How Does Travel Nursing Work?

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Traditionally, once a registered nurse has the required experience, licensure, and certifications, they will contact (or be contacted by) a travel nursing agency. Most agency models work through what is called a Managed Service Participant (MSP), an adjoining Vendor Management System (VMS), and are heavily reliant upon travel nursing recruiters.


Once making contact with a recruiter (or being sought out by one), nurses will then share their preference or be offered currently available positions in a variety of care settings around the country. This is the system that has been in place for the most part since the 1980s.


However, there are drawbacks to this traditional model:


First, dealing with a recruiter can be make or break. Sometimes the knowledge and support they can provide is hugely helpful, but other times, they become the bane of your existence, calling and texting you every other week to sell you on a new opportunity (think of them as salespeople looking to hit quarterly quotas). 


Second, given that the process to find you a job and get you hired is carried out by the recruiter (and their respective agency, MSP, and VMS), a large portion of your “bill rate,” or what the hospital is willing to pay for you, is eaten up by these middle men. This means you get paid less weekly on average.


Third, if you work with one agency one month and then another a few months later, you’ll have to reproduce all of the paperwork and legal material again for the second agency. Why would you switch agencies? Sometimes the job you want is only available through one agency or recruiter, and staying flexible is the name of the game if you want to find the best opportunity for you.


Don’t get us wrong, this model still works, but having not changed much in the past four decades leaves a lot of room for improvement. So, what do we recommend? Rather than going through a traditional travel nursing agency and attached recruiters, find your next travel nursing job through a job marketplace, like Trusted. Job marketplaces give you the agency in finding your next opportunity.


For example, with Trusted you create your own profile, which houses all of your official information (resume, nurse licensure, certifications, etc.) in one place, so no matter which opportunity you apply for, you don’t have to collect all the paperwork and share it again and again. You can fine-tune your profile to your job preferences, which allows a matching algorithm to only show you the best nursing jobs for you—the ones that actually match all of your desired preferences (location, salary, length, shifts, etc.).


Moreover, your Trusted Care Team will walk you through the entire process without nagging you before, during, or after your travel nurse assignment. And the best part? No recruiters. Your Trusted team is not compensated based on any kind of quota; their only goal is ensure that you’re matched with the best job for you and receive proactive support along the way.