There is NO Wrong Way to Travel Nurse
If you set aside tax implications and laws, which everyone should consult their own tax professional for, there is no wrong way to do travel nursing or healthcare. If you listen to all the groups on social media, it would seem no one is though. Every one does it a little different. For instance:
1. A recruiter and agency can be worth their weight in gold. If you choose the right fit for yourself, you should have a great experience as a traveler.
2. To find that fit, do your research. For me, I have my own insurance, so I do not need one that offers day 1 insurance. You may very well. Figure out what you need in an agency, find companies that fit your needs, and have a couple that you can work with.
3. Asking in Facebook groups does not give you the best answers. Did you know that some people in the groups are not in healthcare? Some that are in healthcare are staff nurses; some are ex-travelers (some who have not traveled in years); some are newbies; but most are strangers to you.
4. If you are happy with the pay package, FB will not help you. If a contract for $1600 pays your bills and lets you live the life you want, go for it! Nurses in southern Illinois make $17/hr, while nurses in other states make double or even triple that. One contract is not suitable to everyone’s needs. Only you know your personal financial situation.
5. There are companies out there that agencies pay to have another avenue for business. Some pair you with their selected recruiters, some have multiple companies and their jobs posted, for you to browse. All agencies have a marketing budget. These avenues, if implemented, come from that budget.
6. There are agencies out there that have bad reputations. To these agencies you are just another contract; a way to make as much money as possible. You often are under appreciated, underpaid, and really just a commodity. If you do not feel like you would be helped in an unsafe situation at work, it’s probably best not to work with them.
7. Conversely, there are many great agencies out there. They understand without their travelers, they would not have a business. You will feel appreciated. You pay will most likely be more suitable to your needs as they tend to listen more to what you want. They will have your back in a bad situation, and stand up for you.
8. Every agency will have some people who had a bad experience. If they have hundreds, it is probably best to stay away. If they have that exclusive contract you’ve been dreaming of, however, you may have to suck it up if you really want it. But make sure its worth it for you.
9. There are some companies that do not have recruiters. They have people who do not get paid on commission that do similar jobs, and that may be a good fit for you as well.
10. There is a ton of resources available to you. Books, online articles, videos, and even a school where you can gather info. Some are free while others charge a fee. No one can tell you how you learn; do what it best for you.
11. If you get a gift from an agency, the money to pay for that either came from that budget of the pocket of the recruiter. Just like staff, not everyone gets something. Be grateful. It does not come out of your bill rate.
12. There is NO 50-mile IRS rule, but agencies and hospitals may implement one. There is a local travel option, where you make a flat hourly rate with no tax-free stipends. Some agencies simply decide not to offer these. If you feel these contracts are best for you, do them. Don’t let anyone let you feel that you are not a real or true traveler because of it.
13. Attend one (or both) of the traveler conferences. There may be topics there that interest you. At minimum, you will get to meet many of the agencies in person, meet up with other travelers, and enjoy the town (and a drink or two from the agencies). You can win amazing prizes and have a great time overall.
14. Don’t be afraid to settle down if you find the right fit for you personally or professionally. Traveling is amazing, and many get the travel bug again, but do not let an amazing opportunity pass you by. Traveling will always be there if your situation changes.
15. There are many traveling healthcare groups available. Join one, all, none, it doesn’t matter. You know yourself, and what you like. There are some groups for different aspects of travel healthcare. Join what you like. Find what fits you.