When I decided that I wanted to become a travel nurse, I had zero clue where to 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, quickly received a phone call to interview for my first travel job, got the job, quit my staff job, packed my apartment, and nearly three years later I am still a travel nurse with no intent of slowing down.
I have now signed eight different contracts with three 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. Plus, because recruiters get payed when you sign a contract, they will of course tell you that they work for the best agency out there. And while every agency has its own 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 each and every person will have a unique experience. That you could have a truly fantastic recruiter in a terrible company, and absolutely 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 totally ruined because the recruiter was a nightmare and a half to deal with.
Travel Nurse Agencies I’ve Personally Worked with Ranked Best to Worst
I have now signed two different contracts with Fusion Medical, and with the way things are going, I don’t foresee myself switching companies any time soon. I’ve always felt that Fusion is acting in my best interest, organized, and have had my back throughout my contracts. 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.
Pros: 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.
Cons: They have a clause in their contract about you getting cancelled 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.
I have signed four different contracts with Medical Solutions, and have actually 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.
Pros: 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!
Cons: I found Medical Solutions to be low paying. 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 and it wasn’t put in my contract. When I mentioned it 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. It should have been a guaranteed part of my contract. (Ps 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 one contract 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 to 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?
Pros: They have essentially monopolized 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. There are ways around this – if American Mobile doesn’t fill the positions the hospital needs in a certain time frame, then other companies can submit travelers. But again, if you’re wanting to get to a certain hospital in California, unfortunately, American Mobile is 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 really want to go to X hospital (be specific which hospital) and was wondering if you staff there? If you do staff there does American Mobile get first 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.
Cons: Not getting paid on time, making it difficult to claim your travel stipend, the company doesn’t have your back, pushy recruiters, the list goes on.
Travel Nurse Agencies I Have NOT Worked with, But Would if an Opportunity Presented Itself
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 a agency that you like… you hold on tight because they can be few and far between. Even when you find a recruiter that you like, it’s often times in your best interest to have a profile with more than one company. 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.
Now that I’ve essentially checked off almost every hospital I want to work in, I’m comfortable staying loyal to Fusion Medical. However, before I found them, the following agencies are agencies I have heard great things about and would be open to signing a contract with if anything were to happen. For that reason, I already have a “profile” with each of these agencies should a contract ever fall through my resume is ready to go and be submitted by someone else! These include Travel Nurse Across America, Aya Healthcare, RTG Medical, and FastStaff.
If you’re looking to get into travel nursing and would like to discuss which company may be right for you and receive my recruiter’s contact information, please send me a direct message on Instagram – @passportsandpreemies
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 staff! 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 at Scrubs in a Suitcase
“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 definitely 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
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