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Travel Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals

Updated on August 8, 2017
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Chris has spent 26 years in laboratory work and has had personal experience with cancer, alcoholism and Willis-Eckbom Disease (RLS).

Travel Healthcare Prefessionals

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Travel Nurses and Other Healthcare Workers

When hospitals and other healthcare facilities find themselves in the position of having more work than healthcare workers, they often turn to travel healthcare professionals such as travel nurses, travel medical technologists, travel radiology technicians, travel physical therapists, travel occupational therapists, travel respiratory therapists, and more. This article discusses What a travel healthcare worker is, how to be come a travel nurse or other kind of travel healthcare worker, companies which place travel healthcare workers, pay and other travel healthcare worker issues.

The Demand for Travel Healthcare Professionals

The United States spent about three trillion dollars on healthcare in 2013 and costs will continue to rise at about 4% per year well into the future. One of the results of The Affordable Care Act will be more people insured and therefore more people seeking treatment. The demand for healthcare workers of all kinds remains high. But many healthcare facilities are having a hard time filling positions in many of their departments. There just aren’t enough healthcare professionals to meet all the needs.

When hospitals and other healthcare facilities find themselves in the position of having more work than healthcare workers, they often turn to travel healthcare professionals such as travel nurses, travel medical technologists, travel radiology technicians, travel physical therapists, travel occupational therapists, travel respiratory therapists, and more.

Travel healthcare professionals are individuals who contract with a healthcare facility to fill the position for which they are qualified, for an agreed upon amount of time.

Where to Find a Travel Healthcare Position

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Poll: Are you a Healthcare Professional?

Are you a healthcare professional?

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Healthcare Professions Which Utilize Travelers

If you are a healthcare professional, chances are that travelers are used in your particular discipline. This article would be much longer if an exhaustive list were to be included. Simply go to your search engine and type in “Traveler” or “Travel” followed by the name of your healthcare profession. For example, type in “Traveler histology technician.” There will be two and a half million results in Google. Type in “Travel nurse” and there will be 117 million results.

Once you have determined that there are travelers involved in your healthcare profession, it is time to look into which travel healthcare agencies you will contact.

How do I Pick a Travel Healthcare Agency?

First of all, you will likely pick more than one agency at the beginning. You will want to talk with recruiters about benefits and pay as well as the extent of their involvement with your profession. Not all travel healthcare agencies do an equally good job with all of the healthcare disciplines they promote.

Go online and try to find a blog or bulletin board about travelers in your profession. Ask what companies they recommend.

Talk to people where you currently work or where you have worked in the past. One or more of them may have done travel work or may know a traveler. Find out what companies they have dealt with and if they were satisfied.

Free documentation license-https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:GNU_Free_Documentation_License,_version_1.2
Free documentation license-https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:GNU_Free_Documentation_License,_version_1.2 | Source

Poll: Travel Healthcare Professionals

Are you, or have you ever been a travel healthcare professional?

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How the Process Works

Most travel healthcare professionals seek the assistance of a travel healthcare agency. Initially these agencies are contacted by healthcare facilities who are in need of someone to temporarily fill a position in one of their departments.

The travel healthcare agency then contacts individuals who have either worked for them in the past or have filled out applications to work with the agency when positions become available. The travel healthcare agency guides the potential travel healthcare professional through all the paperwork, making sure they meet all the requirements to be a traveling healthcare professional in their particular discipline. Licensure for particular States may need to be obtained before being allowed to work there.

When all requirements have been met, the agency presents the resume of the potential traveler to the facility.

The healthcare facility chooses from among the resume’s which healthcare professionals they will interview.

After an interviewee has been chosen by the facility, the travel healthcare agency works with the facility to develop a contract which both the facility and the travel healthcare professional will sign.

The traveler reports for work on the assigned day and fulfills the requirements of the contract for the contract period which is normally thirteen weeks. The facility may ask the traveler to stay beyond the first contract period if they have not been able to hire a permanent employee. This is referred to as extending or as an extension. If a traveler is asked to extend then a new contract is created. The traveler is never obligated to agree to an extension.

During the contract period, the travel healthcare professional is not an employee of the facility. He or she is an employee of the travel agency. Timecard information is sent to the agency who then pays the travel healthcare professional for their work. The healthcare facility pays the agency for the services of the travel healthcare professional.

Travel Pay is Very Good

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How the Travel Healthcare Professional is Paid

The travel healthcare professional is paid in several different ways.

  1. Hourly pay
  2. Housing
  3. Per Diem
  4. Vehicle
  5. Travel to and from the assignment.

The work of a travel healthcare professional can be very lucrative. It can also be much less lucrative. It all depends on the expectations of the traveler in terms of housing and transportation.

Housing: There are two ways to be paid for housing, Per Diem Housing, which is tax free and Housing Allowance, which is taxable. The traveler can choose to let the travel agency find a place for them to live during their contract period. If the traveler chooses this path, the agency will most likely spend all of the housing money, meaning the traveler will probably have a very nice place to live. On the other hand, if the traveler wants to find their own housing, they will be given the entire housing allowance each month. If they choose to find living arrangements that do not require the entire housing allowance, they keep what is not spent. This is a key way for a traveler to increase their take home pay. Less expensive housing possibilities include the following:

  • Renting a bedroom that also provides restroom and kitchen privileges.
  • Renting an efficiency apartment.
  • Finding someone who wants to share an apartment.
  • Renting a basement apartment or an apartment over a garage.
  • Renting an apartment in an extended stay facility.

Per Diem pay (tax free): This is an amount that the travel agency provides to the traveler to cover incidental expenses. If the traveler wants to be careful with their spending, much of this amount can be saved because what is not spent is kept by the traveler.

Vehicle allowance (taxable): If the traveler wishes, the agency will pay for a rental car for the entire contract period. If the traveler has their own vehicle, the agency will pay them a generous amount for gasoline and maintenance. What is not spent, is kept by the traveler.

Hourly pay (taxable): The agency will negotiate with the facility for a per hour amount. Keep in mind, this is taxable income. There are two payment categories that are non taxable. If you travel, consider keeping your hourly pay as low as possible and putting that money in either the housing or per diem accounts.

Travel reimbursement: The agency will pay you for travel to and from the assignment. This can be by purchasing a plane ticket or by reimbursing you for gasoline and motel expenses. If you drive, you will have your own car during the assignment along with a set amount of pay for gasoline throughout the assignment. So consider driving to the location of your assignment rather than flying at the agency’s expense. Since the flight money would otherwise come to you, you are actually buying your own plane ticket. There may be a cap on how much the agency will reimburse you for gasoline for both the trip to and the trip from your assignment.

Requirements and Prerequisites for Becoming a Traveling Healthcare Professional

Licenses and certifications should all be in hand when applying to a travel healthcare agency. Many travel healthcare professionals will be required to have valid/current CPR certification.

Have professional references already in place. This will be one of the first things a travel healthcare agency will ask you to provide.

Get all immunization records ready to fax/email to the travel agency. Make sure you have had all three Hepatitis B vaccine shots and be able to verify.

Tips for Working in a Healthcare Facility as a Traveling Healthcare Professional.

The right way to do your job is the way they do it in the facility you are working in as a traveler. No matter how long you have worked in your profession, there is always more to learn. Going in with a know-it-all attitude will not make your time at the facility very enjoyable for anyone.

Be aggressive at getting orientation classes, computer training and other such details out of the way quickly so that you can do the job the facility is paying you to do. Keep in mind that they would not have hired a traveler if they had other choices. They pay a lot for the services of a traveler and should receive a lot in return.

Expectations of travelers are high. Be on your toes and do your job to the best of your ability.

Tips for Applying to a Travel Healthcare Agency

Be prepared for a mountain of paperwork when you begin working for a travel healthcare agency. Even after you have worked for a while, if you change agencies, the paperwork will all have to be redone. When applying to a new travel agency, it is advisable to have a computer, printer, scanner and fax machine available at home. This will make the whole process go much more quickly.

Before signing a contract, be sure that the pay meets your expectations and that the location is someplace you really would like to visit for a prolonged period of time.

Do Your Homework In Regard to Housing

If you do your homework, you may find affordable housing with some very special amenities.
If you do your homework, you may find affordable housing with some very special amenities. | Source
And if you don't do your homework.......
And if you don't do your homework....... | Source

Finding a Good Place to Live During Your Assignment

Have references ready for potential landlords. Personal references and and references from past landlords would be helpful.

Here are a few resources for finding a place to rent during your assignment:

  • Craig’s List
  • Realtors
  • The HR department of the healthcare facility where you will be working.
  • The travel healthcare agency with whom you will be traveling.
  • Local, online classifieds
  • Friends and relatives living in the area you will be visiting.
  • Facebook and Google+ friends who may have contacts in the area you will be visiting.

Author's Photos from Travel Assignments

Blodget Canyon, Bitterroot Valley, Montana
Blodget Canyon, Bitterroot Valley, Montana | Source
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park, Montana | Source
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA | Source

What to do With your Free Time While on an Assignment

You will want to ask yourself why you have chosen the location where you will work. Is it a big city, rural, small town? What will you do with all the free time you will have on your hands? One thing you will discover quickly is that you don’t have all the things demanding your time that you have while at home. It would be a good idea to look into the areas where you have possible travel job leads. Here are a few things to consider about your temporary home.

  • Museums
  • Theatre
  • Nature
  • Nightlife
  • Festivals
  • History and historical sites
  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Camping
  • Mountain biking
  • Road biking
  • Day trips
  • Weekend trips

Poll: Are You Seriously Considering Becoming a Traveler?

Has this article caused you to seriously consider becoming a traveler?

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How to Deal With Being Away from Family and Friends

  • Skype/Google Hangouts/FaceTime
  • Have someone come join you for a few days so you can show them the sites
  • Email
  • Facebook-Post photos of all your adventures. Your friends will love being able to take part in your travels.
  • Create a blog

About the Author

My name is Chris Mills. I have worked in the healthcare industry since 1984. In 2001 I became certified as a Histology Technician and worked in that capacity at a hospital in northern Michigan for eleven years. In 2012 I made the decision to retire from that facility and begin life as a traveling histology technician. My experiences professionally and as a visitor to some very awesome places have enriched my life greatly. I currently work with Aureus Medical Group and recommend them highly.

If you are interested in becoming a traveler, say so in the comment area below and we can communicate more if you'd like.

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    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      cecileportilla, look what I found! An old comment that I never responded to. Forgive me for missing it. I'm glad you found the article interesting and helpful.

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Hi Cam8510:

      Just found this nice hub. I worked as a travelling nurse in New York some time ago. Really enjoyed it because it was close to home and allowed me to return home every night yet still have the title of traveler. I like being on the road. I like you tips regarding housing.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Deb, my pleasure. Most of the time it is a blast. It has its moments though when I miss home. I'll get back there for a few weeks in the spring. Thanks for reading.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sounds like an interesting way in which to live and work, especially if you like a to of change. Thanks for sharing what you do for a living.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Ruby, I've been traveling for almost nine months. It has been a great experience and yes, the money is very good. I'll keep doing it for a few years. I have some plans and the money will help them become a reality. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I did not know you were in the medical field. I worked as a traveling nurse in the 80's in Houston, Tex. I did not leave Houston. I worked at different hospitals, wherever they needed me. I enjoyed the experience. My income was much more than being a regular R.N. staff nurse, and i enjoyed meeting new people and learning from them. Great tips for anyone looking to go into that sort of healthcare. I had friends who worked per diem. They would travel and work twelve hour shifts three days, usually Fri., Sat., and Sun., then they would have four days off to be with their family, plus they made BIG bucks....

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Hi Christine, I appreciate you reading this hub. It is long and not terribly interesting to someone not involved in the healthcare industry. I don't expect a lot of traffic from HubPages, but I really posted it for Google. Right now, for at least one way of searching, it is first page, second from the top. So I'm hoping it does well out there on the search engines. Thanks again for all the helpful feedback.

    • profile image

      pochinuk 3 years ago

      I really enjoyed this article from beginning to end.

      "… how the… what to do… tips for… how to deal…"

      Instructive information presented logically from a successor as a travel healthcare professional..

      You have gone from "facility" to "life on the road" and can take the stage on this subject.

      Good notations throughout: Personal life, leisure, housing, employment application, wages are mandatory items for the backpack, so to speak, when taking one's occupation on the road.

      Your Closing Bio: A just resolution to a fine hub.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Bill, My first travel assignment was in one of those remote places you spoke of. Western Montana will always have a special place in my mind. Now it's Philadelphia and what a difference. It has taken me six weeks to even begin to get comfortable in this environment. But I am making progress. Every day it is a challenge to look at individuals and not a a mass of humanity. There are lessons to learn here.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      If I were in this field, which I'm not, I would love to work in a remote location and travel from town to town dispensing healthcare....a little payment here...a little bartering there....the simple life helping people and building community. Thanks for delivering me to a reflective place. :)