Archive for January, 2010

The Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Travel nursing is nothing new to the healthcare industry – in fact, it’s been around for quite some time now. The industry began as nurses who enjoyed a lifestyle of skiing the slopes in the winter and sunbathing on beaches in the summer found a way to make that lifestyle a possibility while being able to make a living at the same time.

While there is a critical need for nurses, travel nurses are in incredibly high demand. For hospitals that have had difficulty recruiting and hiring permanent staff, travel nurses have filled a gap that allows the hospitals to continue to fill beds, and in some cases, keep them open. The shortage of nurses in the United States has lead to increased patient death rates, patient safety concerns, and has affected hospital staff’s ability to detect complications in patients.  A study conducted in 2002 indicated that persons who have surgeries in hospitals with higher numbers of patients per nurse are 31% more likely to die, even after common surgical procedures.

Industry Analysts are reporting that 15,000 to 20,000 traveling nurses are used each week in U.S. hospitals. Travel nurses enjoy the opportunity to travel and earn higher salaries, in addition to housing and traveling expenses, health benefits, and a retirement program. Agencies report that many of their nurses make about twice as much as they would if they were staff at the same facility. Salaries vary by experience, location, and specialty, but generally run $22 to $35 an hour, translating to a salary of $44,000 to $70,000 for a nurse working 40 hours per week 50 weeks a year, plus rules about mandatory overtime, weekends, and holidays do not apply. Also, many hospitals offer bonuses to travel nurses who are willing to work during holiday shifts.

When you contract for an assignment (the typical length is 13 weeks), many agencies offer a sign-on bonus, and most offer completion bonuses when you finish each assignment, which may range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the length of your assignment. Usually, the longer you work, the more bonus money you can earn.

Other ways to earn a bonus include agreeing to take a hard-to-fill position or referring a qualified colleague who completes an assignment, earning you a referral fee. Types of bonuses and their amounts can be as variable as the assignment. Bonuses may be cash dollars or may include points for a travel award program, special incentive bonuses, completion bonuses, relocation bonuses, and performance bonuses. Bonuses are typically paid by the agency, but may be paid by the client health care organization.

Agencies usually have management staff available on call 24/7/365 to support you in case of emergencies. For more routine questions, some agencies also have 24-hour hot lines. One agency chief provides travel nurses with emergency pagers that connect to a vice-president who’s authorized to assist them.

As you can see, travel nursing agencies offer a lot of benefits to suit your professional and personal needs. Ask your recruiter to explain your agency’s unique benefits package to you in detail so you know what’s available. Then start packing!

Stay Tuned For More Travel Nursing and STNA Opportunities!

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Stay Tuned as we write about subjects of interesting in the Travel Nursing, STNA, and othe Health Care professions!