15 Things That Frustrate Travel Nurses Image

15 Things That Frustrate Travel Nurses

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The benefits of travel nursing are well known and it’s fair to say that the vast majority of travel nurses are very happy with their job and the unique lifestyle it entails. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s all sunshine and daydreams. So in this blog post, we’ll take a close look at 15 things that frustrate travel nurses.

We found quotes from various social media sites for each of the listed issues. The quotes are identified by a blue line to the left of the quoted text. Additionally, it’s important to note that we previously wrote an article titled “14 Ways Recruiters Betray The Trust of Travel Nurses“. It’s safe to say that all the items on the trust list are also items that annoy travel nurses. But we’re not going to reiterate those here. Instead, we’re focusing on items that annoy travel nurses, but may not necessarily betray their trust.

Lack of Detail About Travel Nursing Jobs

When I now receive calls from certain agencies I cringe with disgust because I’ve become all too familiar with the phone games, and the manner in which I have to practically beg certain recruiters for pay and assignment information. Also, recruiters who claim to have absolutely NO knowledge about a facility is a huge red flag.

According to our survey of travel nurses, the two most important things for travelers when they’re considering an assignment are pay and location. Of course, they’ll also want to know at least something about the facility in question.

What possible excuse could a recruiter have for not being able to deliver these basic informational needs? I’ve heard all sorts of excuses. Here are some examples:

  • Pay rates take too long to calculate and discuss.
  • Sometimes, recruiters don’t have the bill rate, so they can’t provide the pay rate.
  • Even smaller agencies can work with over a thousand hospitals. How can a recruiter know something about every single one?
  • Travel nurses can learn everything they need to know about the hospital during the interview.
  • As a recruiter, I have to make a certain number of calls per day and I don’t have time for lengthy conversations.

While there is a kernel of truth to all of these excuses, they are still nothing but excuses. If you have a qualified travel nursing candidate on the phone, then building rapport with them should be one of your top priorities. Taking the time to answer their questions is the only way to accomplish this. As a recruiter you’re guaranteed to achieve positive results as long as you are on the phone providing exceptional service to qualified candidates.

The only valid reason for not providing a compensation quote is if you do not have the bill rate, which should be very rare. You can probably learn enough about a hospital by simply visiting the American Hospital Directory and the Hospital’s website while on the phone with the traveler.

At the same time, travelers should be aware of some of the difficulties recruiters face with these issues. First, recruiters may not be able to quickly obtain a perfectly accurate estimate of housing costs in the area. It’s not as simple as looking up some prices on Rent.com.

Also, while recruiters certainly should be able to provide some details about the hospital and location, highly specific details may be very difficult to come by. For example, how much support staff is available on the unit, or how scheduling is handled, may be better left for the interview. Remember, it’s often impossible for the agency to contact unit managers directly these days thanks to Vendor Management Services.

Receiving Too Many Calls

Too many phone calls!! If I’m not working for you and I haven’t returned your call then don’t call again. I’ll call YOU if I’m looking for a job.

How do you get companies to stop calling ALL THE TIME??? It’s worse than telemarketers!! I AM NOT INTERESTED, if I need something, I will call you!! ARGH!!!

As we’ve mentioned previously, travel nursing agencies often require their recruiters to make a minimum number of telephone calls per day. We’ve also discussed how travel nurses can protect their privacy. Finally, if you’re a travel nurse who is getting inundated with unwanted calls or is receiving calls from recruiters at inopportune times, then this article on how to stop and manage unwanted calls may be beneficial.

Being Called By Random Travel Nursing Companies

Calling and emailing me to try and recruit me when I never even contacted them.

Receiving calls from random agencies that you have never been in contact with is a unique subset of the previous issue, receiving too many calls. There a two common ways that your contact information is released to companies that you’ve never contacted.

The first involves travel nursing lead generators. These are websites that offer to send your information to “the best travel nursing agencies” in order to save you time and get agencies competing for you. These services often sell your contact information to over 20 different agencies. Some of these services allow you to select which agencies your information will be sent to. However, they still sell it to every agency they work with. We know because we’ve tested it!

The second involves popular job boards like Indeed and Monster. When you upload your resume to these services, your data is searchable. It can be obtained by agencies. It can also be obtained by Data Miners who specialize in selling leads to third parties. Not a week goes by that some Data Miner doesn’t send me a message on LinkedIn asking if I’d like to purchase a “fresh list” of healthcare professional contact information.

Negotiating Travel Nursing Pay

Come at me with best offer. Don’t barter with me.

Can recruiters just be real with us and post the rate offered in their post of what is available for simplicity sake? Unless you have things to hide just be real with us and let us know what is available and what the company is offering.

I personally just don’t want to haggle. If my part of the bill rate equals 22k, then there you have it. Sometimes it fells like my cut should be 22k yet you have recruiters that start the bid at 20k, until they find out that doesn’t work for you then all of a sudden you arrive at 22k.

Frustration with the negotiation process is totally understandable. Unfortunately, negotiating compensation is always necessary in travel nursing, as it is with most jobs. And when the market is hot, like it is now, negotiating becomes extremely important.

Why? Because bill rates increase dramatically during times like this. As a result, the gap between what travel nurses typically work for and what agencies are able to pay given a higher bill rate can be quite large. So agencies have a lot of leeway to work with. As a traveler, your goal is to negotiate up to the maximum level.

It’s important to note that the bill rate for every contract has not increased. Instead, there are more contracts with “crisis rates” which are increased bill rates designed to get travelers on board quickly.

It’s also important to remember that negotiating compensation is required for the vast majority of jobs. In fact, the higher you climb on the income ladder, the more you need to negotiate. So it’s a sign of career health that travel nurses need to be negotiators.

If you’re interested in discovering how to enhance your negotiating skills, then you can get a copy of our free eBook on how to negotiate the best travel healthcare compensation packages.

Getting Telephone Calls While Sleeping

When I say I work straights nights and late afternoon is best and they still call at 9/10am. Boo! Don’t wake me up!

Even good travel nursing recruiters will make the occasional mistake and call their night shift nurses at inopportune times. Recruiters have call requirements and the tools available to help them manage this kind of thing are limited. Some travel nursing recruiters don’t even care and just fire away!

I certainly sympathize with travel nurses on this one. I would be livid if people were calling me at 3am in the morning. That’s why I turn my ringer off. But that’s not an option for most people.

The good news is that there are smart phone apps that can help you solve this problem. If you have an Android, then you can use Mr. Number Block. If you have an iPhone, then you can use Call Bliss. Both apps allow you to apply settings to specific telephone numbers. You can even apply settings to entire area codes. For example, you can set selected numbers to go straight to voice-mail. Problem solved!

Travel Nursing Slums?

My recruiter last year told me “all our travelers stay at the motel 6 and love it”. No kitchen, broke down and dirty. I asked her if she could live there for 3 months. I heard crickets.

Motel 6?! Wow…During the recent recession, bill rates for travel nurses took a big hit. As a result, agencies had less money to work with. This often meant that if the agency provided even decent housing, then there wouldn’t be enough money left over to offer an attractive pay package.

Now that the economy is strong again and bill rates are making a comeback, this should be less of a problem. However, it certainly still exists. Housing is typically the largest cost involved with a compensation package aside from the taxable hourly rate.

Despite that, agencies should do everything possible to find and vet good housing options for their travelers. Failure to do so will almost certainly end in disaster for the agency. Travelers post pictures on social media for thousands to see. On the flip side, they also post images of beautiful housing which can have a positive impact for the agency.

Working With Travel Nursing Agency Support Staff

After getting me a contract giving me to your assistant, so not cool and I don’t wanna hear from them!!!

Every agency is different. However, in my experience, only the smallest of agencies have no support staff whatsoever. As soon as an agency begins to grow they begin to divide the tasks in order to maximize efficiency.

It’s fairly common for agencies to have travelers work with representatives who are focused strictly on the credentialing process. It would be very difficult for an agency to thrive if they made their recruiters responsible for all aspects of the process.

That said, it can certainly become annoying for travelers when they are completely passed off to another representative, or team of representatives, once the contract has been signed. This often requires the traveler to build rapport from scratch and explain things for a second or even third time. Service-minded agencies understand this and organize their service delivery accordingly.

Travel Nursing Bait and Ditch?

Being told “I have plenty of needs in that state.” Then I pay money and get the license there only not to be heard from again.

This actually happens more frequently than it may seem. Many recruiters are so desperate to get travelers to complete documentation that they will say anything. Sometimes, agencies consider completed paperwork when evaluating a recruiter’s job performance which gives the recruiter even more incentive to get the documentation completed.

To be fair, it is possible that the recruiter in this case did have jobs in that state, but the market dried up by the time the license was secured. However, if that were the case, then the recruiter would have a huge incentive to stay in contact with the traveler because that market could heat up at a moment’s notice.

Recruiters should remember that it’s almost always a waste of their time to bait and ditch or even bait and switch. They would be much better served by sourcing and focusing on candidates that they could indeed find jobs for.

Being Pitched Travel Nursing Jobs Not On The List

Asking me to go places not on the list annoys me….lol

It’s funny, because we actually covered this one from the side of the recruiter in our blog post titled 15 Ways That Travel Nurses Compromise The Trust Of Recruiters. It’s certainly understandable that travelers get frustrated by this. However, anyone who has been recruiting for more than a year has undoubtedly had a traveler accept an assignment that wasn’t “on the list” with another agency. As soon as that happens to a recruiter, they are compelled to pitch any assignment that someone is qualified for regardless of location.

FaceBook Friend Requests From Travel Nursing Recruiters

FB friending me won’t help. I won’t friend you if I know you’re a recruiter unless you’re MY recruiter or FRIEND outside of FB.

Ugg!!! Recruiters FB friending me!!!

I saw a study once that indicated over 65% of Registered Nurses have a Facebook account. That was quite a few years back, so the number is probably higher now.

At some point, it became popular for travel nurses to use Facebook groups to exchange information about the industry and provide support for one another. Of course, agencies and recruiters will follow travel nurses anywhere they go, so recruiters began joining and participating in the groups too. This made it possible for recruiters to easily find travel nurses on Facebook and the friend requests began.

The problem is that Facebook is a social networking platform. It’s fair to say that most people prefer to keep their professional and social lives separate. But using Facebook Groups to discuss career related matters blurs those lines.

That said, Facebook does have rules regarding Friend Requests. Facebook “recommends” that you know someone personally in real life before sending them a request on Facebook. To police this recommendation, Facebook allows users to flag unwanted friend requests.

Flagged users could potentially be blocked from sending friend requests in the future. However, if the two users have mutual friends in common, then flagging doesn’t have the same power. And because almost everyone in the industry has at least 1 mutual connection, flagging typically doesn’t solve the problem.

All that said, it is certainly understandable that travelers get frustrated with friend requests from unknown recruiters. Recruiters really should abide by the rules. At the same time, this is one of the many undesired consequences of mixing social and professional life.

Impersonal Contact From Travel Nursing Recruiters

Being called by the wrong name…..or not remembering my preferences. Basically feeling like a number.

Getting called by the wrong name and having recruiters forget your preferences can certainly be frustrating. This should be very rare if you are on contract with the recruiter or have worked extensively with them in the past.

With that in mind, it’s good to know that managing these items can be quite difficult on the recruiter’s end. Recruiters must typically work with many different travelers to get just one of them on contract. It’s fair to say that most recruiters will build at least a minimum relationship with over 200 potential candidates per year.

The systems that help recruiters keep track of the information are quite limited. You see, recruiters are often required to make a minimum number of calls per day. The minimums can be as high as 100. There isn’t time to review a profile before calling. Instead, calls are made until someone answers. Then, the recruiter has to piece everything together on the fly.

Emails are fairly similar. It’s pretty rare for a recruiter to send an email to a single individual unless they are actively engaged in a job search together. Instead, recruiters typically send mass emails that may seem personalized because they include your name. However, your name is there by virtue of the email software used to send the mass email.

Receiving Travel Nursing Robocalls

Automated call saying “sorry i missed you” and you answered the phone!!

Personally, I hate robocalls with a passion. I’m not sure why any agency would utilize them. Besides, it’s against the law to place robocalls to someone unless they’ve provided their express written consent to receive them.

Being Marginalized By Hospital Staff

Kaiser Registered Nurses Do Not Like Travel Nurses Image

Apparently, this flier was posted in a break-room at a Kaiser facility. It appears to be put out by the California Nurses Association. Whether or not such arguments have merit is a complex issue that warrants it’s own article. However, the simple response is that the hospital doesn’t have a need for a full-time permanent employee, that’s why they’re enlisting a traveler.

The important thing here is that activities like this are designed to marginalize travel nurses from the rest of the team which can be very frustrating. While this is a particularly overt example, it is indicative of an attitude that prevails in some facilities.

Being Treated Unfairly By Hospital Staff

So, I started my new gig last week. During orientation, the nurse educator introduced me by saying, “be nice, travel nurses are assigned the most and the worst patients, be sure to include her in your social activities”. I thought she was kidding until my first day on the floor when I was assigned SEVEN high acuity patients, more than all the other nurses. The CRN confirmed to me, “that’s how we use travel nurses”.

Here again, this is just baffling. This is bad for morale and, more importantly, bad for patient care. By singling out certain individuals for harsher treatment, the nurse manager is instilling that culture within her team. The team will ultimately end up exhibiting this behavior with their own team members.

Moreover, the manger is establishing an environment in which patient care is not the top priority. While this travel nurse may be the most experienced and strongest nurse on the team, treating her this way increases risk nonetheless. This manager clearly isn’t thinking of patient safety. Moreover, this exposes the hospital to liability.

Meanwhile, the travel nurse’s license could be in jeopardy. Therefore, this is definitely the type of issue that should brought to the attention of your recruiter. If nothing happens, escalate the issue to an agency manager or until you get to the CEO of the agency if you have to.

Agencies should be doing everything in their power to bring such issues to the attention of the hospital’s senior management. I’m fairly certain that this isn’t hospital approved policy. And if it is, the agency should consider terminating business with the hospital. It’s bad for the agency’s travelers and it exposes the agency to liability as well.

Travel Nursing Paperwork

FIRING 2 companies! am tired of their Prophecy Clinical Assessment! What company can you guys recommend  that doesn’t have these tests?

There should be a way to make it easier to apply or sign up with new companies. Most travelers I talk to who are thinking of switching won’t sometimes because of all the time and paperwork. Especially when you are just exploring your options, it’s really a pain in the behind.

We couldn’t agree more! That’s why we created BluePipes to help travelers avoid paperwork and help agencies onboard travelers more quickly. Travelers are able to create their own resumes, skills checklists and full job applications. Together, these are all the agency really needs to get the traveler submitted for an assignment they’re interested in.

Travelers can also upload copies of their clinical documentation documentation. They can then send selected documents to any agency they want. There are even over 25 agencies that have contacted us to let us know they accept the BluePipes documents in lieu of completing the agency’s documentation.

As always, we hope you enjoyed this article and we’d love to hear about your experiences with these issues or any we missed! Please post in the comments section below.

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1 reply
  1. mesmerize says:

    I’m just starting my first travel job. I’m a good psych RN with 30 years varied experience. Already, the 2 day orientation is a problem. To learn all that I need to in 2 days ( both trainers excellent but didn’t have the time they needed to do all the training I need/ didn’t have access to the devices I will be using) is not possible. Active psych units, even on nights involving Chem strips and cath flushes ( this is a glucometer that takes more than 8 little steps to get results) assignments, sleep results, meds with a Pyxis/ WOW and of course patient interaction / issues. I was told I would not be alone and would have another nurse to help. I hear from a traveler nurse who was already only RN on a 27 bed unit after she had just started. 2 days is not enough for me. It’s insulting to expect travelers to absorb all. A week at least of orientation is needed. It’s a 13 week assignment but the expectation that all can be learned in 2 days of training by trainers who have a full assignment is wrong. We all know it’s become accepted for nurses in general to be a part of dangerous short staffing and inadequate orientation.

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