Your Perfect Match: Finding a Travel Nursing Agency That Fits
As far as this topic is concerned, the statement “One size fits all” does NOT hold true. In fact, finding the right travel nursing agency (and/or recruiter) will take a little effort on your part. Picking the right agency is like picking your best friend – not all personalities are compatible or make a perfect fit. It is up to you and you alone to seek out the best fit for you.
You will surely have many questions. Some are general and some are more specific to your unique professional and personal situation. Our experienced team of travel recruiters and staffing specialists at Advantage Medical Professionals also strives to answer any questions you may have, even if you haven’t officially signed up with us. Our Assistant Director of Nursing, Rachel Ferguson, has many resources and information about housing, tax information, mental health support, and more. Rachel and I can take the time to talk with you if you need any insight or advice from a clinical perspective. Beware of any agency that asks you more questions than provides answers. Not all healthcare staffing agencies are willing to share their information before pressuring you to give them all of yours. It’s important that you find the one that helps you feel informed and at peace with the next steps you decide to take in your travel nursing journey.
Before you take those next (or first) steps or start searching the world wide web for travel nursing agencies, you need to do some research and figure out exactly what you want – and what you don’t want. Sherril Dunning, RN, CEN, BSN offers sound advice on how to do this. Check out her article here.
After you have developed that list Sherrill talks about you are ready to start finding the perfect company. Ask yourself the following questions to help determine which travel nursing agency will fit you best:
- What size agency do you want to work with? There are benefits and drawbacks on both sides of this coin. Larger staffing agencies typically have the built-in benefit of larger healthcare networks, which typically means a larger variety of travel nursing opportunities. However, you may not get the one-on-one attention or help you need, especially if you are new to travel nursing. If you are looking for a more personal touch, you might consider one of the smaller, local companies. Another difference to consider is that a large company will have more automated processes and technology in place to get you through the credentialing process, submitting and signing documents, etc. On the flip side, the smaller agencies are more likely to make themselves available to help talk you through whatever stumbling block you run into. Again, find what works based on what is most important to you – is it modern technology or personal touch?
- What benefits will the agency provide? These days, most healthcare staffing agencies offer numerous health, dental, disability, or even retirement benefits. However, many of these benefits can cut into your actual pay rate. Be sure to clarify what benefit they offer and what benefit is based on the particular contract. Some of the common benefits include pay rate, agency-provided housing or stipends to cover housing/food expenses, medical insurance, retirement insurance, pet insurance, credentialing reimbursements, liability insurance, etc. Keep your written list handy. Know which items are deal breakers for you, and which ones are just “nice to have.” Remember, an agency is a business, and they also need to make money. As the old saying goes – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- What types of facilities do they work with? Every agency has agreements with different hospitals, clinics, & third-party staff management companies. If you dream of working at a particular facility, be sure your agency can submit your application to that facility. Beware of any agency that says they are its own vendor management system (VMS) and can work you everywhere. A VMS gets paid to provide staff to facilities with a restricted, limited pay scale. What that could mean for you is that they can get you the assignment, but your ability to negotiate the pay and benefits will be very limited. This also means the VMS is employed by the facility – their job is to find the best bottom line for the client. but you need someone working for you that prioritizes your best interest.
- In what states do they have assignments? Many states are passing new legislation that requires staffing agencies to be registered and/or licensed in that state. Just because an agency says they have opportunities across the country doesn’t confirm they are able to staff in all states. If you are determined to work in a specific state, make sure the agency you are considering can work in that state. You may also want to research the labor legislature for that state – it is becoming a more and more confusing environment every day. As a result, some agencies find they are no longer able to work in certain states they were able to in the past.
- How is their reputation? Before you sign up with a staffing agency, check out their reputation. Check out things like their Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Do they look like a company that is aligned with your values and communicates things that interest you? Talk with other nurses about the agencies they’ve worked with – you already know nurses aren’t shy about sharing their opinions on the good, the bad, and the ugly! Some agencies (including ours) even offer a referral bonus to both the new nurse and the referring nurse if you end up working a travel contract with them, so don’t be afraid to ask!
My final piece of advice on this is simple, but perhaps the most important – follow your gut feeling! Ask yourself, did you get a good feeling when you spoke with the potential recruiter, or did you come away from the interaction feeling uneasy or unheard? Don’t feel you need to settle for less than what you want (and deserve) in a travel nursing agency or recruiter just because you’re growing impatient or because your colleague referred you. Like any meaningful partnership, the dynamic between every nurse, travel recruiter, and travel nursing agency is unique – what works for one nurse may not work for another, and that’s okay.
If you are ready to get started or take the next step on your travel nursing adventure, our team at Advantage Medical Professionals has thousands of open local, travel, and Per Diem opportunities we’re excited to explore with you.
Director of Nursing Angela Totora, MBA/HA, CHP, RN