you’re going to just have to wing it, it’s important to start off on the right foot: choosing the right travel nursing company that has your interests in mind.
What’s Important for Travel Nurses?
Of course travel nurses have different needs. What’s important to Traveler A might not mean much to Traveler B. After all, nurses decide to travel for different reasons. So before you begin to look at staffing agencies you must first set your goals. Why have you decided to travel? Is it the higher pay? Do you want to see the country? Is it to gain experience and beef up your resume? Do you want to try out a new state before moving there permanently?
All of these are great reasons for wanting to become a travel nurse. But prioritizing and creating goals for yourself will help set up expectations when you start talking to a travel nursing company.
With so many recruitment agencies that specialize in travel nursing, it’s difficult to determine which one is the right fit. This is why you should ask pertinent questions when you talk to a recruiter.
Compensation and Benefits Package
Insurance is a hot topic among healthcare professionals so it’s important to ask questions about it.
What kind of medical coverage plan does the staffing firm have? And is it the same plan that the staffing firm provide their regular employees? Many travel nursing companies set up two different plans for internal employees and travel professionals. Is there a waiting period before the coverage is effective? Be sure also to ask whether you’re covered from the first day of employment as well as what, if any, charges you’ll be responsible for.
Typically, when you speak to recruiters, the subject of compensation and benefits will come up. Be sure to probe and ask for details such as: How will you get paid and the frequency of payment? Will you get paid weekly or biweekly? Does the company offer a match to your 401K? How much is it and is that match based on gross or net amount? What sort of loyalty programs does the company provide? How much would you get if you stayed on for two assignments? How about three or more?
Bonuses and Perks
Many established travel nursing companies offer sign-on and referral bonuses. If it’s not in their literature, be sure to ask about them. How much would you get to sign-on? What about referrals? Will you get the full amount right away or is there a waiting period?
Make sure also to ask questions about a company’s size. How many nurses does the travel nursing company manages and how many will be managed by your recruiter. Will the recruiter have time to take care of you?
Once you finished asking your questions, weigh all the answers based on your list of priorities and see which staffing firm comes closest to your ideal scenario. Fact-check online when it comes to compensation nationally to see if the travel nursing company you’re considering is offering competitive rates. Now you’re ready to make a decision. Remember to choose wisely and your travel nurse experience will meet most—if not all—your expectations.