Review a Recruiter

What’s the number one thing a healthcare recruiter can do to attract and retain travel nurses? According to one, it’s to build trust and support your travelers. 

Our Head of Customer Success David George sat down with Ashley Cohagen, a travel nurse in Michigan with eight years’ nursing experience. She also is the creator of Balanced Nurses, a brand which advocates for nurses to prioritize life balance and wellness. 

During their conversation, the two discussed her perspective on healthcare staffing, and offered some meaningful insights on what agencies and recruiters can do to better serve their travelers.

    The path to travel nursing

    Although she’s been an emergency and intensive care nurse for eight years, it wasn’t until 2020—right at the beginning of the Covid pandemic—that Cohagen started working as a travel nurse. 

    Her decision to become a travel nurse was primarily for lifestyle reasons. “My fiancé and I had built out a camper van and were planning to travel. And with Covid happening, I wasn’t getting as many hours in the emergency department—people stopped coming to the ER for anything other than Covid.”

    As a result, Cohagen began taking contracts as a travel nurse. Overall, Cohagen says the experience has been well worth it. “It’s a good way to work as a nurse, take time off in between contracts, and stay balanced and avoid burnout.” 

    For Cohagen, travel nursing has not only come with lifestyle benefits, but has been a great learning opportunity. “I love that I get to go around the country and see how different hospitals operate. When you start out as a nurse, you’re in one hospital and you see how they do things. It’s interesting to go to hospitals that are bigger or smaller and see how they utilize their resources.” 

    However, travel nursing isn’t without its challenges, even drawbacks. “You’re often viewed as the first person to do things that other people don’t want to do. So you end up floating to different units a lot. Sometimes you’re given the harder assignments—but thankfully you’re compensated for that.” 

    Finding a travel nurse recruiter

    As she began her journey, Cohagen looked at Facebook forums and talked with other nurses who had taken a similar path. But when it came time to find a recruiter, she went with a referral from another nurse.

    “I had someone else’s reference, someone saying ‘Hey, this was a good recruiter.’ This recruiter worked hard for me, and was great with first-time travelers. She was someone who could guide me through the process.”

    It’s not uncommon for first-time travelers to be taken advantage of. For Cohagen, having a trustworthy recruiter in her corner was instrumental to her success. The same was true for the agency: “They really cared about their employees as nurses, and wanted to help them if something was going wrong. They weren’t just a number and a dollar.”

    Although Cohagen has stuck with this particular recruiter, it hasn’t stopped her from keeping herself open to other assignments. “Different agencies specialize in different things,” she said. “So I went with a different agency that had four-week contracts, which is what I was looking for at the time.” For longer contracts, she remained with her original agency. 

    When choosing a recruiter, Cohagen said she looked for several things: 

    • Responsiveness. Travelers need to trust that the recruiter will be there when you need them. 
    • Service. Travelers need recruiters who won’t push them into roles that aren’t a good fit, or even into exclusive contracts that close you off from other opportunities. 
    • Career advice & support. Travelers need recruiters who can walk them through the credentialing process and stay on top of everything. Cohagen noted that one particular agency supported her and set up all necessary medical appointments; others have left it up to her to do it and simply reimbursed her after the fact. 

      At the end of the day, agencies and recruiters that take care of their travelers and enable them to focus on what they do best will see better results and build trust with the travelers they serve. 

      READ MORE: What every travel nurse needs to know about finding a Great Recruiter

      Changing the narrative around travel nursing + life balance

      In addition to her travel nursing career, Cohagen also manages a brand called Balanced Nurses to promote the idea that you’re a human first and a nurse second. So it’s important to prioritize your wellbeing over your career. 

      “So many nurses are heading toward burnout, which leads to them not wanting to be in the profession at all. I think that’s a really sad situation. We need to promote taking care of ourselves before it gets to that point.”

      Cohagen specifically recommends changing the following: 

      • Prioritize self-care
      • Make boundaries with your work
      • Don’t pick up overtime if you haven’t been able to care for yourself
      • Make space to heal from traumatic situations

      That’s one of the reasons Cohagen loves the flexibility of travel nursing. “It’s good to take time off and come back to your contacts fresh and not burnt out. That way, you can really give your all to your patients, team, and other nurses.” 

      READ MORE: How Marvel Medical Staffing is rehumanizing the healthcare industry

      Why travel nurses value recruiter reviews, feedback, and referrals 

      As we mentioned earlier, when Cohagen began working as a travel nurse, her first recruiter came through a referral. This meant that she started this new stage of her career working with someone she trusted, who in turn was referred by a nurse who she trusted.

      Trust, then, is central to the traveler-recruiter relationships. Real-time reviews on recruiters and facilities, then, are a core component of building that trust. 

      “As a first-time traveler, there’s a lot of room for you to have a bad experience if you’re not guided through it well. Being able to look at reviews for recruiters and hospitals alike is key to having a great first contract, which then informs the direction in which you can take your travel nursing career.” 

      From Cohagen’s perspective, reviews and feedback are a win-win—the traveler knows they’re working with someone great, and the recruiter gets a solid pipeline of travelers to work with and grow their book of business. 

      Travel nurse recruiters: are you ready to show your travelers that you can be trusted? Start capturing real-time reviews & feedback with Great Recruiters today.