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Travel Nurse Taxes: The Difference Between W-2 and 1099

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Tax season for a travel nurse can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.

Travel nurses lead an adventurous lifestyle — they get to travel across the country and meet new people while growing their medical skills. For some travel nurses, there’s just one downside: tax season. Fortunately, you can easily avoid that gloom-and-doom feeling during tax time with a few helpful tips.

We talked to the tax experts over at GBE and here’s what they want you to know. First and foremost, you need to understand the difference between being a W-2 employee and a 1099 contractor because the two groups are taxed very differently by the IRS.

What does it mean to be a W-2 employee?

Most healthcare staffing companies classify their travelers as W-2 employees. For travel nurses, this means you can enjoy applicable group benefits, such as a 401(k), health insurance, disability insurance, and life insurance. Additionally, your employer will deduct various state and federal taxes from your paycheck and directly send these taxes to the IRS on your behalf. As a W-2 employee, you’ll find your tax return will be fairly straightforward because you’ve been paying these taxes all year long.

So, what’s a 1099 contractor?

Then, there’s the 1099 contractor, which is an IRS classification primarily used for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. As a 1099 contractor, you can claim several tax deductions that W-2 employees cannot. To do so, however, you must track all your job-related expenses and income throughout the year. While the responsibility to report and pay your taxes falls on you, you could also reap the rewards in the form of a large refund check come spring.

Regardless of how you’re classified, you should also keep in mind the following tax essentials:

  • Keep a copy of all your travel contracts: Your contracts prove where you worked and for how long.
  • Prepare for tax season early: It’s easy to put off your taxes and record-keeping until the final deadline. However, try your best to stay ahead throughout the year to avoid unnecessary stress at tax time.
  • Retain all tax-related documents for at least seven years: When you do, you’ll be able to quickly prepare future or amended tax returns to the IRS.
  • Consider finding a tax expert to help you: Filing your taxes can be a difficult process to manage even when you aren’t constantly on the road for your job. A tax expert can ensure your tax return is done correctly and on time.
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Clinical Corner: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Performance Evaluations

By Melissa Nguyen, Medical Solutions Clinical Nurse Manager

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Here’s everything you need to know about performance reviews so you can come out on top!

Performance evaluations. As a traveler, you don’t have to worry about them anymore, right? Wrong! As a Clinical Nurse Manager to travel nurses, the majority of nurses I speak to are not aware of how frequently performance evaluations are given and how they can potentially impact their travel career. On average, nurses who work in permanent positions are given evaluations on a yearly basis. In contrast, travel nurses are evaluated after every assignment, which could mean up to four evaluations a year! So what do performance evaluations really mean to you and your travel career?

Performance evaluations give us feedback on how you represent Medical Solutions. There are 10 elements supervisors are asked to evaluate you on:

Adaptability (How quickly did you adapt to the assignment.)

Communication skills with your peers and managers

Communication skills with patients and families

Dependable/Punctuality (This is the number 1 reason travelers receive poor evaluations or ‘DNR’ evaluations)

Documentation

Assessment skills

Can you identify, develop and implement care plans?

Overall clinical skills

Overall job performance

Would they hire you again?

Poor performance evaluations or DNR (Do Not Rehire) evaluations could impact you long after that assignment. 

A DNR evaluation for some facilities will make you a DNR for their entire healthcare system. For example, you received a DNR evaluation from St. Mary Hospital, which is part of the XYZ Healthcare System. Now, you are not only a ‘Do Not Rehire’ for St. Mary Hospital, but you could also be a ‘Do Not Rehire’ for ALL XYZ hospitals.

A DNR evaluation may make you a ‘Do Not Rehire’ for Medical Solutions or put you on ‘Caution’ status.  Being placed on ‘Caution’ status means there have been issues with your performance and too many issues during future assignments will eventually lead to becoming a ‘Do Not Rehire’ for Medical Solutions.  A ‘Do Not Rehire’ with Medical Solutions means you will no longer be able to travel with the company.

On the other hand, you can be rewarded for outstanding evaluations. There are several awards that Medical Solutions offers for travelers who have exceptional evaluations.  Those include:

Traveler of the Month: You must receive a ‘Perfect Evaluation,’ where every element on the evaluation form receives the highest possible rating. One traveler will be chosen each month and will receive a $100 Visa or Amazon Card.

Rising Star of the Month: You must receive a ‘Perfect Evaluation’ AND be a first-time traveler.  One traveler will be chosen each month and receive a $50 Visa or Amazon Card.

If you are having issues or concerns while you are on assignment, you also have resources available to assist you.  For non-clinical concerns (for example, you are having issues with bullying behavior from other staff), it is imperative to notify your recruiter. For clinical concerns, there are Clinical Nurse Managers on staff who will help guide and advocate for you. If you find yourself concerned with something clinical in nature, notify your recruiter and they will have a Clinical Nurse Manager from Medical Solutions call you as soon as possible.

Staying on top of issues as they arise will prevent future issues that lead to poor evaluations. Here at Medical Solutions, we pride ourselves on advocating and supporting our travelers, so please reach out should you need any assistance while on assignment.  

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How Employee Appreciation Pays Off

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Meaningful employee recognition can lead to other positive outcomes.

When was the last time you said “thank you” to one of your nurses? These two simple words can have a lasting impact on your staff, which in turn, can trickle down to your facility’s patients. If your facility’s recognition program is a bit lackluster, you’ll need to take action and show your nurses you care. Here’s why employee appreciation is important: 

It affects patient care outcomes:

There’s plenty of evidence that supports the idea that happy nurses equal healthier patients. According to the American Nurses Association’s National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators, a 25 percent increase in nurse job enjoyment over a two-year span was linked with an overall quality of care increase between 5 and 20 percent. Conversely, a National Institute of Nursing Research study found that as the proportion of nurses working shifts of more than 13 hours increased, patients’ dissatisfaction with care increased. While these results aren’t necessarily surprising, they do highlight the need for employers to invest in their healthcare professionals.

It increases staff morale:

According to a Gallup study, only one in three U.S. workers strongly agrees that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days. That’s a problem because little to no recognition can cause staff morale to suffer. After all, your nurses went into healthcare to make a difference, and they deserve to be rewarded and recognized for their work. Additionally, meaningful employee recognition can often act as a morale booster and reinforce your facility’s positive workplace culture.

It boosts retention and recruitment efforts:

When your nurses are engaged at work, they’re less likely to leave, and that means higher retention rates. Likewise, these happy nurses are much more likely to encourage those in their professional network to apply for your facility’s open positions. This word-of-mouth can be a powerful recruitment tool and help you quickly find the experienced clinicians you need.

Acknowledging your top nurses’ work will make them feel valued and appreciated. In turn, this recognition can lead to other positive workplace outcomes.

What do you do to show your staff you appreciate them? Let us know in the comments below!

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State Spotlight: New Mexico

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Check out the brilliant red rock formations in northern New Mexico on your next assignment!

If traveling more was one of your New Year’s resolutions, then you’re in luck! This month’s State Spotlight takes us to notable New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment is known for its scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage. Read on to learn why New Mexico should be on your list for your next travel assignment!

Travel Nursing in New Mexico

Travel nurses have lots of opportunities to work and play in this beautiful Southwestern state. New Mexico is home to about 54 hospitals, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019/2020 Best Hospitals list. That includes the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is rated “High Performing” in four adult procedures/conditions. Other top hospitals in New Mexico include Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Hospital in Acoma and Advanced Care Hospital of Southern New Mexico Medical Center in Las Cruces. Plus, the best places to live in New Mexico are Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Las Cruces, according to Livability.com.

As for licensures, New Mexico is not a walk-through state; however, it is a compact and NURSYS state.

New Mexico Fast Facts

State Nickname: “Land of Enchantment”

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Capital: Santa Fe

Largest City: Albuquerque

National Parks: 3

National Forests: 7

State Parks: 32

State Motto: Crescit eundo (It grows as it goes)

State Flower: Yucca

State Tree: Piñon

State Animal: Black Bear

State Song: “O Fair New Mexico”

In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state to join the Union.

At 7,199 feet above sea level, Santa Fe is the highest state capital in the nation.

New Mexico has more PhDs per capita than any other state.

More than one-third of the land in New Mexico is protected by the federal government.

On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb exploded in the Jornada del Muerto desert in south-central New Mexico.

Roswell, New Mexico is famous as the site of an alleged 1947 UFO crash.

It is illegal in New Mexico to dance while wearing a sombrero.

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Colorful hot air balloons soar above Albuquerque every year during the International Balloon Fiesta.

New Mexico is home to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world.

Famous people from New Mexico include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Hilton hotel owner Conrad Hilton, actress Demi Moore, actor Val Kilmer, actor Neil Patrick Harris, singer/actress Demi Lovato, singer/songwriter John Denver, animator William Hanna, and artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

To Do & See in New Mexico

With plenty of picturesque views, it’s no wonder New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment.” Plus, the state is known for its comfortable weather and minimal rainfall, which means instant success for any outdoorsy excursions. Spend a day exploring the famous Glia Cliff Dwellings, once the home of the Tularosa Mogollon families. Other must-see spots include visiting the impressive Carlsbad Caverns and admiring the gorgeous views at White Sands National Park.

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Santa Fe is known for its art galleries, southwestern food, and scenic beauty.

For big-city adventures, look no further than Santa Fe. As the country’s third-largest art market, this gem of a city has been a favorite among art lovers for years. It’s also recently been recognized as one of the top travel destinations for 2020 by Conde Nast Traveler, and it’s easy to see why. You can relax and unwind in one of Santa Fe’s many celebrated spas, ski or hike around the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains, browse among the shops in the Santa Fe Plaza, or enjoy the sights and sounds at the world-renowned Santa Fe Opera House.

Plus, don’t forget to sample some of the state’s authentic Southwestern cuisine. The chile pepper is king here, so if you want to eat like a local, try the famous green chile cheeseburger, a bowl of posole, or a plate of red chile pork tamales.

Ready for your adventure to novel New Mexico?! Search jobs now to find your dream Travel Nurse job in New Mexico! Or, search all jobs here.

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Congrats to November 2019’s Traveler of the Month and Rising Star!

Many thanks and congrats to the November 2019 Traveler of the Month, Dana B., and also our Rising Star winner, Cheyenne M.!

Traveler of the Month Dana, who is an OR technician, is currently on assignment in New York. Dana has been traveling with Medical Solutions for about two years now, and her award comes as no surprise to her recruiter Tom Huber.

“She has a great work ethic,” says Tom. “She is always willing to help, and every hospital she has been to absolutely loves her.”

Thanks for being such a great traveler, Dana!

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Rising Star of the Month for November 2019 Cheyenne M. and her husband.

Rising Star Cheyenne is an ER nurse and she works with Career Consultant Tyler Nieland. The Gracemont, Oklahoma native is currently on assignment in sunny Puerto Rico. Cheyenne has been a nurse for four years, with about one and a half years of travel nursing under her belt.

“My favorite part about traveling is that I get to be exposed to brilliant nurses from across the nation, learn new skills, and see different management styles,” says Cheyenne. “I have grown so much as a nurse because of traveling.”

And while she loves to explore her current island location with her husband and her dog, Dally, her first assignment in Charlotte, North Carolina still stands out.

“We were able to see so many new sights between the mountains and beach,” recalls Cheyenne. “What a variety!”

Her advice to new and aspiring travel nurses is direct.

“Be humble, patient, and always look for something new to learn,” recommends Cheyenne.

Congratulations again to the Medical Solutions November 2019 Traveler of the Month and Rising Star. Dana and Cheyenne, we are so thankful to each of you for your awesome work!

Could you be the next Medical Solutions Traveler of the Month or Rising Star? Travelers who receive a perfect hospital evaluation are eligible to win these monthly awards — with Rising Star going to newer Medical Solutions Travelers. Click here to learn more and to see if you could be the next winner of a $100 Visa or Amazon gift card as recognition for a job well done!

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How to Reduce Your Time to Hire

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Keep these strategies in mind if you want to speed up your facility’s hiring process.

Did you know that the average time to hire in healthcare is roughly 48.3 working days? Thanks to healthcare reform and workforce shortages, finding quality, post-acute clinicians quickly can be challenging. To stay competitive in this constantly changing landscape, healthcare facilities need to revisit their hiring practices. Consider the following four strategies to help you reduce your time to hire.

  • Start with a detailed job description: A vaguely-worded job posting makes your facility look unprofessional. At best, you’ll receive candidates who simply aren’t qualified for the position. Words matter. A detailed job description clearly communicates to prospective candidates the job’s responsibilities and requirements. Great job descriptions also help both facilities and clinicians save valuable time in the hiring process.
  • Keep the candidate experience in mind: How quickly can someone apply for a job on your website? Making candidates jump through hoops to apply slows down the hiring process and makes a bad first impression. No one wants that. Instead, keep your application process simple and ensure your website is mobile-friendly. When you do, you’ll reap the rewards. In fact, employers who invested in a strong candidate experience improved their quality of hires by 70%, according to a recent study conducted by the Brandon Hall Group.
  • Don’t forget about employee referrals: Your current employees might know someone who has the ideal skills to fill your open position. You can tap into this network to quickly find qualified candidates. Plus, if you offer a referral bonus, you can help keep your current staff engaged at your facility. It’s a win-win for everybody. You gain a new, experienced employee and decrease your facility’s time-to-hire rate, while your employees feel valued and heard.
  • Team up with an experienced staffing partner: Medical Solutions has become an integral part of the hiring process for both healthcare facilities and contingent clinicians nationwide. That’s because our team of recruiting experts take the time to learn your facility’s requirements and quickly find the ideal healthcare professionals for your open positions. Whether you require interim, temp-to-hire or direct placement leadership employees, our professionals make sure you get exactly who you’re looking for.

Recruiting speed is vital in today’s economy. To attract and retain the best talent in the healthcare industry, you need to act quickly. Contact Medical Solutions today to see how we can help you accelerate your hiring process.

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Calling All Travel Nurses: Medical Solutions and SeriousFun Camps Want You!

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Want to get paid to go to summer camp?

It’s true, you can go back to summer camp and get paid! That’s because Medical Solutions is currently looking for experienced ER and pediatric travel nurses to help out at several SeriousFun Children’s Network camps for the 2020 summer sessions.

A non-profit organization founded by Paul Newman, SeriousFun provides summer camp experiences and programs for kids living with serious illnesses and their families around the world. At camp, being a patient takes a back seat to being a kid. Campers can try new activities, have fun, and make new friends. The results are truly priceless — these kids gain more self-confidence and return home with memories that last a lifetime.

Even better, the camps are free of charge, thanks in large part to the support of a variety of institutional partners, an outstanding staff, an army of volunteers, and generous donors. Medical Solutions has been a longtime supporter of SeriousFun, and this year, we are excited to expand our partnership to include the following camps:

Roundup River Ranch, Gypsum, Colorado

The Painted Turtle, Lake Hughes, California

Camp Boggy Creek, Eustis, Florida

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Ashford, Connecticut

Flying Horse Farms, Mt. Gilead, Ohio

Victory Junction, Randleman, North Carolina

This amazing assignment runs from early May through the end of August and includes free food and housing. If you are interested in being a part of this camp experience, please fill out this form.

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4 Ways to Boost Your Travel Nurse Resume

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Great resumes tell a story. What does your resume say about you?

First impressions are everything when it comes to the travel nurse job hunt. And like it or not, your resume is a hiring manager’s first impression of you. So, how can you take your travel nurse resume to the next level? Consider the following four ways you can boost your resume and stand out from the crowd: 

Find the right template for you: A quick Google search will show you there are countless resume templates out there. So, that begs the question, which one is the best fit for you? Luckily, there is no right or wrong answer here. Just make sure the format of your resume is clean, well-structured, and detailed. Bonus tip: Most hiring managers skim resumes, so make sure yours is easy to read. 

Modify your resume to the job: In this digital age of SEO and algorithms, you should tailor your resume to the job for which you are applying. Remember to strategically sprinkle a few keywords throughout your resume. If you are unsure which keywords to use, let the job description be your guide.

Use action verbs to highlight your skills: At its most basic, a resume is simply a summary of your professional skills and experience, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. Instead, your resume should tell your story and showcase your personality. Fortunately, action verbs can help you do just that and make your resume shine. Need a little inspiration? Here’s a great list of action verbs for you.

Proofread, proofread, proofread: You need grammar mistakes on your resume like you need a HIPPA violation. These preventable errors make you look sloppy — and could be the reason you aren’t getting your dream job. Avoid potential grammar gaffes and ask someone to review your resume before you hit send.

What other resume-building tips have you learned while travel nursing? Let us know in the comments below!

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Clinical Corner: Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Laura Friend, RN, BSN, Clinical Nurse Manager

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Beat the winter blues with these great tips!

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the color changes of the trees, cool nights, football games, and knowing the holidays are fast approaching. While it’s my favorite season, I always know what’s right around the corner. It starts right after the hustle of the holidays and lasts through the first few weeks of March. Growing up, I thought it was just the “winter blues” because I couldn’t spend my time outside like I preferred, but I now believe I suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Symptoms of SAD typically begin in the late fall and begin to ease in the spring. Symptoms can range from feeling tired or having low energy to feeling depressed and hopeless or even having thoughts of suicide. Others report increased appetite, low libido, agitation, and difficulty concentrating.

For me, I feel a lack of energy – I do not want to see friends and I tend to make poor nutrition choices. My seasonal affective disorder was at its worst when I worked night shift; I drove to work in the dark, was awake all night in the dark, drove home before the sun was up, and slept during the limited sunlight. It got a little better when I changed to the day shift, but I was still working in the CVOR with no windows. This will be my first winter working where I will have access to windows, natural light and normal sleeping hours and I am anxious to see how that affects my mental and emotional health this year.

Causes of SAD can include decreased melatonin, which helps regulate sleep patterns and mood. Decreased serotonin levels due to reduced sunlight can also affect and exacerbate SAD symptoms. I personally feel the shorter days and increased darkness makes me feel less energized to do anything, and that triggers a cycle of loneliness, laziness, and further decreased my energy.

Fortunately, there are many different kinds of treatments available. Phototherapy, or light therapy, uses a special light that mimics the sun to help offset the effects of less natural sunlight. These lights are available without a prescription. Some doctors may prescribe antidepressant medications to help balance the decreased levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Counseling, exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep habits, getting outside, and socializing with friends may also help.

If you suffer from SAD, please know you are NOT alone. Medical Solutions can help by offering you a change of scenery, giving you exciting, new adventures, or placing you someplace warm and sunny during those long, cold winter months.

Ready to beat the winter blues with a new travel nursing job? Search for your new job today!

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Medical Solutions Traveler Becomes a Published Author

Never underestimate the power of the pen and yourself. At least, that’s what Medical Solutions Traveler and author Rachel F. would tell you.

That’s because Rachel recently published her first book. Part memoir and part self-help book, “The Power of Yourself” inspires others to live life to the fullest.

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Rachel’s book “The Power of Yourself” is now available online.

“I want others to know the great power that lies within themselves,” says Rachel.

Rachel, who is a traveling respiratory therapist by day, has always wanted to help people. Then, during a difficult time in her life, she began writing as a way to cope. Ultimately, this journey of self-discovery and faith led Rachel to write her book. 

“When I decided to let go of all that pain and hurt that I went through, with God, I became stronger and stronger every day,” recalls Rachel. “[I realized] I wanted to help encourage and motivate people to never give up no matter what.”

With 12 years of clinical experience under her belt, Rachel also knows first-hand how valuable each life is.

“Every day is a gift,” says Rachel. “In this profession, God allows me to see the beauty of things as well as the difficulty of things.”

And while “The Power of Yourself” is now available online, Rachel doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. She is currently on assignment with Medical Solutions in California, works with Career Consultant Jennifer Stewart, and plans to write another book soon.

Congratulations, Rachel on this amazing achievement! We are so excited to see where your career — both as a writer and traveling healthcare professional — will take you!