You’re a veteran travel nurse and at this point in your career, you know everything there is to know about walking into a new facility, in a new city, a new state, a new climate and new geography. You know how to find your own housing and how to file your own taxes to get the most return on your nomadic professional life. Your company and your recruiter do what they do and you always bring your A game on every assignment. Travel nursing, at this point, is a well-oiled machine for you and ain’t nothin’ gonna breaka your stride. Except there are a few things your company isn’t sharing with you. Don’t worry…we’ll Penn and Teller this out for you.
Travel Companies lie about positions
Have you ever called a travel staffing company and told them what you were looking for, in great detail, and magically they happen to have that exact position available? It’s everything you are looking for as far as location, pay, shift, start date and the recruiter can get you an interview today. All you need to do, you’re told, is fill out all the paperwork so you can be submitted. Equally magical but far less delicious is the revelation that your perfect position has been filled as soon as you’ve finished jumping through hoops. But don’t worry, the recruiter assures you, there are other jobs out there.
Yep. It was all a lie to get you to complete the application.
It’s not that positions don’t fill up quickly sometimes because they certainly can. However, the job was “perfect” and you should be as skeptical of that as you would a politician vowing to tell the truth. I have heard from many travelers that the paperwork on the front end of working for a new company can be so egregious that nurses are sorely tempted to just stay with their current company. Regardless of their dissatisfaction levels, to not have the extra hassle. The big companies know that by being deceptive to get you in the door, there’s a good chance you will begrudgingly stay with them anyway.
Travel companies can’t staff every facility
For each facility that your travel company staffs, there is a master contract agreement where the details are all ironed out before a traveler even knows a position exists there. Sometimes these are for a single facility and sometimes they are for a group of hospitals. Some contracts are won only through bidding (such as VA hospitals and some Indian Health Services facilities), some are based on a waiting list and some are just hammered out through good old-fashioned negotiation. Some are exclusive to a company specifically.
I recall a nurse I was working with had received an offer from a facility in Maine with whom we had an exclusive contract. A giant company who shall not be named, contacted our nurse and said they were not going to lose her to TRS Healthcare and that she could write her own paycheck if she would agree to go there with them. When I informed her that they were lying, as it was an exclusive contract that they were unable to staff, she called them back and gave them an earful about their practices. They still play the same games because they are too big to have anything to lose, too wealthy to be concerned about their abysmal reputation.
You can take the housing reimbursement rather than getting housing provided for you
So you accepted a contract with one of the biggest companies out there and they offered you free housing, which you readily jumped at taking. Firstly, let’s point out that there’s nothing “free” about the option they have provided you. A company that has exclusive staffing agreements with facilities will sign long term leases and pay a fraction of what someone else would pay. So instead of getting an extra $650 a week for you, you agreed to take provided housing that costs your company maybe $400 monthly because they signed a 5 year lease on that apartment. That’s over $6000 lost over a 13 week assignment because you weren’t told you had options.
The point of this blog is to give you a peek behind the curtain and to encourage you to ask some very specific questions when talking with a prospective company. If you’re a current traveler and everything is working out fine without this information, good for you…stick with it. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to know how the gears fit together, may this knowledge aid you in your next assignment hunt!