Tips to Negotiating The Best Travel Nursing Contracts

As a seasoned travel nurse or a first-timer, you will typically work a 13-week contract at one facility, on one unit, with a compensation package that will vary on several factors, such as:
Type of Facility- Hospital, Medical Center, Clinic, etc.
Region- City, State
Time of year- Winter, Summer, Flu Season, etc.
And Most Important- The Agency you decide to work with! So…..  Be Prepared before you sign!

You need to know how to negotiate the best travel nursing contract that will afford you the most money and the best benefits that are important to you during your contract. As a travel nurse, you have many choices to make so having the right agency and recruiter (with your best interest in mind) will make some of these choices easier. What state/city you desire to work, time of year, what shift, and coming to an agreement on your overall contract details and compensation package.

Your specialty area, years of experience, education level, nursing certifications, and other credentials will be considered when an agency recruiter is working with you on contract terms and packages in your new contract. So how do you know if you are getting the best? Below you’ll find a how-to guide for negotiating the best travel nursing contracts.

Here are some great tips that can help you begin negotiating the best travel nursing contracts:

Figure Out Your Pay Rate

Do you know how your agency gets paid? Understanding this part of the travel nursing process is important to understand how you yourself get paid. In short, your agency holds a contract with each health facility that ultimately determines how much travel nurses are paid.

The rate itself is permanently fixed, so no negotiating prowess will make much difference here. However, knowing that number helps you understand how your agency works: they take that permanent dollar amount and break it down into your hourly pay rate, non-taxable reimbursements for housing and meals, your benefits, stipends/incidentals, and your travel reimbursement as well as for their own personal cut.

When you know that permanent dollar number, you already know the amount you can negotiate and what you cannot. Figuring out your pay rate is a key first step in negotiating the best travel nursing contracts.

Make Sure Your Agency Fights For You

If you are a newer travel nurse, you could be at a bit of a disadvantage. When you’re starting out, you don’t yet have a relationship with a recruiter, which could mean you have to do a lot of figuring for yourself.

Be patient, though! As time goes on you will naturally establish relationships with the different agencies you work with. Until then, the best way to negotiate your compensation in a travel nursing contract is to compare agency pay rates. By comparing rates, you can likely tell the agency you prefer to work with the rates of their competitors. If the agency really wants to bring you on, you have a better chance of negotiating your salary if they know another agency with better pay is on your radar. To be clear, this negotiation strategy is best used when you’re new to the game. As time goes on, you won’t need to do this very often.

Be Willing to Move On

Sometimes part of negotiating the best nursing contract means you’re willing to say “no” and move on. When you understand how you get paid you’ll know when you aren’t being offered what you’re worth.

If you think you should be making more, should be reimbursed for certain expenses, or should have more flexibility, your first step is to ask your agency. If they deny you, you have to be okay with saying “no” to working with that particular agency and instead look at the hundreds of others there are to choose from.

Get The Right Information

We get it sometimes there are some questions that are awkward to ask in the professional setting. When it comes to money, asking how much you can earn, what your reimbursements look like, and other financial questions, no matter how necessary they are, can feel a little weird. You don’t want to seem like someone in it only for the money, but the bottom line is that your payment and reimbursement packages are important and should be addressed.

Be sure to ask all the questions you have so that you are as informed as you can possibly be. Fortunately, some of the stigmas behind talking about money are lifting, so agencies are as ready to chat as you are. Further, it costs money to bring new nurses into an agency, so many institutions are quick to offer reimbursements to boost retention. Take advantage of this and get the information you require for an informed decision!

Know All the Ins and Outs of Your Contract

This tip applies directly to extension bonus options. If you accept a contract and find that you want to extend it, you need to ask for an extension bonus as soon as you can. Medical facilities like hospitals and clinics usually clarify whether or not they even offer extension bonuses in their contracts, so keep this in mind when planning where you want to work. If you intend to stay somewhere for a while, be sure to ask your recruiter or the hospital itself if they offer extension bonuses and go from there.

Be An Ambassador

Part of the travel nursing game is making yourself as valuable to your agency as you possibly can. One way to do this is to become an ambassador for your agency by referring your friends and colleagues to them. Travel recruiting is a competitive market, so when you send along great candidates you’re doing your agency a huge favor.

This seemingly simple act is great for the recruiter, for your friends, colleagues, and for you because it shows your agency that you are both valuable and loyal.  In addition to referring great candidates to your agency, you can also act as an agency ambassador. This means you fill out positive reviews for the agency online, spread the word about the agency using word of mouth, social media, and other outlets, and just talk them up as much as you can.

When you hold a certain amount of value with your travel nursing agency, they are more likely to work with you during the negotiation process. The more valuable you are, the more you can expect your agency to react favorably to your compensation demands and negotiations.

Stay Organized

Part of being a working professional is staying organized and on top of your paperwork. As a travel nurse, organization skills are crucial for success and paperwork is important for smooth contract negotiations.

Paperwork is a nightmare for everyone, but especially travel agencies. Start dates don’t always work, contracts get canceled, paperwork doesn’t get turned in, and there are tons of consequences.

If you make a point to be organized in all areas, chances are your agency will remember how prompt and efficient you are when it comes time for negotiations. Remember, you can make yourself valuable in many ways!

Negotiating the best travel nursing contracts can be tricky at times, but these tips should help make the process a success. By being prepared for the negotiating process you can help ensure that you get a travel nurse contract that is financially rewarding, beneficial for you and your agency, and best tailored to your needs.

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