How to Choose a Travel Company
The time has come. You’re ready to take your career on the road and explore the world of travel nursing. As you begin to investigate the possibilities, choosing the right travel company is a pivotal first step — and not all companies are created equal. No matter which one you eventually choose, American Mobile has assembled a team of experienced travel professionals and recruiters to clue you in to what to look for.
The Recruiter Relationship
Once you start talking to travel companies, your most meaningful contact will come in the form of telephone conversations with recruiters. This is where the fun begins. “If you’re considering allied travel, the very first thing I would analyze is the kind of recruiter you have on the phone,” suggested Shawn Farrell, a Regional Director of Recruiting at American Mobile partner company, Med Travelers. “Everybody says first introductions are everything, and I think that’s true.”
“When you talk to a recruiter for the first time, and you’re not comfortable within the first 15 minutes, that’s a big clue that this is not the kind of group you want to go with. By contrast, when you get on the phone and feel good about the answers you’re getting, that’s the key. That’s the kind of recruiter who is most likely going to stick with you for the next few years.”
“Whichever company you go with, you must have that good recruiter relationship,” agreed Christy Morris, COTA, a three-year travel veteran. “Once you get going, your recruiter is your lifeline.
Avoid High Pressure Sales Tactics
Every travel experience should be tailored to suit the needs and desires of the allied clinician. As a strategy is developed, it’s important that the traveler remain clear about what they would like to get out of the experience, rather than allowing the goals of the recruiter to dominate. “Travelers shouldn’t feel pressured, they should feel educated and know what their options are,” Brandi Vines, Med Travelers’ Regional Vice President of Recruiting, confirmed. “The recruiter is there to help guide the process but never dictate it.”
“There are so many options for travelers, so we don’t need to settle,” added traveler Jamie Shuette, who has two and half years of travel under her belt. “Stick to your guns and find [a recruiter] that is willing to work with you; one that’s willing to hear your needs and go out and find that right fit for you. You shouldn’t feel like you’re just taking a position somewhere; you’re growing in your profession.
“[American Mobile] spends a lot of time training our recruiters to be personable and to offer what [travelers] need,” Vines said. “We’re not car salesmen, and we don’t want to push something that’s not right. That is different from what a lot of other agencies put out into the marketplace. A lot of our travelers come to us because they know it’s going to be a mutual relationship, not one-sided.”
The Importance of Transparency
Although travel healthcare offers amazing opportunities, not every assignment is going to be a good match. For this reason, it’s imperative that that your travel company of choice provides detailed information and analysis on all aspects of every potential position. “We‘re not going to sugarcoat anything or try to pull the wool over our clinicians’ eyes,” Med Travelers’ Vines is quick to point out. “They can tell from our conversations that we’re going to be genuine with them and shoot straight. They’re going to get the truth from us, and that type of transparency is essential.”
“Make sure to ask any question you can think of,” suggested traveler Christy Morris. “Even if you think it’s silly or ridiculous. A good recruiter will be happy to answer them and, if they can’t, they’ll find someone who can. You don’t want to blindly walk into your assignment.”
“I look at this way,” said Med Travelers’ Farrell, “Travelers need to work with passionate, committed and — most importantly — ethical (recruiters). When there are good times, we give you a high five; when there are not-so-good times, we help drag you out of the mud and get you back on the horse.”
It’s Not Just a Job…
“If you really stop to think about it,” offered Brent Harrolle, Regional Vice President of Recruitment for Med Travelers, “In the allied world, clinicians work eight hour days. They’re not working 15 or 20 hours so the things they get to do from a personal perspective are, in most cases, just as important as the actual job. Traveling is a lifestyle choice not just a professional choice. So if you want to be an effective recruiter you have to understand the clinician’s life from the moment they wake up and put their feet on the ground to when they put their head back on the pillow at night.”
“We literally spend weeks just teaching our recruiters how to get personal with people and how to ask questions without coming across as too invasive…and we also help them understand how to explain to a traveler why we’re asking these questions. At the end of the day, when my clinicians leave work, I need to make sure that they’re satisfied with their life outside of their job. That requires an understanding of what they want out of their career not only professionally but personally also.”
“It’s really important for clinicians to collaborate with their recruiter and really be clear about what they’re looking for,” Harrolle added. “Communication with the recruiter is key, so we can make sure that we’re matching their professional and personal goals and ensuring they get everything they want to get out of traveling.”
Relationships with Leading Facilities
Although the demand for travel allied clinicians is high, many opportunities are inaccessible to a majority of recruiters. This is due to the fact that several facilities maintain exclusive arrangements with individual travel companies. Thus, when weighing options, it’s important to investigate which ones retain the most relationships with the types of hospitals and clinics that you are interested in.
“Large companies like ours are always going to have the large hospital contracts that no one else can get their hands on,” explained Christina Miner, Director of Recruiting at Med Travelers. “That’s a huge benefit to consider when you’re deciding who you want to go with. We have assignment options in a diversity of settings and more exclusive (facility) accounts than anyone else.”
“The Med Travelers staff is fantastic as far as finding positions,” said physical therapist Jamie Schuette. “I’ve never found another company that has more than they do, and I absolutely love the fact that they try and find what best fits you in terms of settings and situations that will help you grow as a therapist.
“Our relationships with employers are essential,” Med Travelers’ Brandi Vines remarked. “We have multiple travelers that leave other agencies and come to us simply because we have better opportunities based on those relationships.”
Since the relationship between the allied travel professional and their recruiter is utterly essential, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a partner is the long-term stability of the company itself. After all, when taking a travel position, you’ll want to know that your recruiter will see you through the assignment.
“Working with a company like Med Travelers, which is part of AMN Healthcare, is a very smart choice,” said recruiter Shawn Farrell. “I’ve been here for four years, I’ve seen the economy go up and down, and I can’t tell you how many small companies I’ve seen come and go. One of the beautiful things about Med Travelers is that we’re always going to be here. You know that you have a concrete, full-time employer that will take you from one assignment to another.”
AMN Healthcare, the parent company of Med Travelers, is recognized as the healthcare industry’s leading workforce innovator and largest provider of staffing services. “Med Travelers not only has the backing of a tenured, financially stable organization in AMN Healthcare,” Farrell continued, “But we’re also publicly traded. One thing that’s important to me is that we have that joint commission certification. That’s a testament to the quality of what we’re doing internally. If we’re able to obtain that certification, it also speaks to the external services that we provide.”
“We may be a large company,” interjected Director of Recruiting Courtney Croslin, “But you’re not going to get lost. We’re committed to providing top-notch customer service in every regard. If I was a therapist, I would choose to work with a company like Med Travelers because I would know that I could trust them, and there aren’t many companies out there like us. In fact, I would venture to say that there’s no company like us! If you give us a chance, we’ll prove that to you.”