Which Agency Should I Choose?

I'm currently on assignment working three 12-hr shifts.  I feel like I've scored the social work lottery:  a three-day work week!  Because of this, I mostly rested and recouped yesterday...but I've been watching the poll I created in the facebook group. It seems that most members are interested in deciding which agency to choose, so we'll tackle that.

I've traveled with two companies over the nearly three years.  They're very different in the assignments they offer and how they pay, so I can understand the confusion about who to choose.  If you're planning on getting in to travel, I think there are a few questions one has to ask when considering agencies.

1)  What is your background as a social worker?
The relevance of this question, I think is the most important.  If you have only behavioral health experience as an outpatient, this will potentially limit with whom you can travel right out of the gate.  Most agencies offer as their bread and butter travel positions:  Inpatient MEDICAL social work/case management positions.  This means, they generally require at least one year of inpatient medical experience.

You can sometimes get around this if you have inpatient behavioral health experience.  If this is the case, on your resume, describe your job using buzzwords like "hospital,"  "unit," "interdisciplinary rounds," etc.   I have certainly worked with several travel social workers at their first medical hospital with only behavioral health experience - sometimes it was successful and other times, they had difficulty with the pace and lingo.

If you have inpatient medical experience, is it medical social work or case management experience?


  • If you have behavioral health outpatient or inpatient experience, I'd look at the AMN companies, which include MedTravelers and Club Staffing.
  • If you have behavioral health outpatient counseling experience or are interested in working with the military, I'd look at Magellan.  I can suggest Elizabeth Joseph.
  • If you have case management experience, I'd look at MedPartners.  They definitely require case management experience and send you through testing before onboarding you to make sure you understand Medicare guidelines.  I can recommend Diane Darrell - contact me for her email address!
  • For Medical Case Management positions:
  • If you have medical social work/non-case management oriented - hospital, hospice, home health, sometimes school, occasionally substance abuse counseling, look at  
2)  What length of contract are you interested in?
This is an important question because some people just want to dip their toe in the travel work pond, whereas others want to dive right in.  Diving in can look different to everyone.  Personally, I dove in, but traveled with a company whose contracts generally were all 13 weeks.  I loved that because if I didn't like a location, I got to leave in 13 weeks!  If you like stability and consistency, 13 week contracts can seem a little scary, and that's understandable too.  I'm now on a contract with a six-month minimum and I had to weigh out if that was something I wanted to do.  The answer was yes.

  • If you're looking for short contracts, AMN is a great place to start.  They have the most jobs, the most consistently.  They occasionally offer longer contracts.
  • If you're looking for longer contracts to start, MedPartners is a good option.  
    • Magellan's Military and Family Life Counseling program offers 52 week contracts - so if you're looking for a reset button and feel like a year away is for you, check it out.
3)  Are there places on your must-travel list?
I know this might not seem all too important in the beginning, and you can actually figure this out as you go, but it is a good question to consider.  When I started out, I had the Hawai'i bug and it was insatiable.  One of the first questions I asked my recruiter after I started was, can you get me to Hawai'i.  His answer:  "not immediately, but yes.  We get Hawai'i contracts."  I'm in.  Same thing with Alaska.  The more job boards you start monitoring, the more you'll see which agencies get which jobs.

4)  What benefits are you looking for?
Back when I started this adventure, buying insurance through the ACA was pretty affordable.  Things have changed and benefits have become important to me.  As a traveler, most of the time, you're a contract worker, and therefore, you aren't eligible for PTO - there are some agencies that offer this, and it's a delight!  But they all offer insurance.  If you contact a recruiter and are starting to onboard, find out what the cost of their health insurance is and find out if they offer other benefits.  Some good things to consider - does the agency offer:
  • Health insurance?
  • PTO?
  • Travel to and from assignment?
  • Mileage/fuel reimbursement?
  • Continuing Education?
  • Licensing?
If you are looking for temporary work and don't want to travel far, consider looking at Social Work PRN and Maxim.  They offer short term positions, but don't necessarily offer the travel benefits that you'll find with the agencies listed above.  I have worked with Social Work PRN and enjoyed the experience.

Let me know if you have any more specific questions!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I want to be a resource, who tells it like it is... which, most of the time, is nebulous!

  2. Thanks this is very helpful!! I just started researching (domestic) travel social work as an option and it's great to find info and resources from a social worker.

    1. My pleasure! There's not a lot of info out there, but there are more than enough jobs, so I'm happy to encourage and share. If you end up applying, consider using my referral links on this page 😁

  3. Hi,

    Love this blog! Glad I found it! Can you give me the information for Diane Darrell? I'd like to reach out to someone and appreciate knowing it's someone you personally recommend. Thanks! Keep it up!

    1. Absolutely, you can email Diane at diane.darrell@medpartners.com

      She's a creative thinker and really works with her consultants to get them the best.

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  5. Thank you for providing such helpful information. I've been considering the possibility of trying traveling social work and did not know where to start.

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