Why aren't Travelers Using the Referral Bonus?

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By The Gypsy Nurse

October 24, 2016



Travel Nurse: The ‘Referral’ Bonus

“The referral is a key piece of efforts to source new candidates for open positions. Thus the referral bonus comes from the marketing budget, not the RN’s pay package. A nurse’s pay shouldn’t suffer because they want to help the company they work for.” Rich Smith, Vice President & Co-founder at Atlas MedStaff

As a traveler, you probably already know that most staffing agencies offer some sort of referral bonus.  These bonuses can range from $250 to over $1000 per referral. Although I don’t recommend this as an ‘alternate source of income’ and highly discourage a traveler from recommending a company simply for the referral bonus, it’s important to know that these bonuses are available and, in many cases, underutilized.

Where does the Referral Bonus come from?

The Gypsy Nurse recently polled multiple staffing agencies to determine where these monies come from.  In most cases, the funds are directly taken from the marketing and advertising budgets.

Our marketing and advertising departments are budgeted together, and that is where it (referral bonus) comes from. We don’t budget any referral bonuses or benefits to come out of the bill rate, with the exception of any vendor management fees. We give out approximately $60,000 in referral bonuses a year.” Gregg Buck, Vice President of Recruiting The Right Solutions Healthcare Staffing

In cases where there isn’t funding in the marketing and advertising budgets, these costs are being pulled from ‘general funds.’

“Referrals are paid out of the company’s general funds. We do not associate any referral cost to any service line because we want all service lines to encourage referrals. Simply put, referrals are a big lifeline for us, and we want everyone on our team to understand the value of the referrals, not their cost.”  C. Mike Emery, RN Chief Executive Officer, Expedient Medstaff

Why aren’t travelers taking advantage of these Bonuses?

There is a general misconception among travelers that these bonuses come out of the bill rates and will ultimately lower the traveler’s pay.  In most cases, this is not true.

“Referral bonuses with PPR are paid outside each bill rate to benefit our travelers who refer nurses to us. We truly appreciate our nurses for talking to others about the benefits of traveling with PPR.” Stacy Rogers Pavish Senior Travel RN Recruiter at PPR TMG

It is important to note that this is a sampling of staffing agencies, and although the Gypsy Nurse cannot ascertain that this is true in all cases, it appears to be the ‘norm’ in the industry.  If you are considering utilizing a referral and are leary due to concerns about where the bonus comes from…ASK!  If a company has nothing to hide, it will quickly inform you where these funds originate.

How Much are Referral Bonuses?

The referral bonus amount varies greatly from one company to another and can also vary according to the specialty of the traveler being referred. It’s also important to note that you don’t necessarily have to be employed by an agency to receive a referral bonus.  Have a company that you worked for in the past that you loved?  If you have a friend who is interested in travel nursing or know of a facility that employs travel nurses, give a referral. Know someone looking for a specific location and a company that staffs there? Share the information! Do you see a posting for a specific specialty and know a traveler that will fit the bill?  Let your friend know and ask for the referral.

Here are some examples:

SpecialtyReferral Bonus
Registered Nurse (Labor & Delivery, OR, CVOR, PICU)$1000
Registered Nurse (all other specialties)$500
Physical Therapist$1000
Occupational Therapist$1000
Speech Language Pathologist$1000
Physical Therapist Assistant$500
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant$500

Why do Staffing Agencies want referrals?

If you were staffing, who would you rather work for/with?  An unknown or a friend of a great traveler?  Referrals are important for staffing agencies.  While discussing the referral issue with a staffing agency representative, he told me, “it comes out of the Companies Bottom Line clearly….but so do leads that we buy!! We like to say that referrals are the best leads because our nurse knows what we are looking for as representation of our company…and thus they tend to find like-minded nurses….best lead ever…someone that is known by one of the people working with you already!!”

Where do the budgeted funds go if unused for referrals?

This is a simple, straight answer…..right back to the company’s Profit!

Do you have a friend that referred you to your next staffing agency?  Have a job you’ve been looking for, and someone pointed you to the perfect company?  Make sure to give their name as a referral!  Let’s start putting some of those marketing dollars to work by claiming the referral fees that the staffing companies already budget.

If you utilize the Gypsy Nurse resources and don’t have someone specifically to give a referral to, please consider giving the Gypsy Nurse as your referral source.

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