Upholding Integrity in Travel Healthcare

Upholding Integrity in Travel Healthcare

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” ~Henry Ford

Integrity is most commonly known in the travel healthcare field as “doing what you said that you would do.” Relatively simple, right?

Unfortunately, I have started to see a shift in this paradigm in the last few years. Our basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology have drastically changed. Some of the comments that I hear now include:

“The hospitals cancel us all the time without notice, so why are we expected to act with integrity when they don’t?”

Simply, “Do what’s best for you. They would drop you in a second if they didn’t need you anymore.”

“In a profession where we are undervalued & underpaid, I will do what I want.”

“Hospitals would easily cut your pay without wondering how you would feel about it. Do what is financially and mentally better for you.”

“These companies do not care about their nurses, much less a travel nurse, so why not go someplace where they’re offering me more money that’s closer to home? Sign me up!”

In my 18 years of travel healthcare, I have watched agencies go from “taking the hit” of a canceled contract to, “The nurse will pay us a fee.” Why? Because there was a high rate of increase in canceled contracts for petty reasons, agencies were losing big bucks from hospital fines and orientation costs to have the nurse leave the first week. So, now we find clauses in our contracts that states that we, the travelers, are responsible for all costs if the contract is canceled.

One of the biggest questions that I see nowadays is, “Why should I act with integrity when no one else does? Hospitals cancel us all the time without notice; why can’t we cancel without notice?” They look at all the hospital’s cancellations and think that if it doesn’t act with integrity, why should I? The simple truth is that travel healthcare providers don’t have control over what hospitals or agencies do, but we do control what we do.

How did travel healthcare become such a “me, me, me” enterprise? Everyone seems concerned about themselves instead of working with others. What happened to hospitals, agencies, and healthcare providers working together? Yes, agencies do make money off of us, and no, we don’t have to go through an agency, but it is so much nicer when we all work together. In my personal opinion, Wanderly does a great job of trying to navigate this cooperation for us, but we have work to do.

How did COVID-19 affect all of this? It all goes back to supply and demand. The demand for nurses was GREAT in the worst months of the pandemic, and nurses were making up to $10,000 a week through crisis contracts. Now, crisis contracts are few and far between, along with making $5,000 per week. We are back to $1,500 to $2,500 per week, which has prompted the attitude of, “Agencies need to pay us what we are worth.” The truth is, they can’t until hospitals raise their billing rates. And the chances of this happening are slim to none when vendors advertise that hospitals have the right to cancel us for one day every pay period, and the vendor will not charge the hospital for orientation. Vendors also promise a “quality healthcare professional at a reasonable price.” In other words, we will short the nurse and the agency to give hospitals a great rate to use our service.

One thing is evident from the Travel Nursing Newbies website and Facebook group: The agencies that we are partnered with support their travelers 100%. We only work with the best! And consider this statement: “These companies do not care about their nurses.”

Travelers talk about agencies and recruiters that are good or horrible. Recruiters do the same thing. It is amazing how many recruiters band together, whether they work for the same agency or not. Your reputation for doing what you said you would most likely precede you.

Healthcare professionals must take pride in their professional integrity. Take some time to make your decision; after all, agencies usually give you at least 24 hours to think about it, and Wanderly can help you navigate through the different agencies, offers, and contracts.

Stay tuned for our next article on how work ethics play a part in travel healthcare.


Disclaimer: this post was written by guest author and Travel Nursing Guru, Kay Epi Slane, and are her viewpoints and opinions of the traveling healthcare industry.

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