Category: Ask a Travel Nurse Recruiter

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Ask a Recruiter: Travel Nurse Pay

We’re bringing back our Ask a Recruiter series! This installment features Medical Solutions’ Charity Crawford, a highly experienced career consultant and team lead, fielding a question on travel nurse pay. Take it away, Charity!

Question: What salary can I expect as a travel nurse? What factors determine this rate?

Answer: One of the perks of traveling is the potential for increased salary. Every assignment will have a different pay rate so it’s important to have an understanding how pay works when you are a traveler so you can make appropriate decisions when choosing companies and assignments.

There are multiple factors that determine how much an assignment will pay; here are a few of the big ones:

1) Location, location, location.

Sometimes, the assignments that pay the least are the ones that are the most attractive from a location standpoint. Take Hawaii for example – it’s a beautiful state with plenty to see and do. It’s usually in the top one or two slots on a traveler’s Top 10 Places to Visit list. I mean, come on, it’s Hawaii. However, because of this, the rates are not as high because there is a lot more competition.  It’s a location assignment and generally not a huge moneymaker. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t travel to Hawaii, but you should certainly plan, save, and budget accordingly and perhaps take assignments in higher paying, less desirable locations in the meantime so you have enough socked away.

2) Speaking of competition…

Many U.S. states are now part of the Compact (or Multistate) License. This means that many travelers now have compact licenses, so their preferences are typically to work in states that are part of the Compact/Multistate membership. This leaves our friends in places like New York, Washington, New Jersey, etc., struggling a bit more to find nurses. The states that are not part of the Compact membership will often have higher rates to attract nurses to those states. Yes, that could mean that you’d have to pick up a couple licenses. But, talk to your recruiter about reimbursement, and just think about how much less competition you’ll have for those positions.

3) Housing and Benefits

Most agencies have a “bucket” they work out of when it comes to structuring pay packages for travelers. Each traveler tends to have his or her own individual needs for housing, insurance, bonuses, etc. The bucket, then, is divided out to help compensate for those needs. You might be a traveler who needs a two-bedroom high-rise apartment, or you might be someone who is just fine with a Super 8. Either is totally fine, just keep in mind that the more your needs cost, more from the bucket will need to be applied toward those needs.

4) Hourly vs taxable

Many travel companies are able to offer non-taxable stipends for housing, meals & incidentals, and travel expenses. When these stipends are included in your pay package, your hourly (or base) taxable wage is often adjusted to allow “room” for these stipends. Depending on how much your hourly is adjusted, you could have less taxes deducted, which in turn means more going in your pocket. You’ll want to speak with your specific recruiter(s) to understand how each individual company structures this.

These are only a few of the factors that can determine your pay. It is difficult to pinpoint an “average” or specific number because every person has their own individual needs and expectations. The most important thing is to figure out your finances and determine what you need to make versus what you’d like to make, then have the conversation with your recruiter so you both have a clear understanding of the expectations before you get too far into the process. Understand that there will be assignments that pay more than others, but you should still come out ahead in the long run.

 

 

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Ask a Travel Nurse Recruiter: What kind of schedules does travel nursing offer?

travel nurse schedulesQ.

What kind of schedules does travel nursing offer? Full-time, part-time, intermittent?

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There are a few ways that travel contract schedules are agreed upon.

The short answer is: Travel nursing is usually a full-time commitment.

The long answer: As a travel nurse you should be open to working a standard 13 week contract, but contracts can range anywhere from 4-8 weeks or even longer at 26 weeks or more. As far a weekly schedule, those can be arranged ahead of time and written into a contract but schedules are usually handled during your phone interview with the hospital’s hiring manager.

The schedules range anywhere from an 8, 10 or 12 hour shift with either a 36 or 40 guarantee on your hours worked for the week.

In the past I have had travel nurses work weekends only or even blocking shifts together where they worked 3 days on the floor in a row.  Basically if you need a specific schedule, ask for it, but remember, being as flexible as possible on schedule and shift worked will get you more interviews and open you up to many more job opportunities as well!

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Ask A Travel Nurse Recruiter: How negotiable are travel nursing contracts?

Travel Nursing Contracts

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How negotiable are travel nursing contracts?

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A good contract will lay out everything in writing that was discussed about the position when you and your recruiter were in the early stages of submitting your profile for the position. There shouldn’t be any surprises once you receive your contract, and you will want to make sure to read through it thoroughly to ensure the verbiage makes sense to you.

You may or may not have the option to negotiate certain terms of your contract once you have received it. Certain parts of a contract are legal obligations that the company or hospital has in place that cannot be negotiated. Examples of these may include confidentiality agreements, breach of contract, incident reporting, etc. Some facilities have cancellation policies or other requirements for background testing, medical documentation, etc. that are also non-negotiable.

Many travelers want to negotiate the pay once they have received their contracts. Depending on the relationship you have with your recruiter, ideally you should know before receiving the contract what your hourly pay, stipend amounts (if applicable), and overtime pay rate will be. I would definitely encourage you to have an open discussion with your recruiter about your pay and benefit expectations before getting too far into the submittal and interview process. If you wait until you are getting interviews, only to find out that the pay is not going to meet your expectations, it will have been a waste of your time, not to mention the company’s and hospital’s time.

Bottom line, it never hurts to ask for more. But, if you did agree to the terms of the pay before receiving the contract and the company is unable to give you more money after you receive the contract, it would not be professional at that point to turn down the contract for that reason. It’s a different story if the company verbally committed to pay terms before you received the contract and the contract shows something completely different. That’s why it is very important to choose a good recruiter & company early in the game so you have a trust and rapport developed, the lines of communication are completely open, and you know that your best interests are being met.

Saving money tip: The IRS allows for non-taxable meals and incidentals when traveling based on defined IRS guidelines. That information can be found at their website and I encourage all travelers to review it.

 

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Ask a Travel Nurse Recruiter: What happens when I get sick during my assignment?

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What happens when I get sick during my assignment?

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Well, I wish there was a simple answer but as most things in the travel nursing industry, it depends on the hospital.  I can tell you that all hospitals realize that nurses are human and do get sick, especially with their surroundings.  So, if a nurse gets a bug and needs to take a couple days off of work, its usually not a big deal and the nurse is encouraged to stay away from the hospital and patients until they recover.  The only time it could potentially become a problem is if the nurse is sick more than a few days and ends up taking multiple weeks off during an assignment.  At this point the hospital or company will probably want a note from the doctor to justify so much time off.  And by the way, its always good to get a doctors note to show the hospital or company if it’s possible to get one.

As far as pay goes, since the nurse is a contract worker and not on a fixed salary, the hospital will not pay a nurse for any time taken off for being sick.