Working with a staffing agency to find traveling nursing assignments sounds like a win-win. You get to travel the country, doing work you love. It might seem as if there has to be a catch.
Companies, such as Uber, take a cut of their driver’s earnings, often around 25%. Those companies can justify taking a portion of people’s earnings by saying that the driver wouldn’t have gotten the work without the company’s platform.
Staffing agencies don’t work quite like that. They get paid for their services, but they aren’t skimming a portion of earnings off of the top. Instead, they use something called a bill rate to determine how much they get paid.
The bill rate combines the nurse’s hourly rate and the agency’s charge for its services. It’s usually displayed as an hourly rate. Staffing agencies often only get paid the bill rate for the hours a nurse works.
Does the Staffing Agency Charge the Nurse or the Hospital?
You work hard as a nurse and want to take home as much of your earnings as possible. That’s understandable. Fortunately for you, you don’t have to pay the staffing agency from your own pocket.
The bill rate is charged to the hospital or facility looking for nurses, not the nurses who accept assignments with the agency. When you accept a nursing assignment from a staffing agency using a bill rate model, you can feel confident that the hourly rate you’re quoted is what you’ll receive.
In many cases, travel nurses end up getting more than the hourly pay rate promised them. They also can take advantage of health insurance coverage, housing reimbursements, and paid sick days.
In some situations, a nurse gets a signing bonus. Sign-on bonuses are common in areas that have a high need for nurses or for roles that are traditionally tough to fill.
What Is a Staffing Agency’s Bill Rate?
The staffing agency’s bill rate is simply how much the agency gets paid for every hour a nurse or another type of medical provider works.
If your hospital or healthcare facility is interested in hiring travel nurses or therapists and wants to know how much doing so will cost, you can calculate the expense easily. Just multiply the bill rate by the number of hours you expect the travel nurse to work.
For example, you need to hire a nurse for a full-time, 13-week assignment. The nurse will work 36-hour weeks. The bill rate is $80. Multiply 36 by 13 to get a total of 468 hours.
Next, multiply 468 by the bill rate, $80, to get $37,440. That’s how much your facility will pay the agency.
What Goes Into the Bill Rate?
The bill rate is what helps staffing agencies keep the lights on and allows them to continue to provide their services.
Healthcare facilities might feel like they’re paying a hefty mark-up when they contract with an agency, but the truth is that the staffing agency is covering a lot of costs the facility would otherwise have to pay.
The following costs all contribute to the overall bill rate:
- Pay rate: The pay rate is how much the travel nurse or therapist gets paid per hour. Since many travel nurses go to facilities or hospitals in areas with a lot of demand, the pay rate is usually very competitive.
- Labor costs: The staffing agency takes on the responsibility of paying for mandated labor costs, such as unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, and the employer’s portion of Social Security and Medicare tax. Those taxes get rolled into the bill rate.
- Insurance: If the agency offers its travel nurses health, dental, and vision insurance, the cost of the insurance often gets added to the bill rate.
- Paid time off and bonuses: If a sign-on bonus is part of the package or if the nurse gets some paid time off, the cost is added to the bill rate.
- General expenses: A portion of the bill rate also covers a portion of the agency’s general expenses, such as the cost of advertising for the position, interviewing candidates, and the recruiter’s salaries.
What Do Hospitals Get When They Work With a Staffing Agency?
The cost of working with a staffing agency might seem steep, especially if you’re in a cash-strapped healthcare facility. But, you need to remember that the bill rate includes the nurse’s compensation, employment taxes, insurance, and bonuses, all of which your facility would otherwise need to pay.
Plus, the benefits of using a staffing agency are often more than makeup for the slightly additional cost.
When a healthcare facility or hospital works with an agency, the agency is responsible for finding the right candidate. Since the agency has plenty of connections, it’s going to find the right nurse for your open position much more quickly than you’d be able to if you handled the matter internally.
The staffing agency also assumes the risk of being the employer. It pays for the nurse’s employment taxes. If the nurse doesn’t work out, the agency’s reputation is on the line. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make the right match the first time.
What Do Nurses Get When They Work With a Staffing Agency?
Usually, nurses don’t know what the bill rate is that the agency charges. If they do find out that the agency charges $80 per hour and they’re getting paid $40, they might feel a little upset.
But it’s worth remembering that nurses get a lot from the agency’s bill rate. For example, the staffing agency offers health, dental, and vision insurance to its travel nurse team. A retirement plan might also be available.
Specific perks can vary based on whether you accept a full-time position or a temporary, travel position. For example, with a full-time role, you might get paid vacation days. Travel positions often have seasonal bonuses or incentives.
Plus, when you work as a travel nurse, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re taking on an assignment in an area or facility that needs your skills and services the most.
How to Find a Staffing Agency
Cost and pay are just two considerations when choosing a staffing agency. It’s also important to consider the relationship you’ll have with the company and the opportunities available to you.
TheraEx Staffing matches our jobseekers to a single recruiter. You’ll have a single point of contact while you work with our agency, meaning you’ll get to know your recruiter and they’ll get to know you.
Building a relationship with a recruiter means they’re more likely to find and recommend you for roles that match your skills and interests.
Another thing to look for is the locations available. Some agencies operate locally while others place nurses and therapists across the country. If you love to travel and want to see as much of the country as possible while earning a living and doing what you love, look for an agency that has opportunities all over.
TheraEx Staffing is based in California but offers positions on both coasts and in the middle of the US, too.
Finally, look for an agency that gets you the compensation you deserve. The best staffing agency will be working hard to match the right jobseeker to the right opportunity and to ensure that the compensation package is fair and beneficial to its nurses.