How to Choose the Best Travel Nursing Agency: 5 Critical Things to Look For
In 2017, hospitals participating in a KPMG study reported that 11% of their staff were traveling nurses — and they expected that population to grow by nearly 8% in the next year. Because hospitals are losing an estimated 13% of their permanent nurses every year, they are turning to travel nurses to fill specialty roles and maintain their standard of patient care.
Maybe you’ve already heard about the opportunities available to you in travel nursing. As the demand for temporary nursing staff increases, you may begin to hear from recruiters or talk with friends who are getting into travel nursing. As you consider it for yourself, you’ll want to be able to assess these travel nursing companies well. Out of all the agencies out there, which ones are the best? How do you choose an agency that will fit your needs — or have your best interests in mind?
We’d like to help you answer these questions. In order to find out which companies will really care about your career and experiences, here are our recommendations for five critical things to look for in a travel nursing agency.
5 Critical Things to Look for in a Travel Nursing Agency
1. Awards and Reviews
If the agency has won awards and has a good ranking on travel nursing review sites, chances are that they’re serving their nurses well. Read carefully about things like assignment locations and availability, competitive pay, career development, and agency relationship. It’s important for the agency’s current nursing community to be voting for them in independent surveys and expressing their appreciation, whether on review sites or social media. If you don’t see as many of these signals, continue your search for the right agency. You also want to make sure that the travel nursing company you choose has been Joint-Commission certified.
For survey results and reviews, check sites such as:
Look for awards such as:
- Top Companies / Top 10
- Best Overall
- Gold Winner
- Most Loyal
- Most Traveler-Centric
- Best Career Accelerator
2. Continuing Education & Career Building
Not every travel nursing agency will be invested in your professional development. If you want to build your career and have the opportunity to learn new skills, look for an agency that emphasizes continuing education. Some even offer tuition reimbursement and bonuses for completing education programs. This is a clear indicator that the agency will be looking out for your long-term interests as you learn more and continue to travel with them. Travel nurses generally earn more than those who don’t travel; traveling nurses in certain specialties and those who pursue higher education can increase their earning potential even further. Make sure you have the opportunity to do so with your agency.
3. Great Locations & Assignment Availability
The best travel nursing agencies will have a variety of great locations for you to choose from — and they’ll also have a range of assignments that can fit your needs and skill set. Evaluate based on your priorities:
- If you love to travel and explore new places, see if an agency’s offered locations are unique or interesting to you. It’s ok to choose any agency based on the places you’d like to visit!
- In terms of assignment availability, if you try to apply for jobs and find out that the post no longer exists, chances are that the agency is not keeping their jobs up to date. Good agencies will have a way to alert you about the most current jobs so you can apply in a timely manner.
- If you are seeking specialty assignments, make sure that your agency has diversity in their offerings. Some specialties are in greater demand and provide more lucrative pay rates, and you will want your agency to be attuned to that.
4. Recruiter & Agency Relationship
When you start getting in touch with different travel nursing agencies, you should be speaking with recruiters who listen carefully and are knowledgeable about everything that their agency has to offer you. Their job is not just to get you a great contract, but to ensure that you have what you need when you start traveling — and that the right assignments come your way. The agency’s attentiveness to their current community and their ongoing relationship with you should be top priority. If you feel that your recruiter isn’t responsive to you or that you’re unsure of what your agency will do for you, it’s definitely time to pick another staffing company.
5. Range of Benefits
Before you jump on board with a travel nursing company, you need to make sure that they have a benefits package that fits your needs. Ask the following questions:
- Will this agency pay me even if my hospital shift is shortened or cut?
- Will I receive assistance with housing?
- Will I get tax advice and help with licensure fees?
- Will I get paid sick leave?
- Will anyone give me career advice or counseling if I need it?
- Will my travel expenses be reimbursed?
- Will I get any incentives for working overtime?
- Will I get travel insurance?
- Will I be able to get paid weekly?
- Will I have free continuing education opportunities?
Some items may be more important to you than others, but this list will give you a place to start. Whatever travel nursing agency you choose, make sure that you get along with your recruiter and support team. They are the ones who can provide you with assistance and answer your questions — and they will also care about your job placements and travel needs. The best agencies will provide even more perks and special opportunities and have a community that you’ll enjoy being apart of.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Settle for Less
Becoming a travel nurse can be very exciting. You’ll get to meet new people, enjoy great locations, and build your skills and expertise. However, partnering with an inattentive or substandard agency can ruin the travel nursing experience for you. Partnering with an incredible agency, on the other hand, can give you years of unique opportunities, friendship, medical experience, and personal fulfillment. Whichever travel nursing agency you choose, don’t settle for less!
We Love Our People. Want to Be Part of Our Family?
At Travel Nurse Across America, we believe that our people make us great. Our community is second-to-none, and we want to ensure that you have quality experiences that help you build your career and establish great new connections. We believe that you deserve the best, so we’ve built a catalog of benefits to empower our nurses both personally and professionally. Because of our people, we’ve won a number of awards and honors from travel nursing review sites. We care about what you care about — and we’re going to continue to do that for years to come. If you’d like to find out more about what it would be like to partner with TNAA as a travel nurse, let one of our recruiters get in touch with you. We would love to speak with you!