Choosing a reputable agency
The vast majority of travel healthcare companies are ethical, reputable, and stable from a business standpoint, but it pays to be choosy when deciding which agencies to sign with. We spoke with Bill Heller, president of RN Network (www.rnnetwork.com) about what traveling healthcare professionals should look for in a corporate career partner.
HT: What are some basic steps travelers should take to determine if a staffing agency is reputable and suitable of signing with?
Heller: They should approach choosing an agency like they would with any other business arrangement, by starting with research. Deciding to work with an agency is an important career decision for travelers and potential travelers. They should visit the company website to check for some simple things like how long the agency has been in business, whether they’re Joint Commission-certified, and if they’re a member of the National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations.
HT: If all that checks out, what’s next?
Heller: Once they have the basic sense of a company, they should contact a recruiter to find out more, such as what the service structure is. For example, if they signed, would they always deal with one recruiter, or would they work with individuals in credentialing, housing, and payroll separately to manage those pieces of the puzzle. Neither method is right or wrong, but it’s a good thing to know going in.
HT: What do you think differentiates one firm from other?
Heller: All travel healthcare agencies do pretty much the same thing — and say the same things about what they do. They all have around-the-clock service for their travelers, but what does that really mean? When considering a firm, a traveler should ask detailed questions about how a company delivers service, and – this is important – how they measure their own level of service, internally. All agencies say they deliver great service to their travelers, but what criteria do they base that statement on?
HT: So travelers should get down to that level of detail when evaluating a company?
Heller: Absolutely. Another thing to ask a recruiter is what their agency’s biggest challenge is. How someone answers that question can be very revealing. They can also present a scenario such as, “Tell me about a recent service failure and how your company remedied it.” Once you’re with an agency, there will be glitches from time to time. What’s important is how a company addresses those glitches and whether travelers are satisfied with the outcome when little things go wrong.
HT: It sounds as if the traveler is conducting a job interview.
Heller: It should be a two-way interview. Agencies should carefully evaluate the travelers they bring on board so they know they have a quality team of people to send out to their clients. Travelers need to evaluate firms just as carefully in order to protect their own careers and reputations.
HT: What are some red flags that healthcare travelers should watch for?
Heller: Remember the old adage that, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If a company is offering something that’s far off the norm for the industry standard in terms of pay or benefits, be careful. Be especially wary of a firm that offers tax-free compensation that is beyond what most other firms offer. It might make for a sweet deal now, but if you get in trouble with the IRS down the road, that’s not so sweet.
HT: So in comparison, what sets your company apart from the competition?
Heller: The parent company of RN Network, CHG Healthcare, has been named a Fortune 100 Top Places to Work twice now. We believe, at the core, that it’s all about the people – internally and externally. If your core value is putting people first and if you’re always considering what the impact of your decisions will have on people, that will take care of just about everything. If firms offer a fair package and reliable service, if they communicate well, and if they’re true to their word and people-centered, they’ll do great.
Read more articles in this issue of Healthcare Traveler Mobile News.