Whether you’re a newcomer to travel nursing or a seasoned veteran, finding the best travel nursing companies to work with is important. Travel nurses count on their agencies to deliver on a broad set of crucial services so wanting to find the best is understandable. The problem is that there is a lot of disparate information on the topic. So in this blog post, we’ll dissect the 2015 “Top Travel Nurse Company” lists from the two most prominent travel nursing rating services.
This blog post was written in 2015. While it is still highly useful, you may also want to review our blog post on the best travel nursing companies for 2016. And better yet, we recommend reviewing our most recent article on the top companies for 2017!
The Problem with General Travel Nursing Agency Reviews and Ratings
There are tons of services out there designed to offer employer ratings, so you may be wondering why we’re focusing on only 2. The answer is that the 2 services we’re focusing on are specific to travel nursing and have a large enough sample size to be relevant.
As a traveler, you have to be careful when relying on review and rating services that aren’t dedicated to travel healthcare. For example, Indeed.com and GlassDoor.com are two prominent providers of employer ratings. In fact, if you do a Google search for: American Mobile Reviews, the top result is from Indeed.com and the fourth result is from GlassDoor. For those that aren’t familiar, American Mobile is the largest travel nursing company in the country.
American Mobile receives 3.5 stars out of 5 on Indeed.com and 3.9 stars out of 5 on GlassDoor.com. The problem is that the company has only 46 reviews on Indeed and 24 reviews on GlassDoor. Moreover, some of those reviews are from the company’s internal employees who aren’t really able to speak about the service the company provides to their travelers.
Meanwhile, American Mobile received 1.7 stars out of 5 on TravelNursingBlogs.com based on 73 reviews. They receive a rating of 46.8 out of a possible 100 on TravelNursingCentral.com and they receive a 12 out of a possible 20 on HighwayHypodermics.com.
We don’t mean to pick on American Mobile. This is just an illustration of how and why ratings can be disparate between general rating services and those specific to travel healthcare. Whether or not to rely on general services is up to each individual, but it’s always helpful to know how such services differ.
Background on the Top Travel Nursing Agency List Providers for 2015
About the Top Company Lists
With that in mind, let’s turn our focus to the two most prominent “Top Agency Lists.” One is put out by TravelNursingCentral.com (TNC) and the other is put out by HighwayHypodermics.com (HH). Each year these services release their lists of top agencies based on reviews they received between January and December of the preceding year. So the lists for 2015 are indications of the reviews that the services received in 2014. Both services are designed to accept reviews from only travel healthcare professionals.
There are also some key differences between the lists. Highway Hypodermics puts out a Top 10 list, but also releases a list of 10 honorable mentions for a total of 20. Highway Hypodermics uses two ranking criteria. First, they average the agency evaluations that are submitted by travel healthcare professionals. The maximum evaluation score is 20.
Second, Highway Hypodermics maintains a “Benefits Score” that awards 1 point for each benefit that an agency offers. 21 different benefits are tracked so the maximum Benefit Score is 21. Highway Hypodermics combines the Benefits and Evaluation scores that an agency receives and then ranks the highest scoring agencies 1 through 20 based on the total score. Finally, in order to qualify, agencies must have received 10 evaluations and have updated their Benefits Questionnaires within the past 3 years.
Highway Hypodermics also maintains an interesting rule for accepting reviews from travel nurses. The website will not accept a negative review from a traveler unless the traveler has also submitted a positive review of another company. Reviews are deemed negative if they receive less than 10 points out of a possible 20. This is a great idea given the fact that people are typically more motivated to submit negative reviews. So this policy ensures that the site has a balance of both negative and positive reviews.
TNC’s list of top agencies includes a total of 12 companies. Rather than ranking them from highest to lowest, TNC categorizes the agencies into Gold, Silver, and Bronze categories. There are four agencies in each category. In order to qualify, the agency must have been voluntarily rated within the last 3 months, must have a company website and must have a total of 15 ratings or more.
The 4 companies that receive the highest evaluation scores are awarded a Gold Rating. The next four are awarded a Silver Rating and the next four are awarded a Bronze rating. TNC does it this way to signify the idea that all of the agencies within a given category should be viewed at the same level. With very few points separating agencies, this makes sense.
TNC does not require that negative reviewers also post a positive review. However, they do encourage users to submit positive reviews.
About the List Providers
TNC was originally founded in the early 2000’s by a travel nurse. The website was purchased in the last couple of years by Medical Solutions, Inc, which is the third largest travel nursing company according to Staffing Industry Analysts. The company maintains that TNC remains an unbiased source of information for travel healthcare professionals.
Highway Hypodermics is owned and operated by Epstein LaRue, BSN, RN. Epstein began travel nursing in 2003 and published the website’s first top 10 list in 2005. She is also the author of Highway Hypodermics, an excellent book about travel nursing. She actively seeks to ensure that the information she receives about travel nursing company benefits is accurate.
Comparing the Best Travel Nurse Company Lists
As mentioned above, Highway Hypodermics releases a Top 10 list and adds another 10 agencies as “Honorable Mentions” for a total of 20 agencies. TNC releases a list of 12 agencies and classifies them in Gold, Silver and Bronze categories with 4 agencies in each category. Below are the top 12 agencies from each list so that we can compare them side by side.
As mentioned above, Highway Hypodermics has 10 honorable mentions, so there are a total of 20 agencies on their list. Below are the agencies that ranked 13-20 on the their list.
- RTG Medical
- Atlas MedStaff
- Medical Solutions
- RN Network
- Trinity Healthcare Staffing
- The Right Solutions
- Emerald Healthcare
Save Time Working With The Best Travel Nursing Companies
The first thing that you’ll notice is that we have highlighted 6 companies on the lists with green text. These companies have verified that they will accept BluePipes job applications, resumes and skills checklists. When you join BluePipes, you’ll be able to create your own applications, resumes and skills checklists and email them to companies at your convenience. This means that one application, one resume, and one skills checklist lets you work with at least 6 of the top rated companies, saving you from spending hours of time completing duplicate paperwork.
Why do we say “at least”? Because these are just the companies that have contacted us directly to let us know they accept BluePipes documents. There are many other companies who accept the documents as well. In fact, you can send your documents to any company you’d like at your convenience. Be sure to view the entire list of verified companies to find many other great agencies that have verified they are simplifying the process for travel nurses.
Observations On The Best Travel Nursing Agency Lists
In our comparison of last year’s Top Agency Lists by TNC and Highway Hypodermics, we found that 5 companies appeared in the Top 12 on both lists. This year, that number has dropped to 4. FlexCare Medical Staffing, TotalMed Staffing, Valley Healthcare Systems and Talemed appear in the top 12 on both lists.
Once again, FlexCare Medical Staffing is the standout. They were ranked number one by Highway Hypodermics last year and received a Gold rating from TNC. This year, they received a Gold Rating from TNC and are ranked number 2 by Highway Hypodermics.
It’s great that there are 4 companies on both lists. That bodes well for these 4 companies. But what about the companies that are on one list but not the other. What can we learn about these companies by reviewing how they ended up ranking on both lists?
Companies on The HH List But Not On The TNC List
First let’s take a look at how the companies that are on HH’s list but not on TNC’s list.
Aya Healthcare is ranked number 3 on Highway Hypodermics’ list of the Top Agencies for 2015. The company has a score of 69 out of a possible 100 on TNC based on 64 reviews. To put that in perspective, the lowest score received by any of the 12 companies on the TNC list was 79.9. So Aya’s 69 is pretty low.
IPI Travel is ranked number 4 on Highway Hypodermics’ list. The company has a score of 82.3 out of a possible 100 on TNC based on 22 reviews. That score would have made IPI Travel a Bronze winner on the TNC list, so the company must not have received a review in the 3 months prior to the list coming out. Again, as mentioned above, to qualify for the TNC list, the company must have received a review within 3 months of TNC compiling the list.
OneStaff Medical is ranked number 5 on Highway Hypodermics’ list. The company has yet to receive a review on TNC. As a result, there is no way to run a comparison.
PHP (Premier Healthcare Professionals)
PHP is ranked number 6 on Highway Hypodermics’ list. The company has a score of 73.6 out of a possible 100 on TNC based on 15 reviews. This score is an indication that PHP is just about average relative to the other companies ranked on TNC.
Core Medical Group
Core Medical Group is ranked number 8 on Highway Hypodermics’ list. The company has a score of 67 out of a possible 100 on TNC based on 23 reviews. This is an indication that Core Medical is below average relative to the other companies ranked on TNC.
PPR Travel Nursing
PPR is ranked number 9 on Highway Hypodermics’ list. The company has a score of 71.3 out of a possible 100 on TNC based on 18 reviews. This is an indication that PPR is slightly below average relative to other companies ranked on TNC.
Cirrus Medical Staffing
Cirrus Medical Staffing is ranked number 11 on Highway Hypodermics’ list. The company has a score of 68.6 out of a possible 100 on TNC based on 22 reviews. This is an indication that Cirrus is below average relative to the other companies ranked on TNC.
Randstad Healthcare is ranked number 12 on Highway Hypodermics’ list. The company has a score of 72.2 out of a possible 100 on TNC based on 4 reviews. This is an indication that that Randstad Healthcare is close to average relative to the other companies on TNC. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Randstad Healthcare was formerly Clinical One. Randstad, a major national staffing firm, purchased Clinical One and changed the name to Randstad Healthcare in 2012.
Clinical One still has ratings posted on TNC. They had received 17 reviews for an average rating of 62.2. So even if we were to consider these ratings, Randstad Healthcare would still be rated fairly low on TNC compared to its rating on Highway Hypodermics.
Summary of Comparison
There are a total of 8 agencies that are on Highway Hypodermic’s list that aren’t on TNC’s list. Five of those companies are ranked below average on TNC (Aya, Randstad, Cirrus, Core Medical and PPR). One of those companies, IPI Travel, would have been ranked on the TNC list if they had received a rating within 3 months prior to the compilation of TNC’s list. One of the companies, OneStaff Medical, hasn’t been rated on TNC. And one of the companies, PHP, has an average ranting on TNC.
Companies On TNC’s List But Not On HH’s List
Now let’s take a look at the companies that are on TNC’s list but are not on HH’s list. Remember, in order to qualify for HH’s list, the agency must have completed a Benefits Questionnaire and must have 10 or more reviews. The maximum points on the Benefits Questionnaire is 21 and the maximum points on reviews is 20. The two scores are combined, so the maximum total score is 41.
Advanced Surgical received a Gold rating on TNC. However, the company has not completed a Benefits Questionnaire on Highway Hypodermics. Moreover, the company has received only 1 review on HH and received 7 points out of a possible 20. That’s really low.
Medical Staffing Solutions, Inc
Medical Staffing Solutions, Inc received a Gold rating on TNC. The company received 15 points out of a possible 21 on its HH Benefits Questionnaire. The company has been reviewed 2 times and is averaging 16.5 points out of a possible 20.
That’s a total of 31.5, which would have placed Medical Staffing Solutions, Inc at number 16 on HH’s top 20 list. However, the company did not receive the minimum 10 reviews, so they did not qualify for the list.
The Right Solutions
The Right Solutions received a Silver rating on TNC. On HH, the company received a score of 17.3 from its reviews and a score of 14 from its Benefits Questionnaire for a total of 31.3. This was good enough to be ranked 18th on HH’s top 20.
Travel Nurse Across America
Travel Nurse Across America received a Silver rating on TNC. On HH, the company received a score of 17 based on 30 reviews, which is really good. They received a total of 13 from the Benefits Questionnaire. That gave them a combined score of 30 which was just below the threshold to get them onto the top 20 list.
So Travel Nurse Across America actually ranks really well on Highway Hypodermics despite the fact that they didn’t make it on the top 20 list. It’s also important to point out that the Benefits Questionnaire is accepted on an “Honor System.” In other words, agencies complete the questionnaire and their answers are accepted in good faith. That said, it’s fairly reasonable to assume that Travel Nurse Across America is an honest company because if they weren’t, then their Benefits score would probably be higher.
Medical Solutions received a Silver rating on TNC. Some people might question this rating based on a conflict of interest because Medical Solutions owns TNC. However, Medical Solutions scores quite well on Highway Hypodermics too.
The company scored an average of 16.6 based on 39 reviews. They received 17 points from the Benefits Questionnaire for a total of 33.6. That was good enough to be ranked 15th on HH’s top 20.
Quest Group received a Silver rating on TNC. The company has not completed a Benefits Questionnaire with HH, so they do not qualify for consideration on the list. However, they have received a total of 13 reviews for an average score of 15.6. That put them in the bottom half of all the agencies reviewed on HH. So, not a very good showing for Quest Group.
Soliant Health received a Bronze rating on TNC. The company got 17 points on their Benefits Questionnaire on HH and they received an average score of 16.3 based on 6 reviews. That’s a combined total of 33.3 which would have been good enough for 16th on HH’s top 20 list. However, companies needed a minimum of 10 reviews to qualify, so Soliant wasn’t included.
Trinity Healthcare Staffing
Trinity Healthcare Staffing received a Bronze rating on TNC. The company received 16 points for the Benefits Questionnaire on HH and an average score of 17.3 based on 23 reviews for a combined score of 33.3. So Trinity was ranked 17th on HH’s top 20 list.
Summary of Comparison
Of the 8 companies that are on TNC’s top 12 list but not in HH’s top 12, 3 made it into HH’s top 20 list (Trinity, Medical Solutions and The Right Solutions). Another 2 would have made it into HH’s top 20, but they didn’t receive enough reviews to qualify (Soliant and Medical Staffing Solutions, Inc). One company scored right outside the top 20 (Travel Nurse Across America).
The last two performed pretty poorly. Of the remaining 2, Advanced Surgical performed very poorly and Quest Group was about average, but neither company submitted a Benefits Questionnaire.
Other Travel Nursing Agencies To Consider Among The Best
As we pointed out above, there are a total of 7 companies on the lists above that will accept your BluePipes resume, application and skills checklist in lieu of requiring you to fill out their documentation. Given that 90% of travel nurses polled do not like filling out applications and skills checklists and 72% said they would be more likely to work with a new agency if they didn’t have to complete this documentation at the outset, we think that agencies who make it easier to work with them deserve a little recognition when discussing the best agencies in the industry.
With that in mind, we took a look at the list of agencies that have verified they will accept your BluePipes documents to see how they stack up. Here are some more considerations when looking for the best companies to work with:
Atlas MedStaff received 4 reviews on TNC with an average score of 97.8!! That would have easily qualified them for Gold. Meanwhile, they were ranked 14th on HH with a combined score of 33.9. Definitely worth your consideration.
Host Healthcare has received 4 reviews on TNC with an average score of 100!! This would easily qualify them for a Gold rating if they had enough reviews. They do not have a review or questionnaire on HH. However, the fact that they have a perfect score on TNC is reason enough to consider them.
Healthcare Pros has received 7 reviews on TNC with an average score of 94.5. This would easily qualify them for a Gold rating if they had received enough reviews. They do not have a review or questionnaire on HH. However, their excellent score on TNC makes them worth considering.
Triage Staffing has received 7 reviews on TNC with an average score of 82.9. That would have qualified them for a Bronze Rating on TNC. They have received 2 reviews on HH for an average score of 19 out of a possible 20 which is excellent. These marks make them worthy of your consideration among the best!
Expedient MedStaff has received 1 review on TNC with a score of 97. Additionally, they received a score of 20 out of a possible 21 on their HH Benefits Questionnaire. Another good thing to know is that their CEO, Mike, is an RN. They strive to make working with them as easy as possible and they have great recruiters. They’re definitely worth your consideration among the best agencies in the business.
Liquid Agents has received 22 reviews on TNC for an average score of 74.3, which is in-line with the average. However, they have received 5 reviews on HH with an average score of 15.2 and they score 18 on the Benefits Questionnaire which gives them a combined score of 32.2. That would be good enough to be in the top 20 if they had enough reviews. Liquid Agents is another solid agency.
That’s an additional 6 agencies, for a total of 13 great agencies, that have received excellent ratings and reviews that will accept your BluePipes documents and save you countless hours of completing paperwork. And remember, there are many more agencies that accept the documents and you can send your documents to anyone at your convenience.
Considerations For Finding The Best Travel Nursing Agencies Using Rating Services
As you can see, there is a lot of crossover between the two lists. That bodes well for the consistency of the rating services. However, there are also plenty of companies that are highly ranked on one list and relatively low on the other. As we’ve pointed out before, there are several advantages and disadvantages to using rating services.
For example, it’s difficult for the services to ensure that reviews aren’t being submitted by agents of the companies being reviewed. Hopefully, the threat of being banned from the rating services is enough of a deterrent to prevent agencies from submitting disingenuous reviews. Additionally, there are a relatively low number of reviews for many agencies. On the flip side, some agencies are clearly really good at prompting their travelers to complete reviews because a few agencies have tons of reviews. However, that shouldn’t be viewed as negative; those agencies are just smarter than the rest.
Perhaps most importantly, the review services can’t tell you where the agencies can staff you. Remember, different agencies have contracts for different hospitals. It’s also common for agencies to have more contracts in certain locations than others. This is why it’s so important to work with as many agencies as possible. It’s the best way to get maximum exposure to the job market so you can get to your desired destinations.
On the flip side, the rating services are definitely a great place to start. Both of these services have their advantages. However, we feel that Highway Hypodermics has an edge. The ability to consider the reviews as well as the benefits that the agencies claim to offer in one location is a huge help. Why call an agency only to find that they don’t offer a benefit that you really want? That makes Highway Hypodermics a “must visit” when researching companies.
We highly encourage you to visit both websites for a more thorough evaluation of the companies that are listed above. There, you will be able to read the reviews in order to see exactly what the agencies have to offer.
As always we’d love to hear about your experiences with this issue or any questions or concerns you might have. Please post them in the comments section below!