Author Archive for Elena Barker

Elena Barker is a professional writer for Medical Solutions, one of the nation's largest travel nurse staffing companies. Elena specializes in writing about the healthcare staffing industry.

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MSP vs. VMS: What’s the Difference?

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Both workforce solutions have their benefits. The right one for your facility depends on your staffing needs.

Both vendor management systems (VMS) and managed service providers (MSP) offer hospitals efficiency improvements in contingency staff management, but which one is best?

If your healthcare facility is currently considering a VMS or an MSP, we’ve created the below guide to help you determine which model is right for you:

So, what is a VMS?

A vendor management system (VMS) is a technology solution that provides a web-based application to help hospitals obtain and manage their contingency staff.  Since a VMS does not recruit candidates, it is considered vendor-neutral. Consequently, hospital administrators evaluate candidates on their own. This DIY model could be an asset to hospitals that do not have hard-to-fill vacancies or require direct communication from a staffing agency.

A VMS offers several benefits, including:

  • Order distribution
  • Consolidated billing
  • Detailed reporting capabilities

A VMS tends to be most effective when the supply of candidates outnumbers open jobs. Today, competition for quality candidates is increasing while the supply of labor is shrinking. Consequently, staffing challenges are more complex.

What’s an MSP?

In contrast, a managed service provider, (MSP) is a service solution that helps source and manage the short-term staffing needs of a facility through one central business partner. The MSP model can be a cost-effective tool for hospitals facing severe staffing shortages, fluctuations in its staffing needs, or an EMR/EHR conversion.

An MSP can help your facility:

  • Recruit and onboard quality candidates
  • Improve fill, completion and extension rates
  • Consolidate contracts into one master agreement
  • Eliminate inflated bill rates
  • Streamline and simplify inefficient workforce processes
  • Increase vendor visibility
  • Reduce staff turnover and overtime hours
  • Leverage data to drive the planning process

Many MSPs have developed their own in-house technology platforms or have even partnered with a VMS to create a “one-stop shopping” experience for their hospital partners. Many healthcare staffing experts agree that the MSP model is the wave of the future.

Which side of the VMS/MSP debate are you on? For more information, visit Medical Solutions Plus today.

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Emergency Response Staffing Program

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Care can’t wait

Today’s world moves fast, and when you’re in the business of caring for people, time is everything. Our emergency response program is set up for speed because we know when you need clinicians, you need them now. Medical Solutions can quickly deploy experienced travel nurses and other healthcare professionals to your facility during an unforeseen crisis, like a flu outbreak. Plus, we’ll help your facility meet this increased demand for short-term staff in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

To learn more about our emergency response staffing program, please contact us today at 866.633.3548.

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Interim Nurse Leadership Search Services

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Connecting you to the industry’s top interim nurse leaders.

At Medical Solutions, we know that your post-acute facility’s daily business operations don’t stop while you’re searching for your next healthcare leader. That’s why we provide interim nurse leadership search services. With our experienced team of recruiters, we can deliver the right interim leader who will support your organization’s culture and goals.   

We conduct searches for a wide variety of leadership positions in long-term care, including:  

·       Clinical Leadership   

·       Clinical Reimbursement Leaders   

·       Directors of Nursing (DON)  

·       Assistant Directors of Nursing (ADON)  

·       Clinical Consultants  

·       Registered Nurse Assessment Coordinators (RNAC) and MDS Coordinators  

·       Nursing Home Administrators (NHA) and Executive Directors (ED)  

To learn more about our interim leadership program, please contact us today at 866.633.3548.

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Five Nurse Leadership Tips During a Crisis

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Leading your healthcare team during a crisis requires empathy, emotional understanding, and validation.

In the war against COVID-19, nurse leaders are facing daily challenges like never before. Even as you heroically care for your patients, the safety and emotional wellbeing of your team are understandably one of your many concerns. With that in mind, here are a few tips for how you can help take care of your frontline staff during a crisis:

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst: If your facility is not currently in a hotspot, you and your team can prepare for the unexpected. Now is the time to create your plan to mitigate whatever situation may arise, such as a lack of equipment, a surge in census, or several team members falling ill at once.

Communicate: Timely and accurate information is essential in any kind of crisis. That’s why you should consider holding pre-shift and post-shift huddles. Along with the critical information you need to pass on to your team, you can also use this time to speak a few words of encouragement and support.

Get everyone on board: Every team is different, but there’s usually someone who tries to take on too much. Other times, a team member may only do what he or she is asked to do or may even not know how they can help. As a nurse leader, you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your individual team members and act accordingly. Relieve your overachievers when possible, encourage everyone to unite for the fight, and assign tasks to the people who aren’t sure how they can contribute.

Take breaks when possible: Long hours, stress, and fatigue take a toll on everyone, and a 12-hour shift can be grueling even during normal operations. That’s why you should incorporate rest cycles, team rotations, and half-days into your staffing schedules during a crisis. While this might be difficult to achieve, it’s still important that you and your team are allowed to take the time to recharge. When you do, you can more easily avoid mistakes and burnout.

Appreciate your team: In the days and weeks ahead, you and your team will be going into a tough fight, and there will be trauma. You’ll need to handle these situations with compassion, emotional intelligence, and validation. Praise your team members whenever you can, help turn any mistakes into learning opportunities, and try to create some good memories for your team. In all this uncertainty, it’s easy to forget that Nurses Week (May 6 – 12) is coming up soon. Fortunately, there’s no better time to celebrate your team and recognize their amazing efforts.

While these tips are likely just a quick reminder for most nurse leaders, we want you to know that Medical Solutions is here to support you and your team now and in the future. If you need help finding temporary staff or just want to talk with someone, please contact us. Thank you for caring for our communities, and good luck!

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What is a Healthcare MSP?

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Using the services of a healthcare managed service provider can make staffing one less thing you need to worry about.

As COVID-19 continues to impact the world, healthcare leaders face significant staffing challenges. In response, U.S. hospitals may want to consider using the services of a managed service provider program or MSP. An MSP can help your facility recruit experienced clinical talent and simplify your workforce processes with just one point of contact and one invoice.

At Medical Solutions, our managed services program can help meet your facility’s staffing needs so you’re best able to serve your patients and your community. As you know, when you’re in the business of caring for people, time is everything. Our team is set up for speed because we know when you need caregivers, you need them now.

Is it time for you to partner with an MSP?

Still unsure if your facility is ready for an MSP partner? Then you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you know how many contingent employees are on the floor right now?
  • Do you know how many and what types of staffing resources you need at your facility?
  • Are you confident your entire contingent workforce is compliant with all regulatory standards?
  • How much time do you spend managing your facility’s temporary workforce?

If you answered “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, we would love to start a conversation with you. In the meantime, simply watch our video and learn how our service-based MSP can help your facility during this critical time.

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5 Things You Need to Do to Become a Travel Nurse

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Learn the 5 things you need to do to become a travel nurse and get on your new career path now!

By Kerrey Brennan

Being a nurse is one of the noblest and rewarding jobs one can pursue. And becoming a travel nurse means you get to follow your passion to help others while also traveling and experiencing different cities and states across the nation. The demand for travel nurses is higher than ever. But the big question is, where do you start?

In this blog, we’ll discuss what you need to do to become a travel nurse — everything from getting your nursing degree to choosing the perfect travel nurse agency and getting your first travel job. Follow these steps and, at the end of the road, you’ll have an exciting career as a travel nurse. You’ll get to go on temporary assignments that can last anywhere between 13 to 26 weeks at a time. You’ll also be able to learn new techniques and try different specialties along the way.

Here are 5 things you need to do to become a travel nurse:

1. Earn Your Degree in Nursing

Your first step is to become a registered nurse (RN). To do this, you need to earn either an Associate of Science degree in Nursing (ASN/AND) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). It typically takes two to three years to acquire an ASN/AND degree. This degree offers a combination of classroom lectures and clinical rotations. A BSN, on the other hand, is a four-year program. While it too offers a combination of classroom lectures and clinical rotations, it also prepares RNs for jobs in leadership roles. Whichever educational path you choose, both of these degrees will make you eligible to take the NCLEX-RN. And that’s your next step toward becoming a travel nurse.

2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

Once you’ve earned your degree, you need to get your RN or LPN license. To do that, you have to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, designed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). This exam will test your basic understanding and knowledge of nursing and will determine whether or not it is safe for you to begin practicing as an entry-level nurse. To take this exam, you must apply for a nursing license in the state in which you plan to work.

3. Gain Working Experience as a Registered Nurse

Now that you have your degree and your license to practice, it’s time to get some experience under your belt. Before becoming a travel nurse, you’ll need at least one year of permanent nursing experience at a hospital or other type of healthcare facility. This is when you can/should determine the specialty that interests you the most. Choosing a specialty in a high-demand area is a great way for you to more easily get a job as a travel nurse. This includes emergency room, ICU, labor and delivery, OR, telemetry, and much more.

4. Consider Professional Development Opportunities and Volunteer Work

Once you’ve had at least a year’s worth of experience as a practicing nurse, you are an eligible candidate for becoming a travel nurse. But, to get an edge over other candidates, there are some additional things you can do to make you more in demand.

For starters, the more facilities you work in, the more appealing you are. Travel nurses must quickly adapt to new hospitals and medical facilities, so if you can show that you’re capable of that, your travel nurse resume will stand out. A great way to do this without hopping from job to job regularly is to take advantage of professional development opportunities and resources.

Another way to stand out is to volunteer. Consider devoting your spare time to assisting underprivileged areas. This can mean exploring local opportunities or even traveling abroad and will help the healthcare industry combat nurse burnout. Both will help you gain valuable experience and show potential employers that you are capable of working with people from different backgrounds.

5. Find a Travel Nursing Agency

Once you’ve acquired your degree, your license, and you’ve got a good deal of on-site experience, it’s time to find your first job as a travel nurse. To make that happen, you now want to find a company that offers the benefits you desire, access to plenty of jobs to choose from, and a recruiter you can trust. To toot our own horn a bit, at Medical Solutions we work for you and in service of your career goals. With hospitals and healthcare facility connections nationwide, we help travelers find great travel nursing opportunities according to their desired location and specialty. Our recruiters are the best in the business because they focus on building a genuine relationship with each of their travelers. We also offer great pay, industry-leading benefits, and can assist with housing and relocation arrangements — anything to make the transition from assignment to assignment as smooth as possible.

As you can see, the path to travel nursing is not an easy one, nor is it a fast process. But it is certainly gratifying, and it’s a great way to ensure you’re in a profession that is always in demand — wherever your work may take you.

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COVID-19: What Traveling Healthcare Professionals Need to Know

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As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities and the world, traveling healthcare professionals like you will likely be caring for patients with the coronavirus disease. As you know, the known modes of transmission include respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes and by touching the eyes, nose, or mouth after contact with an infected surface.

While you will be at an increased risk of exposure to this virus, there are things you can do to protect yourself and others:

  • Follow the CDC’s guidelines and recommendations for infection prevention and control
  • Provide updated training on the proper use of personal protective equipment
  • When caring for patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19, use droplet and contact precautions.  If a patient is undergoing an aerosolizing procedure — such as intubation, suctioning, etc.— an N95 mask is required.
  • Continue to practice good hand hygiene
  • Practice routine cleaning and disinfection procedures
  • Remember to eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest

Now, more than ever, we are grateful for your commitment to patient care in these challenging times. Please know that Medical Solutions is here to support you. Our Clinical Team is here for you 24/7 to answer any questions you may have. Additionally, should you be exposed to COVID-19 while on assignment and are quarantined, Medical Solutions will pay your guaranteed hourly wages as well as your meals and housing stipends while you are away from home for up to 14 days.

To best keep up to date with news regarding COVID-19, please regularly consult the following sources:

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The American Nurses Association

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Six Spring-tastic Spots for Healthcare Travel Jobs

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Spring into action and find your next healthcare travel job opportunity!

There’s a season for just about everything, and job hunting is no exception. In fact, spring might be the best time of year to find a new job, according to Glassdoor. If you’ve got spring fever and are looking for that next great opportunity, consider the following top spring locations for healthcare travel jobs:

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Enjoy warm weather, bluebonnets, and outdoor festivals during your Texas spring!

Texas: The Lone Star State is wonderful year-round, but spring is an exceptional time to visit. For starters, the weather is practically perfect, bluebonnets are blooming, and outdoor festivals are in full swing. Stop by the capital city of Austin, shop and dine along the San Antonio River Walk, and remember the Alamo as you embrace Texas in the spring. You can learn more about The Lone Star State in our Texas State Spotlight.

Click here to explore jobs in Texas!

Cali.Spring - Six Spring-tastic Spots for Healthcare Travel Jobs
Drink in the beautiful California landscape as you savor a glass of wine.

California: The Golden State’s sandy beaches, majestic mountains, famous redwood forests, and rolling vineyards make Cali a dream destination for many traveling healthcare professionals. Strict staffing laws and big-city populations also mean there are tons of job opportunities here. Check out our California State Spotlight to learn more about The Golden State.

Click here to find healthcare travel jobs in California!

New York - Six Spring-tastic Spots for Healthcare Travel Jobs
Take a New York minute to stop and smell the flowers in Central Park.

New York: New York has plenty of job opportunities for the traveling healthcare professional, and it’s also the perfect place for spring activities. Fall in love with the outdoors as you tour the beautiful upstate region—behold Niagara Falls, explore the hiking trails of the famed Adirondacks, or jump into the Finger Lakes. And it almost goes without saying that the Big Apple has all the delights of a world-famous city: Broadway, museums, shopping, and dining experiences galore! Learn more about the Empire State in our New York State Spotlight.

Click here to explore healthcare travel jobs in New York!

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Enjoy scenic desert views, Southwestern cuisine, shopping, golfing, and more in Arizona this spring.

Arizona: This spring list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Arizona. From pro sports and hiking to shopping and sightseeing, Arizona has it all. Plus, there are tons of open jobs for traveling healthcare professionals here, thanks to the state’s sizeable snowbird population. Arizona is a walk-through state, a NURSYS state, and a compact state. You can learn more about the Grand Canyon State in our Arizona State Spotlight.

Click here to find a great healthcare travel job in Arizona!

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Spring is the perfect time to explore the sandy beaches in North Carolina!

North Carolina: Searching for the ultimate spring assignment? Look no further than North Carolina. With mountains to the west and beaches to the east, the state offers plenty of outdoor fun on your days off. As for urban adventures, you can enjoy a shopping trip in Charlotte, catch a Bulls baseball game in Durham, or grab a beer at one of several awesome breweries across the state. After all, April in North Carolina is Beer Month. Learn more about the Tar Heel State in our North Carolina State Spotlight.

Click here to find healthcare travel jobs in North Carolina!

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Watch the spring season unfold in Boston’s public gardens.

Massachusetts: From antique shopping to rock climbing, the Bay State offers visitors tons of diverse experiences suitable for spring. Catch a whale-watching tour near historic Plymouth Rock, stroll along Boston’s famous Freedom Trail, visit the witchy town of Salem, or hike the trails around the Berkshires. Learn more about The Bay State in our Massachusetts State Spotlight.

Click here to find healthcare travel jobs in Massachusetts!

Longing to go somewhere else this spring? Click here to explore all of our travel nurse, allied health, and other healthcare travel jobs!

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

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Traveler of the Month Jennifer U. is an ER nurse.

Many thanks and congrats to the December 2019 Traveler of the Month, Jennifer U., and also our Rising Star winner, Cassandra K.!

Traveler of the Month Jennifer is an ER RN. She works with Career Consultant Ted Merkin and is on assignment in Iowa. Jennifer, who started traveling in the fall of 2019, is already in love with her current location.

“The staff here has been so kind and helpful,” says Jennifer.

In fact, Jennifer loves the travel nurse lifestyle so much she encourages other nurses to give it a try.

“What I love about traveling is I can take care of my patients, meet new people, and avoid [office] politics,” says Jennifer.

Thank you so much for everything you do, Jennifer!

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Rising Star Cassandra K. has been in the healthcare industry since she was 16.

Rising Star Cassandra K. is an ER nurse as well. She’s been an RN for roughly three years now, but she’s been working in the healthcare industry since she was 16. Today, Cassandra is currently on assignment in Pennsylvania and she works with Career Consultant Jon Laubert.

When it comes to travel nursing, she loves the variety that comes with the gig.

“Every facility will do things a little differently,” says Cassandra. “This will make you a better RN, not only in the capacity of your skills, but also in how you navigate patient, physician, and family situations.”

Cassandra also shared a few pearls of wisdom for the new travelers out there.

  1. “Always be kind and smile. You are never too important to be kind!”
  2. “Make sure you are comfortable with your recruiter. You should be able to feel comfortable talking to them, asking questions, and voicing fears or concerns — Jon has pulled me from the edge several times!”
  3. “Don’t be afraid to ask for a certain price point. The worst thing that could happen is they say no.”

Thank you for your great advice and for your inspiring dedication to patient care, Cassandra!

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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.