As a travel nurse, you're used to taking on new assignments at a moment's notice. You're also accustomed to working with agencies that value your commitment and professionalism.
However, negotiating a contract can sometimes be challenging. Especially when it comes to housing benefits, here are seven tips for navigating your travel nurse housing negotiations:
Know Your Worth
Many travel nurses believe that they are well compensated for their assignments. They are often hired to fill gaps in hospital staffing and may also receive a housing stipend or free private housing.
When agencies advertise the value of their pay packages, they often include all of the non-taxable items such as health insurance, housing stipends/incidentals, and travel reimbursement. This can create a misleading view of the total value of a package.
Negotiating your travel nurse pay package can help you get the most bang for your buck. However, it's essential to consider your bottom line and how the contract will impact your lifestyle before deciding. Remember, you can constantly renegotiate your contract mid-contract. Just make sure to write down any questions you have so that you're prepared.
Many negotiators advise sticking to your bottom line, but this approach can be ineffective when negotiating travel nurse contracts. This is because you could pass on an assignment that doesn't meet your financial bottom line and end up with a $0 salary.
Being flexible when negotiating housing benefits as a travel nurse is essential. For example, if you are a travel nurse who frequently picks up extra shifts, arrange for a contract that allows you to do so.
Another thing to remember is that each agency may have a different process for determining nurses' "blended" rates. Research how one agency's rate compares to others so you can make apples-to-apples comparisons when negotiating your pay.
There are a few things to remember regarding travel nurse housing benefits. First, it's essential to understand how travel nurses get paid in the first place. Each agency has a contract with each facility that dictates how much each nurse gets paid. This number cannot be negotiated directly with the hospital. Once that number is determined, the agency takes that amount and determines your hourly rate, benefits, and non-taxable reimbursements like housing, meals, stipends, insurance, and travel reimbursements.
That's why viable alternatives are essential if you aren't happy with your current deal. This will help you make an informed decision and negotiate for a better contract.
Don't Give Up
When negotiating travel nurse housing benefits, you should never give up. If you need help getting what you want, try a different approach. You might be surprised by how much more you can achieve when you negotiate as a representative of others.
For example, you might ask to represent your family or posterity during a negotiation. This strategy can be successful, especially for women who often negotiate more assertively when representing someone else than when dealing with themselves.
Also, be sure to complete your paperwork quickly. Agencies lose money when contract start dates get pushed back, or nurses cancel their assignments. This affects their bottom line and should not be taken lightly. Ensure you understand the contract terms, including overtime rates, call-out policies, and other details pertinent to your assignment.
Keep an Open Mind
Healthcare staffing agencies hire a travel nurse to work temporary contracts at hospitals and other healthcare facilities in locations away from their legal tax home. In addition to pay, travel nurses typically receive housing stipends or free housing, depending on the agency.
One of the pros to being a travel nurse is that you don't get caught up in office politics and workplace drama. In addition, you will be able to work in different regions of the country and see where you want to settle down later in life.
A con of being a travel nurse is that you will always be the new kid on the block, and this can be hard if you are more introverted. It's essential to keep an open mind and embrace each new location with positivity and a desire to learn.
Could you not Make a Big Deal Out of It?
Travel nurses often negotiate with patients to follow hospital protocols or with fellow nurses for shift changes. Negotiating is necessary for travel nursing, so being comfortable with it is essential.
When negotiating your contract, remember that everyone has a bottom line. For example, if your top priority is substantial pay and a day shift, focus on free housing offers.
You must first understand the total package to negotiate your travel nurse contract. This is known as the bill rate and can be compared to a pie chart. You can learn more about the bill rate in our blog post, How to Understand Your Travel Nurse Contract's "Blended" Rate.
Many travel nurse pay packages come in the form of tax-free housing allowances and travel reimbursement. These can make a big difference in the overall total compensation of a travel nurse.
The best way to negotiate is to be flexible. Having an open mind will allow you to find a win-win deal for everyone. You can get a good idea of your specialty's average rate by calling around different agencies. You can also check out travel nursing Facebook groups for accurate information on pay rates for a particular location.
Ultimately, it is essential to remember that traveling nurses are worth what they ask for. Be confident in your negotiating skills and go for what you deserve.