When you’re browsing jobs for your next travel assignment, it’s easy to dive right in with your preferences filtered and the opportunities sorted by highest to lowest pay. That’s a great place to get started, but it isn’t the only way. Consider this: taking a value-based approach to evaluating pay packages.
What is value-based pay?
"Value-based payment" often refers to the pay model in healthcare where instead of providers being paid a fixed amount for performing a certain service, they're paid based on the quality of care provided. Focusing on quality and on achieving specific goals is intended to avoid extra time and cost to the patient's detriment.
Here, it refers to the fact that the dollar amount on a job card isn't the only thing that matters in the pay package. Many factors affect med travelers' overall job satisfaction, and it's important to take them all into consideration when choosing your next assignment.
What’s included in a travel nurse pay package?
Figuring out the real value of a pay package can be way more complicated than it needs to be. Blended rates that include multiple pieces, atypical tax situations, location, degree of necessity, and varying levels of experience and certification all contribute to the confusion – and then different agencies will offer the same assignment at different amounts.
Ultimately, you are the only one who can determine which facets of a job should be weighed most heavily for your current situation. The values of some medical travelers can dramatically differ from others. Whether you’re looking at different jobs on opposite ends of the country or the same job offered by multiple agencies, you should know exactly what you’re looking at.
Here’s how to review your options on Fusion Marketplace and evaluate them accordingly.
This is the easiest metric to consider at face value. The number next to the dollar sign is by far the most important piece of information for the majority of travel nurses and travel allied healthcare professionals. Keep in mind that this number may not include taxes, insurance, or other deductions – it also may not include offered expense reimbursement.
In this example, the stated pay per week differs between agencies offering the same position. Although the agency offering the largest amount might be the most tempting option, it’s worth seeing what the other options bring to the table – you may find some perks and benefits that surprise you.
Location is one of the most important factors for med travelers choosing their assignments. Whether you’re hoping for time in the mountains, the beach, an urban environment, or a certain temperature, this is often one of the first things that travel nurses and other travel professionals seek.
In addition to picking a location that you’re interested in visiting, think about what the location means for the overall compensation package. Some cities or states have a much higher cost of living, so you need to consider how far your paycheck will actually go in different locations after essentials like food, transportation, housing, and accounting for varying rates of inflation.
If you want to maximize how much ends up in your pocket, you might think about searching for jobs in rural locations, which have lower costs of living, even if the amount listed is smaller than a job in a big city.
Since travel assignments are often listed by pay per week (including on Fusion Marketplace), it can be worth it to see how much the assignment is actually worth by hour. Of course a job that requires 48 hours a week should pay more for that week than a similar job that only requests 36 – but that doesn’t mean they’re offering the same per hour.
And that’s okay! You might want to make the most money possible at the end of your contract, no matter what. But you also might decide that having some more time off to avoid burnout and enjoy your assignment is your top priority. Finding balance is essential to loving the jobs you choose.
Benefits and perks
When you’re looking at travel jobs, it’s essential to include benefits in your valuation. Even if you don’t think you will choose them, take a peek at the agency’s offerings. And when multiple agencies are offering the same job, compare the perks and benefits each offers and take that into account along with the base pay. Not all agencies will offer the same perks, and some will be less important to you than others, but you should know all your options – if only so you don’t miss out on something great.
Here are some possibilities of little (or big) benefits that could tip the scale when it comes to total compensation:
Tax-free per diems may help you cover expenses like travel, food, and other items.
The convenience of your earnings going straight into your bank account is easy to take for granted; if that's something you're used to, you might want to think about how you'll adapt to a different method.
Some agencies will pay for you to learn, whether that means your state license, compliance, or certifications. You may also be eligible to be reimbursed for things like PPE, your cell phone, scrubs, or other required items.
You might be surprised by how many agencies offer retirement saving plans for travelers. If you find that this is an option for you, look a little further into it. Does the agency match your contributions? If so, what are the percentages? Does it begin right away, or do you need to travel with them for a certain amount of time? When are you eligible to begin contributing? Don’t leave money on the table by ignoring investing opportunities.
Paid time off might seem like a foreign concept for healthcare travelers, but some agencies do offer it. Specific eligibility requirements will vary.
It can be more convenient to stay with the same health insurance provider and avoid going through agencies’ offerings, but some do offer excellent options for you and your family. Just keep in mind the particulars of the offer before signing up – most important, when will coverage start?
Dental and vision insurance
Over 40% of the U.S. population needs corrective lenses for their vision, and dental issues can greatly affect health and comfort. If you have the option for coverage with full dental and/or vision insurance, you might want to consider it.
- Liability insurance: although nobody wants to think about it, accidents can happen to even the most careful healthcare workers. Some agencies offer professional liability insurance in case you need it.
- Short-term disability: if you are unable to work due to injury or being sick, you may have a need for short-term disability insurance.
- Worker’s comp insurance: if you’re specifically injured while working, worker’s comp can help while you’re recovering.
Whatever you value most, there’s a way to prioritize it. You deserve to have all the facts when you’re making decisions about your career. Knowing which opportunities are available makes it easier to choose the things that matter most to you.