I'm here with several pieces of travel nursing advice regarding Travel Nurse Agencies. 
Let's start with how to choose a travel nursing agency. So what is the travel nurse agency and their recruiter to you? They are the third-party contractors that give you access to hospital job openings they are linked up with. You need to be contracted through an agency to work for that hospital.

A way to find a good one is to ask around and through other travel nurses. You can't always trust that approach because the nurses push for an agency because sometimes they want a referral cash award.

I would recommend choosing three agencies.  You can compare and contrast pay packages and other factors.

It's a tedious process to set up a profile with an agency. That's why three is a good number. It's not just an application. You'll be submitting documents that you need and providing references. Waiting on somebody to complete a reference for you could be brutal.

The travel agencies reimburse you for the license that you get from the state. So, for instance, if I was getting a Texas license and weren't getting a job in Texas, would that agency reimburse me for the cost of the licensure in Texas? Some agencies reimburse licenses. 

Some agencies reimburse travel expenses. So if you need to transport your car from the east coast to the west coast, definitely check out what the agency is gonna hook you up with.

Pay Packages
The pay packages are the biggest thing that you compare and contrast between different agencies. Be careful - some agencies will try to play you. Be willing to reach out to my other agencies and see if they'd be willing to pay more or match another.

You need to feel as if your recruiter is pulling for you. Your recruiter may be taking care of 50 or more nurses at a time, which means that sometimes you feel like just a number. You may start your travel assignment, and then you may not hear from your recruiter again for weeks, and that's unnerving, especially because the wrong recruiter can make or break your assignment. 

A great recruiter can make your assignment better. A bad recruiter can make your assignment a nightmare, so you want to have a good recruiter and perhaps from a smaller agency because they can give you more attention.

You need to be looking for three that are very ethical. It's really important to do your research. Some of the best ways to research travel the nursing agency prospect are to go online to the websites that offer agency rankings. Be aware that some of these websites are either owned by agencies or lead generators website that collects your information and sells it to agencies.

More importantly, you can go on there and read what traveling nurses say about them. Back to ethical concerns - some agencies can easily go on there and enter comments and rate themselves! You can tell what comments are made by actual traveling nurses.  You can also go online to forums and ask other traveling nurses. 

I recommend always working with multiple recruiters - you'll just have the best opportunities that way. Different agencies specialize in different areas. Oftentimes an agency will have a stronghold on the area where they are located, especially local agencies. 

Big and Small
Different agencies offer different locations. You'll have to contact the recruiter to get all the specs and information.  Get a brief description of the role to get an idea of what areas are paying.

Once you find your 3, stay up to date with them. You'll get calls from the other ones. Most nurses travel with one of their chosen three because they've been so good to them and you know it's all good. 

I get many questions about the difference between all the agencies.  How do you know which one is for you?

I'm going to go over three main topics today: one of them is going to be big agencies, smaller agencies, and then the difference between the two. What are the pros and cons of going with a bigger agency or a smaller agency?

First, ask yourself the big question: Why do you want to be a travel nurse?  Why is that important? You need to ask because if you decide that you want to do travel nursing for the money, certain agencies may be better for that. 

The first category we're going to cover is the bigger agency. So bigger agencies are great because they have a wide variety of different clients and different hospitals to choose from.

The bigger agencies will have certain hospitals, which they call "exclusive", which means that that hospital will only take travel nurses from that agency. 

Once you get comfortable with travel nursing, you may branch out to the bigger agencies because you may not need as much of that nurturing aspect that smaller ones may offer.

Another great thing about the smaller agencies is that they can tweak your money a little bit differently than the bigger agencies. Sometimes you can get more money out of the smaller agencies. They're just more on your side ... you feel like you can trust them a little bit more.

Bigger agencies are great because they have more locations to offer and they have great exclusive offers as well. A con is that they don't have the intimate feeling that a lot of the smaller agencies have, and many times you can feel like just a number. The smaller agencies give you that intimate feeling from the recruiter which makes them more trustworthy and then many times they can be a little bit more flexible with even the money. Cons of small are the locations are fewer - many times the smaller agencies don't have all the locations you want. 

Some agencies specialize in quick gigs - they get nurses in and out. Most of their assignments are 48-hour work weeks. You know for nurses, we usually do 36 hours a week with them. You do 48 hours a week, so you're working four days a week, and you're making more money. Some of their assignments are six weeks long. They have a lot of variety, including those specializing in Specialties such as Dialysis. 

I recommend working with these smaller to mid-size agencies, and also, even if you have two recruiters, you have really good relationships with relationships that are key in this industry. 

So, finding recruiters that you have a trusting relationship with people that you just mesh well with that's really key. And maybe having two or three recruiters that you have those great relationships with. 

But I also suggest researching local agencies in the area that you want to travel to and contacting them. Start by interviewing them to get to know them to see what kind of contracts they have that would be beneficial to you. 

Remember, agencies can't have contracts in every single state, with every single Hospital in the state and every single facility in the state. There's no way all agencies will offer all possible different perks and benefits.  Some agencies will have support staff, so you'll have all of the recruiter's attention compared to other agencies where the recruiter has to do everything, so you might get smaller amounts of their attention. 

In conclusion, when choosing a travel nursing agency, it's important to consider the pay packages, reimbursements, and the relationship with your recruiter. Do your research on the agency and read what other travel nurses have to say about their experiences. Consider whether you prefer a larger or smaller agency, and look for agencies that specialize in your area of interest. Keep in touch with your chosen agencies to stay up to date on their offerings and opportunities.

There's just a lot to think about!

My photoAnthony Colón RN