Getting Paid – A Nightmare for Some Travel Nurses

Travel nursing involves some risk. That’s a given. From waiting on assignments to being underbid by other nurses to untrustworthy agencies, it can be challenging to be a travel nurse. What’s worse is that many travel nurses aren’t certain about which type of assignments are more lucrative. This can mean that getting paid can be a nightmare for some travelers.

Most travel nurses will tell you that travel pay is almost always higher. But is that always better? There are some factors to consider. 

  1. Higher travel pay often means lower benefits for you.
  2. Higher travel pay means on slow days, you will likely be the first one sent home.
  3. Untrustworthy agencies can ruin the whole experience for you.

Let’s examine these factor deeper.

Higher pay often means lower benefits

If you have expensive prescriptions to cover, having higher benefits costs out of pocket will likely be a wash over more pay. You must have your medication(s) and getting more travel money without a prescription card, just means you’ll end up paying for the prescription with the extra money. How is that an improvement for you?

Many nurses who do extensive or even exclusive travel nursing, find it works out better for them to purchase their own insurance as a freelancer. This lets them choose their own agencies and switch at any time without any lapse in coverage. It also means they can ask for more money per hour instead of taking insurance. Many agencies are happy to accommodate this. Here’s an interesting thread on another nursing forum from a few years back. The nurses in this thread discuss the benefits of purchasing your own insurance and charging a little extra.

On slow days, you’ll be the first one sent home

This is a given. If your hourly rate exceeds the rates of the FTEs (full-time employees), you’re going home first. Hospitals may appreciate your skills, but ultimately, they care more about their bottom line and if they can save a few hundred dollars sending you home before another, they will. Make no mistake.

Hourly guarantees are important in travel contracts, so make sure that even if the facility sends you home, you will meet your minimum weekly hours that are guaranteed to you.

Untrustworthy agencies can ruin the experience for you

Ever looked at some of the agency ratings on Scary isn’t it? Some of these agencies have nearly triple the number of down votes compared to up votes. What does that say about how they’ll treat you? Granted everyone’s experiences are different, but a company with say 500+ down votes has got to be doing something very wrong.

Bottom line, travel nursing involves risk. What has your experience been? Let us know.

FULL DISCLOSURE: BlueForce is a staffing agency dedicated to the travel nursing industry. If you are interested in learning more about travel nursing or are ready to take on travel assignments now, please contact us.