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The 2021 Guide To Find The Best Travel Nursing Agencies

Nowadays, registered nurses can take advantage of the opportunity to work and travel on different opportunities in the U.S. and worldwide. This can be done through travel nursing, which allows you to work in different healthcare specialties and settings. Many registered nurses that are interested in finding appealing challenges and exploration opportunities become travel nurses.

To start working in this field, you will need to state your credentials, your prior experience, and your desired placement areas with the recruiters at a staffing agency. This information is crucial compared to the requirements of the conventional hospital system, as it lets you be placed wherever you desire. When you document your information, the recruiter considers everything and grants consideration to suitable special assignments.

Based on the availability of the desired assignments, you can be allowed to travel within your niche. However, there are some instances where your path might cross into different spaces, and consideration will be given based on your desire to travel. Additionally, you will be able to take up posts that you’re qualified for.

Non-specialized assignments are usually available within the surgical field, and these can be taken up by nurses that are qualified within another field. But some of these non-specialized assignments will pay considerably less than those requiring specialized skills or specific credentials. To gain access to these opportunities, registered nurses can apply through travel nursing agencies.

But to find the right agency, you want to look for those with a good reputation. Established agencies are usually better suited as they provide the best opportunities because they are legitimate. This post will learn everything you need to know when choosing the best travel nursing agencies. We’ll also share the best travel nursing agencies for 2021.

Figure out what you need before you start looking for a travel nursing company When looking for the best travel nursing company, you first need to know what your needs are.

The following are some of the questions you should consider asking yourself when finding an agency:

  • Will, you need health insurance? ·
  • Do you prefer finding your own housing, or would you want your employer to do it for you?
  • Do you want the company to contribute to your retirement?
  • What places are you looking to travel to?
  • How exactly do you plan on getting there?
  • Would you work per diem?
  • What to Look for When Choosing Travel Nursing Agencies?
  • Before you start looking into travel agencies, you should ensure that they at least have the basics covered – a housing stipend or free housing, a retirement plan, health, and dental insurance, 24-hour customer support, travel reimbursement, and plenty and abundant travel nursing jobs all around the country.

The following are a few tips about the basics:

Housing

It’s generally much easier to have the agency set up housing on your behalf.

This way, you will at least be sure that you get a safe, furnished place that’s already paid for and is close to where you’re working.

And in case you encounter any problems, all you need to do is contact the company, and it will be handled. Many nurses choose to take the housing stipend and find housing on their own instead.

The housing stipend you get will depend on the city you live in and tend to be a bit more than the amount of rent you end up paying.

This is a great way to make some extra cash tax-free. The main downside is that it will be harder to find short-term housing that’s furnished.

Plus, many landlords will require you to have a deposit, and if you need to extend the contract, you won't be certain that the house hasn’t been rented out to another person.

If you’re new to the city, it cannot be easy to establish which neighborhoods are safe.

Also, note that it could be difficult to find housing if you’re traveling with your pet. In many cases, travel nurse agencies usually make prior arrangements for housing that allow pets.

As a recommendation, if you intend to bounce from city to city, it’s best to utilize your agency for housing or stay with a person you know and take the stipend.

If you’re looking to stay in a new city and have familiarized yourself with its neighborhoods, it’s worth it to find your own housing.

Benefits

Most travel nurse agencies usually offer health and dental insurance.

And with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, it’s wise to research whether or not it’s cost-effective to opt for your agency’s healthcare plan or to buy one on your own through healthcare.org.

The key benefit of buying your own plan is that if you plan to switch from one agency to another, you won't have to change your insurance.

Several smaller travel nurse agencies will provide a healthcare stipend if you don’t take up their health insurance to enable you to buy one on your own.

And as far as retirement goes, you can open your own Roth IRA and not contribute to a 401(k) if you really don’t know how long you’re going to be traveling.

Some companies can contribute to your 401(k) from day 1, while others will have you wait for as long as a year.

Travel Reimbursements

As you consult with your potential travel nurse agency, ensure that you ask them about their reimbursements for travel.

Travel costs are the amount of money it typically takes to get from one assignment to the next or from your “tax home” to your assignment location. In many cases, this is negotiable, especially when there’s a huge need in one state that happens to be across the country.

The average reimbursement is about $500. The agencies will pay you half on your first paycheck and will disburse the other half once you complete the assignment.

You get the option to either drive or fly to your next destination.

Important Concerns and Question you Should Raise or Ask

Keep in mind that not all pay packages or benefits are created equal.

It’s important to find an agency that offers pay packages, benefits, and housing specific to your needs.

1. What destination the agency serves The whole point of travel nursing is traveling.

It’s therefore important to find an agency that serves the cities you want to travel to.

Some companies will claim they have contracts nationwide, but that may not be exactly the case.

If you have a specific city you want to explore or a specific hospital you’d like to travel to as it would look well on your resume, ensure that your potential agency has a contract at the location.

This is important, especially for those looking to travel to places like Alaska and Hawaii.

2. How does the agency break down its pay packages?

Does the agency pay a higher base rate with lower non-taxable travel reimbursement, or does it offer a lower base rate with higher non-taxable reimbursements?

Higher base rates are better when you plan to go with company housing or buying a home soon.

If you prefer finding your own housing, a higher housing stipend might be the best way to go in case of a lower base rate.

3. What housing options are available?

Most companies usually provide a one-bedroom furnished apartment for a period of 13 weeks.

This usually doesn’t include linen, dishes, a T.V., a washer, and dryer, or a vacuum cleaner.

For those that don’t like lugging their luggage along when traveling around or paying out-of-pocket for rent and these kinds of stuff, it may be wise to ask if the agency offers any of these necessities at no extra cost.

4. What kind of benefits do you get?

Most companies will provide health and dental benefits, along with a retirement package.

In case you consider these benefits important, then finding an agency that provides good benefits is essential.

However, you probably won't care much about these benefits for those who live on the edge with no health benefits.

In that case, ask the agency if they would be willing to pay a higher base rate for not taking the benefits.

5. What kinds of extra work-related costs do they reimburse you for?

Some examples of extra work-related costs include Certifications, bus passes, continuing education, licensing fees, required immunizations, and uniforms.

Some companies usually have a Continuing Education (CEU) database that’s free for all their employees.

This helps to cut costs in states that require a given number to acquire or maintain a license.

These extra costs could add up over time, and it’s nice to work with an agency that looks out for your pocketbook.

6. The agency’s canceled and missed shift policies

A missed shift refers to shifts where you called in sick, while a canceled shift is when they canceled for you for low census.

The hospital itself will mostly determine how the agency handles this, and the details will be included in your contract.

This is important because if you don’t work in travel nursing, you won’t get paid. In some cases, you might even have to reimburse the agency for housing costs. In many contracts, there are written clauses that allow you to “miss” a given number of shifts before you get penalized.

The contract may also outline the number of shifts that the hospital can cancel you for, which is usually once for each pay period. In such a case, the company won’t have you reimburse them for your housing costs.

Some other questions you might want to ask include: 

  • How much will health insurance cost you?
  • What will be the travel reimbursement amount?
  • How often will you get paid?
  • How soon can you start contributing to your 401K?
  • If you don’t opt for their health insurance, will they provide a healthcare stipend?
  • Will they provide a paid-time-off?
  • Do they give bonuses for extended assignments?
  • Do they have any bonuses available?
  • Can the company contract per diem work?

What Are the Top Travel Nurses Agencies?

The following is a list of some of the best travel nursing companies to consider: all of these offer basics like benefits, housing, travel reimbursement, 24-hour customer support, and staffing in all 50 states.

1. Triage

Triage Staffing is one of the best companies on the list as it offers a little bit of everything. The company specializes in helping nurses and other healthcare professionals to find 13-week assignments all across the U.S. The agency strives for transparency and building relationships that “are deeper than business transactions.”

Triage pays weekly via direct deposit. The pay comes as a benefits package that includes overtime, wage, per diems, bonuses, and a housing stipend. They provide health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield, and you also get vacation time, dental insurance, and a 401(k) plan.

2. RN Network

At RN Network, you can completely customize your pay and benefits package, though compensation will largely depend on your qualifications, geographical location, and gig details. Once employed, you will enjoy 401(k) contributions, travel reimbursement, referral bonuses, assignment completion bonuses, and generous overtime pay.

Additionally, the agency also offers day-one health, vision, and dental insurance, along with free continuing education courses, credentialing assistance, life insurance, and access to a 24/7 Teladoc telehealth platform for personal health needs.

As an RN Network Nurse, you can choose to use their housing concierge service or take a housing stipend to find living arrangements on your own.

3. trustaff

The company was established in 2002, and it provides thousands of jobs all around the country for different specialties. They also offer benefits starting at $23 a week, licensure reimbursement, and 24/7 clinical support.

Trustaff has often appeared among the top healthcare staffing lists for quite some time and for a good reason. They are a respected industry leader for 18 years and offer some of the best benefits available.

Trustaff also holds one of the highest retention rates of all agencies owing to their emphasis on creating lasting relationships with their nurses.

With Trustaff, you will benefit from having one of the highest salaries in the travel nursing industry, at about 2-% to 30% more than other agencies.

4. Aureus Medical Group

The Aureus Medical Group stands out as one of the best agencies for new nurses. This is thanks to their medical mentoring and student outreach programs.

The agency can pair students and new graduates with mentors and employment counselors who previously traveled to be well aware of the ins and outs of the career.

This goes a long way in easing the anxiety and stress of graduating nursing school, especially for those who want to get into travel nursing right off the bat.

Aureus offers opportunities in various specialties, from surgical and medical to the cath lab. The pay will depend on qualifications, location, and the experience needed for every position.

It’s worth noting that while Aureus generally receives favorable reviews, several Glassdoor and Indeed reviews report a lack of support and communication struggles from recruiters.

5. Aya Healthcare

This is one of the largest travel agencies in the country. It offers both temporary assignments and permanent placements with hard-to-beat benefits.

If you’re looking to specialize in crisis assignments, you will find a wide range of open jobs on Aya, and you can even see the pay ranges when you create an account online.

The agency provides everything you would need as a prospective travel nurse., including a housing stipend or pet-friendly company housing, life, medical, vision, and dental insurance, expedited licensure, 401(k) matches, and carefully matched assignments to suit your needs and goals.

6. Axis

Axis Medical Staffing was established in 2003 in Seattle, Washington. It touts several coveted benefits, such as immediate vesting with their company-matched 401(k) plan and payment of paid personalized housing with things like pet deposit costs being covered by the agency.

The company has amassed a great reputation for taking good care of its employees. It even provides a tool on its website that allows potential employees to interact with traveling nurses and ask questions about their experience.

This way, new employees can be certain that they will get the experience they are looking for before they start working for the agency.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, it is always up to the prospective travel nurse to choose whether to commit to an agency, contract, or travel assignment. Nonetheless, some flexibility can be useful in this niche, as assignments in a requested city or specific specialty might not always be available.

All in all, for an enjoyable travel nursing experience, it’s essential to find a travel nursing agency that suits your needs and work with a recruiter who puts your best interests at heart. Keep in mind that there’s extensive paperwork that needs to be completed to enter into the profession.

As such, making a good decision fast will mean less paperwork, and who wouldn’t appreciate less paperwork?

The best company for you is out there; we hope we’ve helped you in your journey to find them!

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Travelnursing.io works with the top travel nursing companies to help connect skilled nurses with the countries top healthcare assignments.

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