Wealth Podcast Post

Travel Nursing with Jeremy Commisso

George Grombacher May 8, 2022

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Travel Nursing with Jeremy Commisso

LifeBlood: We talked about the travel nursing career, how it differs from traditional nursing, what the current and future need is, and who it’s a good fit for with Jeremy Commisso, CEO of Nurse First Travel Agency.  

Listen to learn how credibility is tied to consistency!

You can learn more about Jeremy at Nurse1stTravel.com, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn..

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Jeremy Commisso

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on Bob Leffler. This is George G. And the time is right to welcome today’s guest strong and powerful. Jeremy, Jeremy. Comma. So Jeremy, how you ready to do this?

Jeremy Commisso 0:19
Absolutely. George, man, I’ve been looking forward to it.

george grombacher 0:21
excited to have you on. Jeremy is the owner and CEO of nurse first travel agency. He’s working to champion the travel nurse industry by promoting genuine partnerships and advocacy. Jeremy, tell us a little about your personal life smart about your work and why you do what you

Jeremy Commisso 0:38
do. Yeah, man. Absolutely. So you know, first and foremost, I’m a father of a soon to be two year old daughter, which, which is exciting. on its own. She’s, she’s absolutely great. And then I’m also engaged to be married, you know, fall of next year 2023. So, a lot of exciting things going on in the personal life. And, you know, kind of what got me to this point in what it is I do was, do you see an issue and you set out to solve it? You know, ignorance was certainly bliss. I think if I knew what I didn’t know, going into it, I probably would not be on this podcast with you. But yeah, so basically, you know, again, founder and CEO of nurse, first travel agency, and much like you said, our mission is to turn staffing opportunities into amazing employment experiences, both for travel nurses and other health care professionals, as well as hospitals and other health care facilities, replacing these travel healthcare professionals at to fill their staffing needs, with really just the vision of being quite simply to make staffing and employment better.

george grombacher 1:45
Nice, I appreciate that. So I’ve been hearing for years that there aren’t enough nurses, and they have literally heard that for 30 years. So I don’t know if that’s true or not, can you kind of give me a breakdown of of what that looks like.

Jeremy Commisso 2:03
Absolutely. So I don’t know if they’ve even published the latest statistics since COVID. But I know previously in like 2019, or 2020, pre COVID, they were talking about 1 million are in shortage by 2026. I think if nothing else, that’s at least an expedited. You know, for multiple reasons, you know, originally it was due to, you know, the baby boomer generation, both getting out of the workforce and needing more care, as well. As you know, there’s really a giant push even pre COVID For advanced practice nursing. So, you know, the days of our parents and grandparents and our aunts and uncles becoming an RN, and staying as a bedside RN for 30 or 40 years before they retire. That’s, that’s largely a thing of the past, it seems, you know, the big the big push is you go get your nurse practitioner, you become a, you know, Nurse Anesthetists or any of these other avenues, whether it be management, education, etc. And, you know, then you throw in COVID. And, you know, the great, you know, resignations of burnout that came along with it, especially with healthcare professionals that were on the front line. And it’s really just again, you know, kind of exacerbated any pain points that they were having going into COVID. And it has certainly, like you said, just increased the need for healthcare professionals to not only love what they do and who they’re working for while taking care of the patient. But you know, really kind of reigniting so to say that passion that got them in to the healthcare field itself.

george grombacher 3:49
And it’s, it’s fascinating. Well, I don’t know if the term is fascinated or not, but it’s understandable why you could get burned out in healthcare, and certainly being a nurse just thinking about it. Like my goodness, this all the different challenges that people face. How often do people go from being that bedside RN to been a traveling nurse?

Jeremy Commisso 4:17
Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, especially during COVID, it’s become, you know, publicly, it’s been in the public spot spotlight here on news, but even pre COVID It was a rapidly growing industry, I believe, pre COVID We’re like a $15 billion industry. And I think year over year, there was a 20% growth over the last couple years. I’m not mistaking, between, you know, just in our industry, both as far as people joining and wanting to become a travel nurse as well as, you know, the revenue that came because of the different increased rates that hospitals were offering, which also, you know, was a big, you know, attracting attractive factor that you know, really liked Good nurses don’t want to go to go through this. So, you know, it’s it’s one of those things, again, it’s just where we’re seeing bedside nurses go to travel nursing, it’s almost the same dynamic as to why a lot of them are going into an advanced practice of some sort. And these guys were, you know, they want a change of pace, they want to see the world or at least see the country and really get to embrace and immerse themselves into a culture of wherever they’re going to be. I always said when I was traveling, you know, everywhere is great for one weekend at a time, but when you’re there for three months, which is what these traditional contracts are, you get to really experience the place, and you get to experience it as a local to some regard while making fantastic money, oftentimes 234 plus times as much as what they might have made as a staff nurse, but they have the luxury of going from California, and then three months later going to New Hampshire or wherever they would like to go across the country. And they there’s just a lot of perks that come with it. There’s certainly some drawbacks. Where I think one of the things a lot of people maybe talk about a little bit as well, there’s not a big job security or your cancer contract and just get canceled. That’s true. But that’s really one of the agents who makes their money, right. It’s do don’t pay us for what we do, do always it’s pay us for what we can do. And that’s kind of where we make our cut. You know, really being that advocate for our health care professionals and ensuring that it is something that is sustainable, something that is absolutely and thoroughly enjoyable, and something that they really feel like they’re not in it alone is really where we come into play.

george grombacher 6:46
Yeah, that certainly does make sense. I was just sort of putting myself in the shoes of, of, of somebody who would be interested in travel nursing. And what would be what would I be concerned with certainly the certainty of, well, I don’t want to get there and then we don’t like each other so that I’m, I’m out of a job. If I don’t have the right procedures in place of the systems, it won’t be sustainable, because I’ll just feel like I’m living out of a suitcase. And while it’s sort of am, there’s ways that you can probably put systems around, moving from place to place and really acclimating quickly. So all that makes a ton of sense. I didn’t realize that the compensation was so much higher.

Jeremy Commisso 7:29
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, really, just to kind of get an a high level overview of the flow of money. It’s, you know, basically the hospital is in a crisis of some regard, right, they, if you don’t have the patients, and staff the beds, if you can’t staff, the beds, you can’t make the revenue off of the patients, etc. And so, you know, hospitals will pay, you know, a premium free COVID It’s roughly 70 $80 an hour for these travel nurses, they pay that to the agency for every hour that this ER nurse goes and works at their facility. It may sound like a lot, but it’s really not much more than what they paid for their employees. Because they’re 70 or $80 an hour, they pay the healthcare staffing agency like nurse first. That’s no strings attached. There’s no benefits, nothing gets that’s all inclusive, it’s on the staffing agency to provide the benefits, the salary taxes, any housing or living in meals and incidentals, stipends that may come along with it, travel reimbursements, and all of that, that’s really all coming from us. So, you know, I believe at one point I saw, if a nurse is making $35 an hour at a hospital when you include PTO benefits, both medical, dental and otherwise 401k, salary taxes, etc. It’s much like the hospitals paying 60 to $65 an hour for that employee. So when you put it in that context, it’s you know, it doesn’t seem like much more, but by being a transient worker, and being eligible in the instances that they are eligible for, you know, tax exempt stipends for you know, housing reimbursement, travel, reimbursement, etc. And that’s really where they get to come out ahead. And, again, at the very least, even if you’re making the exact same amount that you get, and go anywhere in the country that you want to go to, for multiple different reasons, whether it be to figure out where you want to live and where you want to actually plant roots, or just to simply say, look, I want to escape all hospital politics and you know, not have to worry about time off, I can just take time off in between assignments, and just get a really experienced and, you know, grow my craft. So to stay by seeing how multiple reputable hospitals across the country, do the same general things.

george grombacher 9:45
Are there good. That makes a ton of sense. I’ve certainly worked in large organizations and I’m aware that politics are a reality when that does happen. And also, what a cool opportunity to be able to go into duck out North Carolina or Scottsdale, Arizona, or what XYZ place and to figure out is this a place that I can really see myself living? So in terms of of what y’all are doing to make that process easier, how, how was what you’re doing different?

Jeremy Commisso 10:21
Yeah, so really, and it’s going to sound too simple, um, there’s no way that this could be it. But that’s the idea. It’s, it’s really just doing the right thing. You know, at nurse first we’ve done we’ve just tweaked that norms of our industry intentionally to be some sort of a disrupter. And, you know, I guess the the little bit higher level overview of it that kind of led us to this point was, I always said, as a travel nurse, I personally experienced that it was an agency versus nurse, non agency with nurse industry culture. And, you know, being on this side, I get it, I can see how it’s easy to fall into that. But I think, you know, it’s what you prioritize gets done, what you measure gets done in what you incentivize gets done. Correct. So, for us, we aren’t in it to make as much money as we can per traveler per contract. Our whole goal, when we first started this company, or when I first started the company, was to make money by volume and growth of the movement, which is nurse first. And you do that by not giving the nurse if you get $75 an hour from the hospital, you don’t pay the nurse $75 an hour, but you pay them what is fair, you we don’t negotiate our rates, because we give the best that we can possibly give, we always quote, our pay packages at a 21 and a half percent gross profit margin, which usually leads to about a 10%. net margin, we believe that’s extremely fair, because nurses shouldn’t have to negotiate for fair compensation where the agency doesn’t make a dime off of them, if they don’t work for you anyways, and worse comes to worse. Even if you do maybe negotiate a 30% Gross Margin contract, we’re making that much more money, which is great. But they go in, they talk to other travel nurses at the hospital and quickly doesn’t learn they’re being underpaid in comparison to this person. And not only are you going to lose that travel nurse, you’re going to have to swim upstream to basically make up for that person, right, because you’re not only having to get one more person to just sustain. Now you’re also fighting them talking poorly about you. That’s not what we want. You know, at nurse first, we’re not always the highest paying. But we are always extremely competitive and our pay packages. But that’s just one piece. You know, we have contracts with 1000s of hospitals across the country. So we have the opportunities that they would be interested in. But really our secret sauce is the experience that we are committed to providing these travel nurses, you know, oftentimes, and I think, again, COVID exacerbated this for almost every profession, not just nurse first. And it’s not even intentional by employers, but it’s, you know, it just happened, people don’t quit jobs, oftentimes because of the job, they probably just would never have taken the job. If that were the case, they quit it because of leadership management and feeling undervalued. Well, that nurse first we commit to basically the exact opposite. We want them to feel valued, you know, at nurse first, our corporate hierarchy hierarchy of importance, so to say, is not the traditional shareholder customer, but then often at the detriment to the employee. For us, it is the employee, which is oftentimes our internal employee, because if you treat them well, they’re going to really want to represent proudly the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. And if they do that, they then do everything they can to make sure that these travel nurses that are working with us have as enjoyable of an experience as they can. Because really, especially for our traveler advocates, that that is something that, you know, it’s, you know, kind of their gig economy, so to say right, the best way to grow their book of business is by referrals. They don’t have to sell someone on us because someone already sold them and they trust that person more than what they trust the traveler and they can’t because they’re just a sales guy. Well, you know, it’s you can’t pay people to want to send people to you, of course, you can have referral bonuses and help incentivize and thank them for doing so. But, you know, we want people to genuinely want to tell everybody there is about us in a positive way. And, and that takes effort, you know, it’s not work, work, you know, speaks to something that has to be difficult, it’s effort, it just takes effort. And that’s where our commitment to providing them with the greatest experience, the greatest employment experience that we can, really comes in, and then also for the hospitals, right, we want to have, we want to provide a great experience for these hospitals with the quality of people we actually put in their hospitals that allows us to gain and earn more business, but then down the road, it allows us to place more travelers in these places and get quicker offers, when you know, offers come and go and jobs open and closed by the day. That’s what, you know, that’s what we’re really committed to is never sacrificing quality over anything. And always focusing on the experience of our customers, which are the healthcare facilities and the travel nurses.

george grombacher 15:24
I love it. That makes a ton of sense. How many hospitals are there in the United States? Is that a noble question?

Jeremy Commisso 15:31
Um, give or take a few 1000 between 15,000. And so I think there’s about 15,000 hospitals across the country. So yeah, there’s, there’s tons of tons of places to go.

george grombacher 15:44
And if if I were a nurse, would I have the opportunity to like there’s constant openings for travel nurses?

Jeremy Commisso 15:53
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, right now we have 1000s of openings on our job, or on our job board as it is. And we still probably only have about 25 contracts with about 25% of the hospitals in the country. So you know, there are constant opportunities. And one thing we always told travel nurses, is, hey, just because you don’t see that we have an opening at a hospital you’d be interested in even if we don’t have the contract with the hospital. The quickest, best, most effective way to earn a contract with a hospital is immediately say, hey, we know you have an ER opening. Here’s an ER nurse here, they’re super qualified, we’d love to come to your hospital. It’ll, so we placed them there. And you know, what this kind of, you know, be what allows us to have this contract with you moving forward. So yeah, so opportunities are absolutely plentiful. And you know, as long as they’re licensed or willing to get licensed in the state of their interest, and they are qualified to work at the hospital. And at that, in that department, by all means absolutely.

george grombacher 16:55
Nice. Well, Jeremy, the people are ready for that different speaking tip, what do you have for them?

Jeremy Commisso 17:01
Oh, man, so, you know, I thought on this, and I, I really have two, if that’s okay. You know, the first is kind of what I hit on a little while ago. You know, one of my Jeremy isms a lot of our employees like to say, that I have is credibility is directly tied to consistency. And at nurse First, there’s nothing we do that is absolutely earth shattering, right, we’re not here, we’re not curing COVID, we’re not the best thing to medicine since penicillin. But what we do is extremely simple. However, we are absolutely consistent in what we do. You know, I believe that, you know, mission vision, core values are just words unless they are lived out. And they are truly the guiding light for every action and decision that is made throughout every single day. If you deviate so much as one time, you can never earn the right to say this is who we are. Now, that’s just who you are, when it’s convenient. So credibility being directly tied to consistency, I think is one and then the other is, you know, kind of how we operate on an even deeper level, which is, you know, another Jeremy ism they say I have is the easiest way to instill trust into someone by not just providing them with the information that they didn’t even ask for. But by providing them with information they didn’t even know they needed to know, this is kind of the difference between answering a question for someone so they know the answer or helping them understand. So they can really, you know, have a deep that deep understanding of what what it is they’re doing and how they’re affecting whoever it is affecting or even why we’re not going to give them the solution that they were hoping for. You know, it’s, again, these are all professionals, these are partners with us, that’s how we view it, it’s us with them, not us versus them. We want our internal staff or healthcare professionals in the hospitals to all understand what goes into everything. So again, you know, instill genuine trust into people not by you know, just paying for it or, you know, begging them for it by wanting them to be trusting us wanting them. And, you know, giving them every reason to trust us by showing Hey, we go above and beyond to truly, you know, help you understand. So there are no secrets. We don’t want secrets. And that’s those are a couple things.

george grombacher 19:21
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets caught. Credibility is tied to consistency. I think that is excellent right there. and easiest way to provide and instill trust is to deliver on what you say but also give people the information that they didn’t even realize that they needed to know. Jeremy, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you and nurse first to travel agency?

Jeremy Commisso 19:46
Yeah, Georgia appreciate it, man. But yeah, I think a few different places is obviously on Facebook where you can follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, you know, Jeremy comment, so Jay comma, so for one Mine is my IG handle. Nurse first. We’re also nurse first travel agency is on Facebook is on LinkedIn, Instagram, our website, we are constantly putting out a bunch of material in form of blogs, other social media postings to really be a thought leader for a lot of people interested in our industry.

george grombacher 20:21
Excellent. And what is the website address?

Jeremy Commisso 20:25
It is nurse first travel.com First is the number one S T. So nurse number one st tra ve l.com

george grombacher 20:34
Excellent. Well if you enjoyed this as much as I did to Jimmy appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas or somebody who happens to be in the healthcare nursing profession. Go to nurse first travel.com It’s and u r s e the letter one s t travel.com. Find Jeremy on social media list all those in the notes of the show. Thanks good. Jeremy

Jeremy Commisso 20:56
knew that George. Thanks for having me.

george grombacher 20:58
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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