Week 7: “Give it to the travel nurse, she makes more than we do”

Let’s just get this out the way before I go any further with this post.

Fallacy! I probably don’t make that much more than you do.

Someone I work with recently made the above comment within earshot of myself and a fellow traveler. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. I very politely corrected her and the subject changed. But I’ve been stewing over that comment a bit so I figured I’d wrap the midpoint of this assignment by discussing this comment.

I’ve been a travel nurse for coming up on two years. One of the things people like to think is that we are rolling in the donuts. That’s incorrect for a couple of reasons.

Yes, you can do well traveling, but you have to really finagle and luck out to make what people believe are the “big bucks”

Things that work against us in the traveler industry are many.

Cost of living in the area you travel to, expenses getting there, bills you have to pay in duplicate while you’re gone, expensive housing, taxes, and the fact that bill rates kill you.

There’s this assumption that just because the hospital shelled out big bucks to secure a contract with me, I, as the travel nurse, see all that money.

No, I don’t

I can’t even try to explain bill rates because I’m still trying to get a hold on the concept myself.  I’ll just state that everyone gets a cut of the money in the contract. There’s a lot of behind the scenes logistics that mean the piece of the pie I see isn’t large.

For the sake of conversation, I’ll tell you how much I make in this current contract.

I’m in Southern California, which is notorious for being thin when it comes to pay for travelers. Why pay people more when they want to be where it’s tropical year round? On top of that is the crazy California taxes and the blended rate for anything over 8 hours

So, my hourly taxed rate is $23.50, add the untaxed meal allowance and it works out to be around $28 an hour.

Not awful, right? But I was making that at home at UHC as a per diem nurse. That’s West Virginia where the cost of living is significantly lower. With 9 years of nursing experience, I should be making a bit more, right?

You ask “what about the housing allowance!” Oh, that can work out in your favor if you find accommodations that are significantly less than whatever you’ve been allotted. Many times you end up paying more for big city areas like LA or Boston. You can go cheap, but at the high cost of safety or distance to work.

I opt to have my company find my housing. That costs so it cuts into the money I actually get. Again, it’s a pie and I only see so much of it after everything is said and done.

So with California taxes and paying bills, I’ll end up with anywhere from $300 in my pocket at the end of the week… If I’m lucky.

See where I’m heading here?

Have I done well other places? Yes! But that was because I found cheap housing, or my company didn’t have to find me housing, or I worked crazy overtime.

If you believe all travel nurses have a take home of $2K each week, you don’t know the industry. It’s not as lucrative as in the past so traveling to make quick money isn’t the way to go. Other travelers may have a different experience, but this is what I’ve dealt with in my career.

Back to original statement though…

The implications of it are a little bothersome really. Perm staff say that to justify dumping on travelers. We’re temporary and being paid like kings and queens so why not make us work for it, right?

Keep a few things in mind before you dump on your travelers. We’re there because you’re in a bind with staffing. I’m there to help you. You make my job hard and I tell every other traveler I know to never come your way. So where does that leave your floor?

Really paying big bucks to get people because you’re short. You may not get quality either. Aka: up the creek without a paddle

Don’t abuse me, folks. I’m helping YOU out.

Traveling is something I love, but money isn’t the big motivator for me. I do well enough to keep at it.

Your helper Nurse CC, signing out.

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