Travel Nurse Agency
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Top 5 Tips for Finding the Best Travel Nurse Agency for You

A travel nurse agency helps guide travel nurses through their careers as they move from one position to another across the country. To ensure you get the best jobs, pay, and benefits package at your desired locations, it’s essential to compare agencies to find one that works hard to get you everything you want. Travel nursing agencies are more than just go-betweens. A good agency has your best interests at heart. Whether you’re new to travel nursing or a travel nurse veteran, you should weigh several factors to find a reliable agency you can trust to support your travel nurse career endeavors.

Research the Agency’s Reputation

The very first thing you should do before comparing any aspects of travel nurse agencies is explore their reputations. Agencies with poor reviews and reputations of consistently letting down their travelers aren’t the types of agencies you want working with you. Reviewing reputations also provides a quick way to narrow your search to just the top options.

The Better Business Bureau may make a good starting point to find any complaints lodged against an agency and read reviews from other nurses who’ve used the agency. It’s also an excellent place to see how they handled negative feedback and whether the good feedback outweighed the bad. The drawback is that many staffing companies often have limited information on the BBB.

Platforms where you’re more likely to find numerous reviews from past and previous employees are sites like Indeed and Glassdoor. These platforms rate travel nurse agencies based on anonymous reviews, but they confirm that these reviews are from real people, not bots. Reviews from these types of platforms often offer a nice inside look at the pros and cons of working with an agency.

You can also look at travel nurse job boards. Because these boards are tied directly to the travel nursing niche, reviews are generally much more targeted than generic job boards. However, one drawback is that some of these sites won’t post negative reviews of clients that pay a fee or membership dues to be listed on their job boards.

You won’t have that problem on Vivian’s job board. Vivian posts all employer reviews, whether good or bad, for staffing agencies and healthcare facilities to provide greater insight to travel nurses and other medical professionals. You can even filter reviews to show agencies by job type and location, discipline and specialty supported, and benefits.

Ease of Onboarding

Working with numerous agencies often increases your negotiating power, making it highly beneficial to sign up with several at once. However, the onboarding process could give you pause. Travelers commonly cite paperwork as a nuisance that sometimes prompts them to not sign with a new agency.

Some agencies require travelers to complete all required paperwork before they’re willing to start talking to them about available positions. However, the vast majority of agencies don’t have this requirement. Instead, travelers don’t complete most of their paperwork until after securing a job. With this in mind, you can omit agencies that require all paperwork upfront.

Many agencies try to simplify the process and make completing paperwork as easy on the traveler as possible. Therefore, travel agency recruiters often accept your resume and input all your information into your job applications for you, saving you even more time and aggravation.

Even better, at Vivian Health, you can complete a single profile to open job opportunities with all the agencies featured on its site. Your free universal profile works across 100s of healthcare employers, so you don’t have a bunch of paperwork dumped on you just to explore your options.

Compare Travel Nursing Pay

Once you have a list of comparable agencies, another primary concern is pay packages. Weekly pay varies based on numerous factors, including hours worked, job location, overtime requirements, and your personal experience. The travel nurse agency should walk you through the pay rate you’re qualified for based on all these factors and any other factors used in their criteria.

When discussing pay packages, it’s crucial to discuss net pay, which is the total before taxes. Agencies provide tax-free reimbursements for housing and meals, called stipends, when you’re traveling for work away from your legal tax home. However, they may handle this in different ways. Some offer higher percentages of their pay packages as non-taxable money, while others offer lower percentages. You pocket more money when you have higher percentages of untaxed income. Vivian offers transparent nursing salary information to help with your travel nursing pay comparisons.

Weigh Other Benefits a Travel Nurse Agency Offers

Besides actual pay, many agencies also offer numerous benefits as additional perks. However, these benefits could cut into your pay rate. It’s important to clarify with your travel nursing agency recruiter how benefits work regarding pay packages. Also, some agencies don’t automatically deduct Social Security and income taxes from your check. Discussing this before taking an assignment is crucial, so you’re not hit with a big surprise later.

One vital benefit to discuss is housing. Some agencies offer company-provided accommodations, but some may not. Whether or not company-provided housing is an option, most agencies allow nurses to secure their own housing and pay them a housing stipend if they qualify. While it’s less stressful to let the agency book your accommodations, you have no control over where you’ll stay, and you could be leaving money on the table. While some agencies ensure you stay in safe, high-end housing, others put you in long-term budget hotels. If you’re letting them handle your housing, you better iron out these details ahead of time.

Other benefits you must discuss can impact your health and your bottom line. These include medical benefits, which may or may not include vision and dental coverage, and retirement accounts. Additional benefits like rental vehicles, paid vacation time, paid sick leave, and numerous other perks that vary by agency should all be hashed out before signing on the dotted line.

Learn Where You Can Go

For many travel nurses, location is a major concern after pay packages and benefits. You want to work with agencies with the most travel nursing destinations, especially if you have a list of locations already in mind. Agencies work with different hospitals with facilities in various locations around the nation. Agencies that work with larger health systems with numerous locations obviously have more destination options, but they may still be deficient in some areas. Most agencies will tell you they staff nationwide, but that doesn’t mean they regularly have openings everywhere.

Look closely at the agency’s job board to get a clear picture of the locations based on their current job openings. You can also contact the staffing offices of hospitals in areas you want to go to learn which agencies work with them. Another option is to search generic job boards in the locations you want to work to see which agencies advertise in those areas, meaning they probably regularly service those areas.

When searching for jobs on Vivian, you can filter your job searches to only include jobs in the state or an exact city where you want to work. The results showcase jobs from every agency on Vivian with openings in your desired location.

Make It Easier With Vivian

Vivian isn’t an agency, but we do help you find travel nursing jobs. We’re the largest marketplace for healthcare workplaces with access to unbiased, transparent information. You benefit from detailed job postings, solid salary ranges, authentic agency and healthcare company reviews and much more with one universal profile. 

Our platform features 1,000s of jobs in exciting locations around the country. With Vivian, you keep all your applications and messages in one place and get notified when new jobs match your needs. You can then connect with employers immediately through our real-time chat. We make it easier than ever to land your next job opportunity and get the most out of your career. Join Vivian’s growing community to get started right away.

Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee is Vivian’s Content Writer & Editor. As part of the Vivian Health team, she strives to help support the empowerment of nurses and other medical professionals in their pursuits to find top-notch travel, staff, per diem and local contract positions.

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