Travel nurses sometimes ‘travel’ not far from home. Some nurses work as ‘local agency’ nurses, and this can mean a few different things. Both pay well and usually offer a variety of work settings. Local agency nurses usually work full time, but there may be some that work per diem within a specific healthcare system.
Local Agency Nursing for Healthcare Systems
The first type of ‘local agency’ are nurses that are hired by an agency that is owned by a healthcare system. A good example of this is the Memorial Hermann-owned float pool agency in Houston, Texas. Another example is the relationship between HealthTrust Workforce Solutions and HCA hospitals. In locations where there are numerous HCA hospitals, HealthTrust usually operates a ‘local float pool’ that they source out to the surrounding facilities. These huge hospital systems have sub-agencies that help fill their staffing holes, and allows them to float nurses between facilities in one given area. It can help decrease the need for outside travel nurses and offers staff a chance for different experiences.
Nurses that do this type of local agency nursing often have a permanent residence in the area. The pay is better than local permanent staff pay, because the nurses are being compensated for floating between facilities. They are usually told at least a day in advance where they may be going, but some systems do not let the nurses know until morning of. Some local agencies offer ‘local contracts’- and allow these nurses to contract at one of the close hospitals for weeks or months at a time. But. they are not on a signed contract with the agency itself only with a specific facility. This type of employment is considered permanent, but as an ‘agency nurse’ or ‘registry nurse’.
What is a ‘Local Travel Nurse Contract’
Another type of ‘local agency’ nursing is in the form of taking a contract, but as a local traveler and receiving a fully-taxed wage. Travel nurses usually receive tax-free stipends to cover housing, meals and incidental expenses. The nurse is only entitled to those stipends if they can claim a ‘permanent tax residence’ a specified distance (usually over 50 miles) from the facility where they are working. ‘Local agency travelers’ often live in the same location as the facility, or close by, therefore preventing them from getting the tax-free stipends.
Can I Work as a ‘Local’ Travel Nurse?
You can still work as a traveler and tell the recruiter you know you will not be eligible for the stipends and you want the job. Your hourly rate should stay the SAME. The pay is usually told to travel nurses as a ‘blended rate’- meaning how much you make per hour including any taxable income plus the stipends. That hourly rate should be the same as a local traveler, but the local travel nurse will take home less ‘net’ (after taxes) pay, because all of their wages will be taxed. This would be the same scenario as if a nurse took travel contracts all over the country, but had no permanent tax home. Most of the time, this is still better than the fully taxed wages that staff nurses are making.
If this confuses you, read our travel nurse pay breakdown article for more information!
Whether you work as an agency nurse within a healthcare system, or a ‘local traveler’ it’s a great way to get your feet wet in travel nursing!