When I decided that I wanted to become a travel nurse, I had zero ideas on where I should start. I simply Googled “Travel Nurse Agencies” and clicked on the first two links I found – Medical Solutions and Travel Nurse Across America. Blindly, I gave my information to these two agencies and quickly received a phone call from Medical Solutions. Before I knew it I had interviewed for my first travel nurse job, accepted the job, quit my staff job, packed my apartment, and 5+ years later I was still travel nursing.
Throughout my years as a travel nurse, I have signed 14 contracts with multiple different agencies and have spent endless hours on the phone chatting with various recruiters, trying to iron out the nitty-gritty details of what their specific agency offers and how they differ from others. Figuring all of this out was hard, stressful, and time-consuming. So while I’m hesitant to put this all out there, after all… everyone has their own unique experiences; I’ve decided transparency is the best policy. And while every agency has its pros and cons, there are still some that outrank others. And I think it’s time to hear it straight from travel nurses themselves.
Before reading any further, PLEASE keep in mind that every person will have a unique experience. You could have a truly fantastic recruiter in a terrible company, and love it because your recruiter has made your experience memorable. Or you could have a terrible recruiter in an awesome company, and your experience is ruined because the recruiter was a nightmare and a half to deal with. (Read about that here).
Travel Nurse Agencies I’ve Personally Worked With (Ranked Best to Worst)
Before reading further, if you’re looking for more support when it comes to being a travel nurse I suggest purchasing “The Ultimate Travel Nurse Bundle” to get everything you need to know from start to finish about becoming a travel nurse!
I signed five contracts with Fusion Medical and by far, they were my favorite company to work with. I’ve always felt that Fusion is acting in my best interest at heart, organized, transparent, and have had my back at every turn. I’ve never felt taken advantage of and my recruiter is always easy to talk to, and easy to get in touch with if I have an issue. (Please DM me on Instagram if you want her information!).
WHY I LIKE FUSION MEDICAL
They prepare you well for your interview by sending along some questions to make sure to ask. Plus they send a questionnaire once the interview is done, which leads me to believe that they want to make sure that you’ve had a good experience with the interview process. Once you land a job they are organized and send over everything you need to get done in a timely fashion. Plus they offer competitive pay packages and they allow you to accrue PTO.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT FUSION MEDICAL
They have a clause in their contract about you getting canceled from the hospital. They state that if the hospital cancels you, they will withhold your stipend. This is the type of clause you want to fight, and it’s something that is even on my “non-negotiable list” which you can read here.
Want more information on working with Fusion?
Your Guide to Travel Nurse Pay + The Importance of Transparency in Travel Nursing
Just like Fusion Medical, another company that I love is Host Healthcare. As cliche as it sounds… Host feels like a big, warm hug at the end of a tough day. They have your back, are reliable, and easy to work with. There isn’t much else to it! Please DM me on Instagram if you’re looking to be paired with a Host recruiter!
WHY I LIKE HOST HEALTHCARE
Host really has your back in all scenarios. When COVID was alive and rampant, Host had an incredible PAID sick leave policy that was difficult to find anywhere else. (They still have a COVID policy regardless of your vaccination status). This alone tells me that they truly care about their travelers and their well-being.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT HOST HEALTHCARE
While I haven’t personally experienced this, I’ve heard from other travel nurses that it can at times, be difficult to get ahold of the recruiters at Host. And this isn’t once you have a recruiter, but this is before you’re matched with a recruiter; it can take some time for someone to initially reach out.
I signed four different contracts with Medical Solutions, and have found them to be the easiest to work with. The way that they get all of your paperwork together, have you submit your timesheet, and make sure you’re ready to go is seamless. I will say, however, that once you’re done working with them it is very hard to get ahold of anyone. If you need to access proof of employment history, Medical Solutions has made it nearly impossible.
WHY I LIKE MEDICAL SOLUTIONS
Working with Medical Solutions is just plain EASY. Plus after so many hours worked, you get a $400 bonus that is deposited directly to your bank account! The company staffs many different hospitals and even has “first rights” to hospitals in the Phoenix area.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT MEDICAL SOLUTIONS
I personally found Medical Solutions to be low-paying. This could be that I was a new travel nurse and didn’t know how to negotiate, but it felt like I had been taken advantage of and which is why I ultimately stopped working with them.
Every assignment I showed up to, I was always the lowest paid traveler on the floor. Plus I felt as though I had to fight for every penny. One contract I forgot to mention my travel stipend (which you shouldn’t even have to mention, it should just be in the contract), but because I hadn’t mentioned it… it wasn’t in my contract. When I mentioned this to my recruiter she said, “Well that wasn’t something that we agreed on.” And while I did end up receiving it, it’s not something that I should have had to argue about. (If this has happened to you and your recruiter didn’t make it right, ditch him/her ASAP. Most companies – including Fusion Medical – don’t require this to be a part of your contract; it’s just included!)
I signed two contracts with American Mobile and now avoid them at all costs. From the beginning working with the company was a nightmare. Nothing was organized or timely. I didn’t receive my travel stipend on time because I didn’t take a picture of my odometer between leaving Nebraska and arriving in California. Something they failed to mention I would need to do. I was then shorted on almost every paycheck, and when I would call my recruiter to let her know… she wouldn’t answer. Can you see why I avoid them at all costs? (For more details on why I dislike American Mobile read: The Worst Experience I’ve Had With a Travel Nurse Recruiter).
WHY I LIKE AMERICAN MOBILE
They have essentially monopolized all hospitals in California. If you’re wanting to get to a certain hospital in California, especially Northern California, your best bet is to have a profile with American Mobile. However, there are ways around this. If American Mobile isn’t able to fill those hospitals’ needs in a certain time frame, other companies are then allowed to start submitting travelers. You can try to do it this way, but if you’re desperate to land a job in Northern California, submitting with American Mobile is unfortunately your best bet.
However, I would first have an open and honest conversation with the recruiter you’re already working with. I would say something like “Hi X. I want to go to X hospital (be specific which hospital) and was wondering if your company staffs there? If you do staff there does American Mobile get priority? What percentage of travelers do you end up getting placed in that hospital?” I had this conversation with my recruiter at Fusion and she honestly told me that they are hardly ever able to staff travelers in the particular hospital I was asking about because American Mobile usually fills the positions.
WHY I DON’T LIKE WORKING WITH AMERICAN MOBILE
There are tons of reasons I don’t like American Mobile. The main reasons are that I wasn’t paid on time, most of my paychecks were incorrect, the company makes it hard to claim your travel stipend, you don’t get your travel stipends on week one of your contract, the company generally doesn’t have your back, the recruiters are pushy, and the list goes on.
Read more here on why you should be cautious when working with American Mobile!
Travel Nurse Agency Reviews from Other Trusted Travel Nurses
Review from Jessica Eisenmann at The Wanderlust Diaries
Emerald Health Services
Review from Sarah Gaines at The 6 Figure Travel Nurse
“I’ve been a nurse for 7 years and a labor and delivery travel nurse for 4 years. I’ve officially been a travel nurse longer than I was a staff nurse! I heard about Emerald Health Services a few years ago when I attended one of their events in Los Angeles, California. I’ve been working with them ever since because they’ve always treated me like family and they’ve proven to be a company I can rely on. Not to mention, their top-notch benefits and high compensation makes it pretty easy to choose them over others.”
Find Sarah on Instagram @sarah_gaines
Review from Leah Gnitka
“I started working with Aya Healthcare right away 3 years ago. I sent in my application to them and started talking to recruiters before I even graduated college. They told me they would be happy to accept my profile, but that they’d give me a call back in a year. So 9 months later, a recruiter from Aya Healthcare reached back out to me and helped me through the process of getting started on my first travel nurse assignment. Because they contacted me so early, I got the process rolling pretty quickly and started traveling right when I reached my 1-year. I have now been with Aya Healthcare for the 2 years of my travel career.
The reason why I stick with this company is because of how personal they are. From my recruiter down to my payroll representative, everyone I have worked with is so easy to get along with and has your back. They truly care about their nurses and want to get to know you as a person, not just get you to sign a contract with them.”
Find Leah on Instagram @scrubsinasuitcase
TO SUM IT UP…
Because travel nurse contracts are typically 13+ weeks, it would be impossible to work with every single agency out there! And quite frankly, when you find a recruiter and an agency that you like… you hold on tight. Even when you find a recruiter that you like, it’s oftentimes in your best interest to have a profile with more than one company (I suggest working with two companies at once). This is because not every company staffs in every hospital. Your chances of getting to where you want to go increase if you’re working with more than one person. I recommend working with Fusion Medical – DM me on Instagram for my recruiters info – she’s absolutely incredible to work with. And working with Host Healthcare – fill out this form and reference my name “Kylee Nelson” to be paired with a senior level recruiter.
Need more guidance? Check out the posts below!
Not All Travel Nurse Companies are Created Equal – What to Know Before Signing Your First Contract
Knowing When to Walk Away from Your Dream Travel Nurse Assignment
How to Pick the Right Travel Nurse Recruiter For You