Finding the right travel nursing recruiter can be your ticket to an incredible career in nursing, but what characteristics should you be looking for to find the best recruiters? And where can you find them? In our guide, we share helpful tips and tricks for researching, vetting, and working with nursing recruiters!
A travel nursing recruiter is a healthcare staffing professional who helps facilitate placement of travel nurses in temporary assignments at healthcare facilities of all sizes across the country. Their role is to be a career guide for nurses looking for travel jobs, as well as a powerful resource for hospitals, rural clinics, skilled nursing facilities, rehab centers, and other facilities that need RNs.
Recruiters who work with travel nursing agencies review resumes, verify licenses and credentials, facilitate background checks, set up job interviews with healthcare organizations, and make sure that the candidates they present to their facility clients are best suited for available positions.
While some travel nurse recruiters have exclusive job sourcing relationships with their clients, they’re also responsible for seeking out new healthcare facilities and looking through their recruitment database to match clinicians with open job positions at those facilities.
The early steps of a relationship with a job recruiter will involve a brief interview to assess career goals, availability, desirable locations, and any other preferences the candidate may have. Recruiters will use this critical information to help find the ideal assignments for the nurses they work with.
The licensing and credentialing process can be cumbersome without a knowledgeable healthcare recruiter to assist with all the details. Many US states have different rules and regulations for travel nurses, and recruiters can help make sure that all paperwork and required licensing, credentialing, and certifications have been completed to comply with those rules and regulations.
The work of a travel nursing recruiter doesn’t stop after a nurse accepts an offer. Before the nursing assignment starts, the recruiter is often responsible for handling pay packages, transportation, housing, furniture, and the necessary paperwork to make the transition to the new location as easy as possible for the RN.
Good healthcare staffing recruiters will maintain regular communication with the travel nurse during the recruitment process, providing updates on any new developments. They should also address any concerns, answer questions, and provide support as the nurse gets settled during their assignment.
Recruiters are there to make sure that any accommodation problems, scheduling issues, or other conflicts during a travel nursing assignment are handled accordingly. Making the process as smooth as possible for the nurse and the facility is integral to the recruitment process.
Some travel nursing recruiters can be great sounding boards for questions about healthcare career advancement and continuing education. In addition, they can help craft a path to new career goals for nurses who are interested in broadening their knowledge base or moving into new specialties.
The most effective travel nursing recruiters build strong relationships with both travel nurses and healthcare facilities. This rapport ensures that nurses receive desirable assignments and facilities have a reliable source of qualified temporary staff.
To help keep RNs on track for career goals, recruiters often reach out before an assignment concludes to find out if the nurse is interested in extending their contract at their current location, or if they want to move on to another city or facility. They also use this time to get feedback from the nurse on their experience with the healthcare facility.
Searching for a travel nurse recruiter can seem daunting, especially if you don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, there are several places where you can discover job recruiters and professional healthcare staffers.
As with most job searches, the digital world provides a great start. Searching for “travel nursing jobs” or “travel nursing recruiters” through search engines like Google can help you discover open job positions and recruiting companies across the country. Another option is to utilize professional networking sites like LinkedIn to connect with recruiters. There are also social media groups, podcasts, and blogs for travel nurses—such as The Vintage Traveling Nurse blog and podcast, or The Gypsy Nurse Facebook Group—where other nurses share recommendations, job opportunities, and more.
There’s no better way to find new opportunities than by attending local nursing job fairs, conferences, career days, or healthcare events. Nursing recruiters often participate in these events to connect with potential candidates, which makes it easy for you to meet recruiters face-to-face and assess their level of professionalism.
Turn to professional healthcare organizations for help in finding the right travel nurse recruiter for your needs. Organizations like the American Travel Health Nurses Association (ATHNA) provide resources and connections related to travel nursing. They may even have lists of recommended recruiters or agencies.
Travel nurses, like any profession, often post online about their experiences with travel job recruiters. Some even name their recruiters in their reviews, which can help you assess who has provided the best experiences during the recruitment and assignment process.
It doesn’t hurt to ask fellow RNs about their experiences with recruiters and travel nursing agencies. You can gain a wealth of firsthand knowledge by simply asking. Many nurses have no problem sharing information about their experiences, good or bad, and will even share recommendations for recruiters or agencies that made their experience as a travel nurse well worth the choice.
Nursing travel agencies are a great place to connect with healthcare recruiters. You can always make inquiries about their recruitment process before committing to any job assignment. Ask questions about the support they provide during and after assignments, and how long their recruitment process takes.
If you opt to work with a travel nurse staffing agency, there are several factors to look for before partnering with the company to ensure that you have the best experience.
Be sure to investigate whether the agencies you’re interested in are appropriately licensed. Keep in mind that accreditation and certain licenses are necessary for maintaining stringent industry standards. A sign that the agency in question is a good option for you is if they have Joint Commission Certification.
If you’re looking to expand your nursing career across the nation, it’s best to connect with a travel nursing agency that has positions available wherever you’d like to go. If you have a list of cities or states where you’d like to work, making sure the agency can accommodate your preferences is very important.
Don’t hesitate to ask about hiring, contracting, and relocation processes, including the duration of travel assignments and how contract renewals work. Being aware of all steps will help you be ready for critical dates and ensure you have the right points of contact for the new facility.
As with travel nursing recruiters, it’s best to look for reviews of any agency that you’d like to work with. It’s not always the total picture of what you can expect, but other nurses who have worked with the staffing agency will be frank about their experiences. Additionally, consider the reputation and longevity of the company. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many new agencies popped up due to the high demand for nurses. Unfortunately, some were more concerned with filling positions than helping their nurses find the best assignments. It might be worth looking for an agency that was around before the pandemic.
Transparency with pay and benefits is integral when looking for a reputable travel nursing company. Ask about pay rates, housing stipends, health insurance coverage, retirement plans, and other important benefits. With housing in particular, find out if the agency provides furnished housing in a safe area close to the facility where you’d be working, or if you’ll receive a stipend in lieu of company-provided housing.
Not all agencies are alike. Some have minimal jobs in less desirable areas; others work with the nation’s largest healthcare providers to place nurses across the country. The latter will typically have a steady stream of new opportunities for nurses who are interested in making travel nursing a full-time career.
As travel nursing is supposed to be a flexible way to practice your craft as an RN, look for a recruitment company that gives you the flexibility to determine your next steps. Any agency that pressures you to immediately book back-to-back assignments is probably not worth your time.
Trust your gut. If you’re receiving what appears to be scripted responses to questions or what sounds like unrealistic, fake promises, don’t hesitate to move on. Another point of concern to watch out for is if response times from the agency take forever. This can be a sign that the agency is overburdened or understaffed. Also, be sure to ask if the nursing support team is located offshore. An onshore (i.e., in America) team is crucial if you need professional or clinical support at any hour of the day.
Whether you choose to work with an individual travel nurse recruiter or a staffing agency, it’s a good idea to ask thorough questions upfront. This will help you find a recruiter who can work with you to create a travel nursing career that checks all the boxes.
How long have you been a travel nurse recruiter?
What is your background in nursing?
How did you get into healthcare staffing?
Can you provide references from travel nurses you’ve worked with in the past (or currently)?
What are the travel nursing assignments like?
Can you speak to the kind of locations and facilities where you have job opportunities?
Do you hire for all nursing specialties, or do you specialize in certain areas like telehealth?
What are the typical durations of travel assignments?
Do you help nurses obtain the necessary licenses and certifications for different states?
Can I rely on you to help with the entire credentialing process?
What are the pay rates for your positions?
What benefits does your agency offer?
Do benefits begin on day one?
Are there copays for healthcare insurance?
Do you provide retirement options?
What are the available housing options for travel nurses?
Do you provide reimbursement or stipend options for housing?
What relocation assistance do you provide?
How often will I hear from you while I’m on assignment?
If issues arise during my time at the facility, can I count on you to help settle any potential problems?
What should I do if an emergency arises where I need immediate support?
If I choose your nursing travel agency, can I count on a steady flow of jobs to keep me busy?
Do you have varying assignment lengths (e.g., 8 weeks, 13 weeks, 26 weeks)?
Are there any additional requirements, such as on-call shifts or overtime?
How do you handle overtime pay and schedule changes?
How does paid time off work during assignments?
What are your cancellation policies?
Will you go over contracts with me and explain all the necessary details?
How does the contract renewal process work?
If I’m interested in continuing my nursing development and education, do you offer any continuing education options?
Do you offer webinars or have blogs I can subscribe to so I can make sure to stay up-to-date on the most important issues in travel nursing?
What are the next steps for me to get started?
How soon should I expect a response once I’ve provided any necessary information?
Should I apply for jobs on your website or work directly with a recruiter?
When shopping for a travel nurse recruiter, it’s always a good idea to contact multiple recruiters and agencies and schedule conversation time. Make sure to compare their services and responsiveness, and ask about available opportunities and how often they post new jobs.
Before you speak with a travel nurse recruiter, make sure you have a list of questions to ask. It will help you be better prepared for the conversation and can help you compare the answers you get from different agencies.
Just as your nursing license and credentials will be verified before you start a travel nursing assignment, it’s a good practice to ask for the appropriate licenses and registrations with governing bodies and authorities. This step is critical because it helps ensure that you’re working with a legitimate, compliant recruiter or company that abides by the industry’s standards.
As with any major decision, your instincts are often right from the get-go. If you feel that the healthcare recruiter isn’t being upfront or communicating effectively, thank them for their time and move on.
With over 25 years in the travel nursing industry, TRS Healthcare is the partner and advocate you can count on. We’re RN-founded and committed to helping our nurses advance their careers and personalize their work experiences. We have a great recruitment team that’s happy to answer any and all of your questions.
If you’re interested in working with a TRS Healthcare recruiter, apply with us now!