VMSs and MSPs: The robots you need to make happy

Learn travel healthcare like a from fellow travelers (unbiased and honest)

Before we dive into what VMSs and MSPs are, let’s figure out why they exist in the first place. When you’re talking with recruiters, you may hear the term “direct contract” being tossed around a lot. But what does it mean for travel SLPs, PTs, and OTs? In the travel allied health world, direct = the staffing agency has a direct relationship with the facility or hospital. Most jobs (about 70%) go through a computer system. This means the agencies never get to directly talk to the hospitals with job openings. They have to do all their communication through a computer system and/or the person managing the computer system (we’ll get to that player next).

Travel allied health direct contracts

Direct contracts mean the account manager actually gets to talk directly to the facility or hospital. Why is this important? This helps your company figure out exactly what the facility’s need looks like and how to help them find an awesome allied health travelers to fill it.

Typically, agencies that have direct contracts with certain hospitals are the first to hear about their job openings. Another benefit is better communication. If a travel tech has a question on what color scrubs to wear or what the parking situation looks like, the recruiter can call the hospital directly to get the answer. It’s not that simple with other contracts.

Back in the beginning, almost all contracts were direct. But because hospitals have such limited time, it became increasingly difficult when more staffing agencies started popping up. The hospitals needed something to manage communication with all of the staffing agencies they were working with. And where there is a need, there is usually someone who finds a way to make money off of it. Drum roll please… introducing the VMS!

Travel allied health VMSs

Who they are: VMS stands for “Vendor Management System.” A VMS is an electronic system that allows hospitals to post open positions for travel jobs that many agencies can see. It also allows recruiters to enter our work histories and credentials to submit us to jobs. The point of them is so the hospital’s hiring manager has one system for all of the staffing agencies to submit us through, as well as standardize and streamline communication.

Who they are not: People. They have no feelings, problem-solving, or understanding. They are pretty much clunky online applications that your recruiters get to input your profile data into. Over and over again.

What they need and do: They are robots, and they are many times gate-keepers, allowing only “qualified” resumes on to the hiring managers. They need data to process. They need your recruiters to put the right data in the right order so they can process it correctly. Many times they “look” for certain words or criteria in order to let you through.

Who they interact with the most: Recruiters use them a lot. Think of a recruiter using a VMS like a travel tech using EMR (electronic medical records). Just like how hospitals have different EMR, like Epic and Cerner, VMSs are different too. And there are many of them. Similar to our documentation, most VMSs are terribly out-dated and a pain to use. Each agency has to use multiple VMS to find jobs. So have some love for your recruiter for putting all of your information from your resume into many different clunky VMSs repeatedly to submit you!
How to impress them: Think like a robot when you fill out your profile. What words might a human have programmed into a robot/computer to “look” for to show you are qualified? Use lots of them! Make sure your dates are inputted accurately so the robot can see you do have over a year of experience in the relevant fields so you don’t get blocked.

What motivates them: The code that built them. Whatever a human programmed them to do- they do.
What frustrates them: Nothing! They have no feelings. But a poorly written or incomplete profile will have you frustrated when you don’t get many interviews.

Travel allied health MSPs

There is a ton of information that goes into VMSs. Which means there needs to be a human to manage and sort through all of that information. That job is for an MSP, or “managed service provider.”
Pretend there is a top clinician at a hospital that was reading every single piece of documentation submitted. That person would be the MSP. And the VMS is the computer system they use. The MSP is the person or company chosen by the hospital to review applicants for job openings. They screen them based on their resumes to see if they are a good fit for the position they are applying for.

The pros

These players are really important because they allow staffing agencies to have access to a ton of jobs without having a sales team. In the old days, staffing agencies had to hire sales teams to cold-call hundreds of facilities to try to find ones with needs. Now, thanks to VMSs and the MSPs managing them, staffing agencies can see jobs the day they open. This system benefits hospitals also because it allows them to work with different agencies and have access to more qualified candidates.

The cons

The downside of this system is how not-so-great the technology behind it is. It hurts communication a lot. There’s also not much accountability between the MSP and the hospital they’re working for. The hospitals don’t always do a good job communicating what they need and the MSPs end up doing a lot of guessing, which doesn’t always make for a great situation. Ever heard of an allied health traveler showing up for a contract and the hospital didn’t even know they were coming? It really does happen!

The most important things to know about VMSs and MSPs

This system creates a barrier between the staffing agency and the actual hospital. This means it can be really difficult for your recruiter to go all the way up the telephone chain and back down to get a question answered for you about the job. As an allied health traveler, it is essential to learn how to ask good questions on the interview with the hiring manager. Your interview may be the only time you have access to someone actually at the facility before you show up for work, day one.

There are many different VMSs and MSPs out there. Your staffing agency will work with a mixture of some VMSs and some direct clients. Some of their jobs will cross over and be the same as another staffing agency and many will not. Some staffing agencies also have better relationships with the VMS and that helps you as the traveler. Working with 3 agencies gives you more opportunities! Make sure you have 3 agencies you trust and like to talk to about jobs in between contracts.

The other players

The VMS/MSP system isn’t the only player in this game. Check out the rest of these people (and the not-people too) and how they’re a part of your travel allied health journey.

  • The facility – The one who pays for everything else
  • Travel allied health agencies – Your employer & the middle man
  • The account manager – The facility’s point of contact
  • The recruiter – The most important player for the traveler experience
  • The allied health traveler: You! (The talent 😊)

 

Cheers to the travel allied health game being a win-win for everyone,

xo Laura

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Additional Reimbursements

Did your offer come with something extra that would cost the staffing agency money? This may include a CEU class, scrubs, or sign on bonuses. Don’t worry if this section is blank, most offers don’t have extra reimbursements.

Travel Reimbursements

This is tax-free money that is paid to you to help you pay for the expense of traveling to your assignment. Many staffing agencies pay for this per mile up to a certain amount. They will usually pay this on your first paycheck or split between your first paycheck and last. If you are traveling a short distance this could be a very small amount.

Also, it’s becoming more popular for an agency to not offer this at all. It’s really not a big deal though. If you don’t get travel reimbursement money you should make a bit more in your weekly pay so many times it all equals out.

Weekly Housing Stipends

If you have a tax home you can get money in two ways: Your taxable base pay per hour + tax-free stipends that help pay for your housing and meals in your new city. This is usually presented to travelers on a weekly or per shift basis.

The government tells the staffing agency the maximum they are allowed to pay travelers based on the cost of living in each zip code.

The staffing company does not usually get to pay us the full amount since they only have the amount the facility is willing to pay for us. That may end up being less than the government’s max, if so, no worries. This is okay as long as the total package is fair.

Weekly Meal Stipends

If you have a tax home you can get money in two ways: Your taxable base pay per hour + tax-free stipends that help pay for your housing and meals in your new city. This is usually presented to travelers on a weekly or per shift basis.

The government tells the staffing agency the maximum they are allowed to pay travelers based on the cost of living in each zip code. The staffing company does not usually get to pay us the full amount since they only have the amount the facility is willing to pay for us. That may end up being less than the government’s max, if so, no worries. This is okay as long as the total package is fair.

Weekly Insurance Costs

Medical insurance can impact your final paycheck a lot since it will deduct pay from your check each week. If you are taking the company health insurance, you are going to want to know up front about how much this will cost you per week.

The average is around $30 a week but some companies charge as much as $100 a week to their travelers and some offer some health insurance options for free. If you are not taking their insurance just set this to zero.

Hours per week

For this calculation, put the hours per week you are expecting to work. And then feel free to run it again with the hours you are guaranteed. Many times contracts have guaranteed hours that are lower than the expected hours.

Guaranteed hours means if the facility doesn’t need you to come in, you will still get paid as long as it was their choice and not yours to not work.

Also, find out if this contract has any “call off shifts” where the hospital can call you off without pay a certain number of times per contract. This is common and not a deal breaker but just good to know!

Length of assignment

In travel nurses and allied health the most common length of a travel assignment is 13 weeks. If you are looking for a contract shorter or longer just ask! Sometimes facilities or hospitals who hire you will be flexible.

Taxable rate per hour

If you have a tax home you can get money in two ways: Your taxable base pay per hour + tax-free stipends that help pay for your housing and meals in your new city.

If you do not have a tax home all of your pay will be taxed and put in this field.

Good to know: Your taxable base pay is the only part of your paycheck that is legally considered income. The average taxable base pay is $20 but you might get offers higher or lower than this. It’s the only part of your paycheck that is taxed

Nomadicare’s purpose is to empower. It’s the lifeblood that flows through every single thing we create. We are here to make sure every traveler has all the transparent knowledge they need to make empowered decisions. We want you to feel confident so you can live your dream!

Nomadicare is partnered with dozens of companies and each of those companies have access to different settings, locations, and exclusive contracts. We know their benefit options and who have jobs in each location. We will match you to the best recruiters for you and your goals. Every single recruiter has been vetted and comes with the Nomadicare guarantee.
You can browse the open jobs from many of our company partners on the Nomadicare’s anti bait and switch job board. When you see one that catches your eye, the goal is to apply asap. Jobs are closing faster than ever with all the craziness this year so speed is our best friend. When you request an interview, we’ll instantly match you with the vetted recruiter who posted that job.
Typically 0-3 months before you are ready to start your next assignment is best. A short quiz will give us a picture of who you are, and what you are looking for. After the quiz we’ll have everything we need to match you with the perfect recruirer for your travel goals
If you know where you want to go and you’re ready to travel, Instant Matching is perfect for you. You can browse the open jobs from many of our company partners on the Nomadicare’s anti bait-and-switch job board. When you see one that catches your eye, the goal is to apply asap. Jobs are closing faster than ever with all the craziness this year so speed is our best friend.
We highly recommended being ready! Having all of your documents and being super responsive are key. Speed is the biggest factor in getting the job you want. We recommend using a free service like Kamana, which you can share your online resume, credentials, and licenses with a single link to any of our vetted recruiters when requesting an interview.
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