Interview with PanTravelers President, Phil Light, RN

Career Advice, Travel Nursing

group of travel nursesWhen was PanTravelers founded?

It had its beginnings as a discussion by a group of healthcare travelers in July of 2005. Our official opening date was rather appropriately on May Day 2007, the international worker’s day.  In August 2008 the IRS granted us the designation of a tax-exempt non-profit organization.

What is your role in the organization?

I am the current president and one of the founding directors.

Why was it started?

Before we started the association, travelers did not have a dedicated organization committed to representing their interests, nor a unified voice within the industry. PanTravelers was founded to fill that void. There was and is still an immense amount of myth and misinformation circulating among both travelers and agencies. We recognized a need for an authoritative source of accurate information available to all travelers.

What is the mission of PanTravelers?

Our one and  only agenda is to help travelers succeed and enjoy this career path.  The Association website, (for Professional Association of Nurse Travelers), was established with the central role of keeping members well informed regarding current issues and to serve as a comprehensive educational resource. Our larger vision is to improve the conditions for the entire industry; healthcare travelers, agencies, hospitals and patients. The association identifies key issues of concern to travelers, researches solutions, and defines st and ards that foster safe, healthy, and humane work environments for travelers.

How many members are there?

We are approaching 6,000 members.

Who can be a member?

Anyone can become a member. Although most of our members by far are nurse travelers, a significant number are allied health practitioners who travel for employment. Even agencies and individual recruiters join PanTravelers. As the most authoritative source of information about our industry anywhere, some agencies send their recruiters to PanTravelers to learn. Some recruiters, just like travelers, find our resources useful and definitive, such as our state nursing board information.

How do they become a member?

Simply by visiting our website – Becoming a Basic Member is free and allows access to a wide range of information and resources. Contributing Members paying a small annual due can access additional resources and content, including legal services.

What tools are provided to travelers who are member?

We think information is by far the most potent tool.  Our deep website contains more useful information for travelers than anywhere else. We present professional insights from experienced travelers, i.e. “Tricks of the Trade”, many in-depth articles about issues specific to travelers, a powerful Traveler’s Calculator to compare agency offers and to assist in negotiating and structuring offers, legal advice and legal services from our own legal counsel – one of the top employment attorneys in the country, tax tips and advice from our in-house tax expert – one of the nation’s best known tax professionals for travelers, unbiased education about choosing an agency or an assignment, and a growing library of superior travel documents designed specifically for healthcare travelers.

What are two of your organizations biggest accomplishments?

Foremost I would say establishing and exp and ing, the most substantial and up to date traveler knowledge-base anywhere, with extensive expert and unbiased articles covering nearly every aspect of healthcare travel, many having unique information not available anywhere else on the internet.

Another milestone was establishing legal services available to full members of the Association. Through education we try to give travelers the knowledge they need to avoid legal pitfalls, as we concurrently work to educate agencies about best practices and encourage their use in conducting business.  When prevention fails, the Association retains one of the top employment attorneys in the country who can intervene on behalf of our members to help resolve contract disputes between travelers and agencies.

If I could sneak in one more accomplishment… it is that we are very proud of some of our unique content. Two that come quickly to mind are a very well researched history of the travel industry (the only one available in fact), and the article on how to negotiate a travel contract. Negotiating is like public speaking, and is very stressful for most Americans. The article walks the traveler through every step required, and it’s over before they even know they were negotiating!

What are the future plans for PanTravelers?

We are growing rapidly, and with our growth we are better able to influence industry practices through a number of initiatives. We plan to collaborate with agencies more closely in the future to identify best practices and the agencies that follow best practices. We are continuing to develop resources for travelers and agencies, for example better skills checklists. We have significantly outgrown our current website and are currently in the process of revamping the underlying technology to offer better services for our members.

What role does the organization play in dealing with travel nursing companies?

Through many paths, the Association works with agencies to encourage these best practices and eliminate poor policies, this being in the best interests of not only our members, but of agencies as well. Travelers cannot prosper without healthy agencies.

Anything else you want readers to know about PanTravelers?

Only that professionals considering healthcare travel owe it to themselves to join. Healthcare travel is a great career choice, but travelers face some unique challenges.  As an association member, you are allied with a broader group of experienced professionals lending you the tools and knowledge you need to maximize a career as a traveler, or even a limited stint as a traveler while looking for a place to settle down.

Can you provide a quick bio of yourself?

Founder of PanTravelers

Following 12 years in the back of an ambulance with EMS, I attended Western Kentucky University, and was one of the very first males to complete that school’s nursing degree program. I’ve been working in hospitals at the bedside since 1988.  After more than a decade working in local Emergency Departments, I got the travel bug myself – attracted by the relatively higher pay, a desire to exp and my professional skills, and by the promise of working in exotic (to me) locations.

It soon became evident to me that travelers can be somewhat isolated while on assignment, cut off from friends and family, and with no central support network. I found that a fine source of camaraderie while on the road was online nursing forums. On one such forum I began discussions with like-minded travelers, and together we decided to take on the task of forming the first national association for travelers.

I am a currently working Registered Nurse traveler, and President of the Professional Association of Nurse Travelers (PanTravelers).

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