How to Start a Nurse Staffing Agency

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What does it take to start your travel nurse agency (nurse staffing agency)? What are some reasons for you to start one?

Today we’re exploring why nurses are starting their own travel agencies, what the benefits are, how you can and all you need to know!

So, if you have ever been a travel nurse before, then you’ll know most of the in’s-and-out’s. However, there is a lot behind-the-scenes that most agency nurses might not realize or understand.

What you’re told is, “your recruiter will take care of it” or “it’s someone else’s job to handle it”. But, what most nurses don’t realize, is that “someone else” is costing them a lot of money.

We recently interviewed a travel nurse who started their own agency from scratch. In this post, we’ll be talking about what their experiences were, if they recommend replicating the process, and what the outcomes were.

And, if you’re interested in how to start travel nursing or how much money travel nurses make, check out some of our recent articles!

A little disclaimer before we start: We will be keeping the identity of the person anonymous. It is important that we remain impartial to the business/financial decisions made by nurses or business owners. We simply want to put the information out there to let nurses decide for themselves.

Why Travel Nurse?

Travel nursing has a load of benefits for nurses. The number one, and most common answer is money. Travel nurses are paid significantly more money than staff nurses.

Another common reason is flexibility. Nurses have a significant amount of flexibility when choosing the location of assignment, vacation times, and even type of nursing.

What is a Private Contract Nurse?

A private contract nurse is a nurse that works with hospitals directly. They will cut out the middle-man and create their own contracts.

While they work with hospitals directly, they are not employees of that particular hospital. They operate under their own company (typically an LLC).

What is a Travel Nurse Agency?

A travel nurse agency or nurse staffing agency is a business model designed to help nurses find hospitals and hospitals find nurses.

In theory, a staffing agency should have a symbiotic relationship with not only the staff, but the client as well. The agency will help find nurses a healthy assignment with fair wages, and the hospital will receive a well-experienced staff member (temporarily).

What are the Pros of Working with an Agency?

The pros of working with a travel nursing agency commonly revolve around what a recruiter can do for you.

Typically your recruiter will help you find assignments and work with the hospitals directly to get you placed. Additionally, agencies might offer benefits such as retirement or PTO/vacation time. They almost always offer health benefits.

In addition to benefits, a lot of agencies will help you negotiate a contract. For those who don’t know, the more money you make, the more money the agencies make. But, that brings us into the cons…

What are the Cons of Working with an Agency?

The cons of working for a travel nurse agency typically involve how much money the agencies take.

Pay numbers can vary greatly, and you’ll often here a drastic range (so, take these numbers with a grain of salt). But, staffing agencies take up to 100% of what you’re making for themselves.

For example, if your pay rate is $100 per hour (just including living stipends in for simplicity), agencies might bill as much as $200 per hour. This means that for every hour you work an agency will take $100 too.

Now, obviously this money helps pay for things such as employee cost, benefit packages, and other miscellaneous business expenses. However, it does seem a bit high. And, a lot of nurses are just happy to be making more money than there staff jobs, they don’t look too much into it!

Why Start Your Own Nurse Staffing Agency?

So, why would you want to start your own travel nurse staffing agency? Well, the person we interviewed was frustrated with the living stipend rule.

For those who don’t know, you can only receive a tax-free stipend as long as you have been in a spot for less than 364 days. But, if you’re there for 365 or more days, then you will no longer be eligible.

Well, this person did not want to leave the facility that they were staffing. So, they worked with the facilitators on what options were available. The facility said, “why not start your own agency?”. It made sense from a financial standpoint because the bill rate was more than what the pay rate plus stipend was. And, there was incentive to work for yourself.

Working for Yourself vs Working for Someone Else?

This unique scenario poses an interesting question, “should you work for yourself or for someone else?”. Well, in this person’s case, they decided to work for themselves.

From their perspective, it changed their career – for the better. However, they did mention that instead of working 3×12 hour shifts. They now work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This full schedule is taken up by talking with potential candidates, checking job boards/postings, and talking with applicants. There is a lot of work involved, and with the correct mindset, it might be the switch some nurses need.

Another important aspect of working for yourself involves being responsible. You are not only responsible for your own paycheck, but your employees as well.

How to Start a Nurse Travel Staffing Agency

How do you start your own nurse staffing agency? Well, there are several steps involved, and these might differ depending on your unique situation.

Make a Business Plan

The first step is to write a business plan (SBA template/read more). Business plans should organize your thoughts, goals, and everything that should encompass your model. It should outline how you will make money and how to prepare for challenges with getting started.

Additionally, you should include your financial plans, marketing plans, and customer/talent acquisition plans.

Register Your Business

Create an LLC, or limited liability company. This will help you protect yourself as well as your assets. Each state has different requirements, but you can find more information here.

Necessary Credentialing

One unique aspect to really any portion of healthcare is credentialing. Unlike a painting company (for example), you’ll need employees to go through background checks, credential verification, and additional hospital requirements.

Each state and hospital will have different requirements, so you should verify what you need for your own needs.

Create a Website/Social Media

Creating a website and social media accounts is vital in today’s age. It can be fairly simple, but professional. You want potential clients and talent to have a place to find simple resources such as your contact information, company values, etc.

Find Clients

Finding clients or hospitals to work with you can be challenging at first. However, there are a few companies that help post jobs/opportunities that you can use.

Don’t Give Up

Most importantly, don’t give up! There will be a lot of phone calls, issues and learning in the first few months and even in the first few years. You must have perseverance and the drive to make it work!

Final Thoughts

Finally, when it comes to starting your own nurse agency, is it worth it or should you stick with a traditional job?

We asked a local travel agency owner.

This is entirely dependent on how you want your home life.  I’m on call 24/7, I email constantly from my phone, I am constantly monitoring job boards and applicants.  I no longer work 3 days for 12 hours, I work 7 days for 23 hours (I do take bathroom breaks).  If you want to get away from bedside and have the non-stop work mentality, starting a healthcare business can absolutely be a great chance to do something different with your degree.

L.G., BSN-RN – owner/operator of travel nurse agency

In our opinion it can be extremely rewarding to own your own company. This can be from an emotional aspect or even a financial one.

But, regardless there is a lot of hard work that you have to be willing to put in. If you are someone who loves to work a lot on something you are passionate about, then starting your own agency might be for you!

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Full Time Nurse

Striving to help nurses and nursing students succeed.

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