Top Nursing Recruitment Agencies in USA

The nursing shortage has led to high demand and active nurse recruitment for both registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses, not just in the USA but around the world. No matter where a nurse is based, it’s a good idea to have some degree of knowledge about recruitment agencies – what they do/don’t do, how they operate and what to expect if you decide to use their services.

Types of Agencies

Although the terms may be used interchangeably, nurse recruitment agencies, staffing agencies and registries are not necessarily the same thing. A nurse recruitment agency may act as a go-between for people looking for a position and organizations looking to hire. Some nurse recruitment agencies and most staffing agencies hire their own staff and send them on assignment. Nurses who work for these agencies are often known as traveling nurses or travelers. A registry maintains a list of qualified personnel and (for a fee) provides candidates to patients/organizations who want to hire individuals as independent contractors.

Types of Supplemental Staffing in Health Care

Few organizations have the resources to keep enough people on the payroll at all times to cover issues such as seasonal volume swings, vacations, illness and similar issues. Many hospitals and other large healthcare organizations supplement their staff with outsiders. Supplemental staff come in four main types: PRN, seasonal, locum/travel contracts and local contracts. Each is slightly different.

PRN (an acronym for pro re nata) means as needed. This kind of staffing is sometimes called per diem or registry staffing. The employer is only looking to meet the immediate need, such as a high volume of staff sick calls. Sometimes PRN employees are scheduled for a shift or asked to be on call, but they are not guaranteed work and have no benefits.

Locum Tenens is another Latin phrase that translates as “place holder.” It is frequently applied to physicians. A locum works full time and is paid by the organization that hires him or her. The hiring organization pays a fee to the agency.

Travel contract is usually applied to non-physician staff who function in the same capacity as a locum (full time for a designated period).

A “local contract” is a term applied to someone who lives in the same area as the healthcare organization (as opposed to traveling from a home base somewhere else) but who functions as a locum in all other respects.

Locum, travel and local contracts are usually full-time (36 to 40 hours a week) and the typical contract is about three months. Unlike PRN workers, staff in these three groups become part of the normal scheduling process and their hours are guaranteed. They receive benefits through the agency rather than the healthcare organization that hires them.

Seasonal contracts are unique to parts of the country that typically have population spikes at certain times of the year. Many retired individuals who live in northern states, for example, travel to places like Arizona or Florida for the winter months. In most cases, hospitals hire seasonal workers directly for three to six month contracts. The pay may be higher but benefits are often limited or non-existent.

Choosing the Best of the Best

When trying to identify the “top” or “best” in a group, a certain amount of subjectivity is to be expected. However, certain characteristics can help. For example, an established agency that offers good wages and a wide variety of work locations should be considered above a fledgling enterprise. Benefits can also make a big difference to the employee. Ready availability of agency support personnel is also a plus. For nationwide agencies, multiple locations make it easier to work directly with support personnel.

Here are some of the top nursing recruitment agencies in the USA. Many offer their services free of charge to the nurses; they are paid by the organizations that are recruiting. Some actually hire the nurses themselves and send them on assignment.

Maxim Staffing Solutions, Columbia Maryland

Agency Type: Staffing agency. Maxim recruits and hires staff who are then sent out on assignment.

Works With: registered nurses, licensed practical/vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, respiratory therapists, medical social workers, pharmacists and professionals in the fields of rehabilitation, physician practice, radiology/imaging, medical administration, scientific or laboratory practice, and health information management.

Places Nurses: Throughout the US.

Characteristics: A division of Maxim Healthcare Services, Maxim Staffing Solutions has been in business for over 20 years. Although the corporate headquarters is based in Maryland, Maxim has offices all over the US. Staffing consultants available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Offers jobs in locations throughout the US, including many specialty assignments: inpatient, outpatient, detox, correctional, hospice and non-clinical jobs like utilization review. Maxim offers “competitive pay” with weekly paychecks and direct deposit. Benefits include dental, health, vision and life insurance, and a 401(K) plan.


Cirrus Medical Staffing; two locations: Charlotte North Carolina and Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Agency Type: Staffing agency

Works With: Registered nurse and rehab therapy professionals like physical and occupational therapists

Places Nurses: In the US and overseas

Characteristics: Joint Commission certified firm, in business for over 12 years. They will provide assistance with curriculum vitae development and coach you for interviews, and have a support team to help with travel needs. On-call support 24/7. Weekly payroll, competitive compensation rates, 401(K) plan. Offers health insurance that begins on day of hire. Cirrus offers new hire, loyalty and refer-a-friend bonuses. Provides free continuing education.


ALDA Technologies, located in Plano, Texas

Agency type: Recruitment agency. They also offer permanent placement and executive search services.

Works With: Registered nurses, physical therapists, allied health staff and information technology professionals, as well as workers in other fields

Places Nurses: ALDA recruits and places healthcare personnel from overseas in the US, Canada and England. For nurses, they place RNs from Australia, Austria, Canada, the Caribbean Islands, France, Ireland, India, the Philippines and South Africa. Proficiency in English and a bachelor’s degree in nursing or equivalent is required. Candidates must pass national licensing exams like the NCLEX-RN and have a valid visa (which may take month or even years). ALDA also works with the maritime industry and provides staff for offshore jobs.

Characteristics: Staff are placed in and paid by the healthcare organization, not ALDA, so benefits and wages vary. Foreign-born staff may have the option to have family members sponsored by the hiring organization.


ADEX Medical Staffing, LLC, is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. They also have offices in New York (New York), Atlanta (Georgia), Los Angeles (California) and Lake Worth (Florida) as well as overseas locations in Jordan and Korea.

Agency Type: Recruitment agency.

Works With: Registered nurses, licensed practical/vocational nurses and allied health workers.

Places Nurses: Throughout the US.

Characteristics: ADEX began as a staffing agency for global technology and branched into health care. The nurses they recruit are employed directly by the hiring organization. ADEX offers a variety of services to hep foreign nurses become acculturated, such as language skills training, a nurse mentorship program and customized training and orientation programs as well as help preparing for the NCLEX exams.


Agency: Comprehensive Medical Staffing, Chicago, Illinois

Agency Type: Staffing agency

Works With: Registered nurses, licensed practical/vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, phlebotomists, medical assistants, health information management workers, radiology and imaging technicians and technologists, and rehabilitation professionals.

Places Nurses: in Chicago and surrounding area

Characteristics: Comprehensive has been in business for over 12 years and is accredited A+ by the Better Business Bureau. They provide both permanent and temporary staffing.


Assignment America, headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida

Agency Type: Staffing agency

Works With: Registered nurses

Places Nurses: Throughout the US, with a strong focus on California, Florida and New England

Characteristics: The international arm of Cross Country Staffing, Inc. and an affiliate of Cross Country Healthcare, Inc., Assignment America has been placing nurses and other healthcare professionals since 1975. They have contracts with 80 percent of the top hospitals (as rated by US News and World Report) in the US. Nurses work for Assignment America for the duration of their contracts. They offer competitive salaries, referral bonuses and a choice between an 18-month or 24-month contract. Benefits include basic life, health and dental insurance, professional liability coverage and a 401(K) plan.


International MedLink, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, with a branch in Manila, the Philippines

Agency Type: Recruitment and staffing agency

Works With: Registered nurses

Places Nurses: In the US and worldwide

Characteristics: International MedLink partners with Vanderbilt University and requires that all of its nurses go through a 12-week orientation and training program before they actually immigrate. Nurses are employed by the individual facility, so wages and benefits vary.


Pacific Link Healthcare, main office in Atlanta, Georgia, with affiliate locations in England, the Philippines and India

Agency Type: Staffing agency

Works With: Registered nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists

Places Nurses: Throughout the US

Characteristics: The focus of this company is on helping foreign nurses meet the requirements for licensure and green card in order to work in the US. It has been in business since 1999.


Shearwater Health, headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee with branches in the Philippines

Agency Type: Recruitment agency

Works With: Registered nurses, especially those in the Philippines

Places Nurses: Throughout the US and globally

Characteristics: Offers a referral bonus. Nurses contract with Shearwater but are paid by the individual organization. Offers assistance on immigration and preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam, obtaining certifications such as BLS, PALS and ACLS. Coaches nurse for client interviews.


Stateside Network International, headquartered in San Francisco, California

Agency Type: Recruitment and staffing agency.

Works With: Registered nurses and other occupations such as those in information technology and the culinary field.

Places Nurses: Throughout the US

Characteristics: in addition to contract opportunities, Stateside Network International offers some permanent placements and also has a number of work study programs in various fields. Participants work directly for the client organizations.


Wilson Staffing Network, LLC, headquartered in Houston, Texas

Agency Type: Recruitment and staffing agency

Works With: Registered nurses, licensed practical/vocational nurses, certified nurse assistants, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, occupational therapists, occupational therapist assistants, speech language pathologists and allied health professionals

Places Nurses: Throughout the US; recruits domestically and globally

Characteristics: Over 20 years of experience. Provides temporary staffing and will also assist in finding permanent long-term staff.


AMN Healthcare, headquartered in San Diego, California, with offices in multiple states across the country

Agency Type: Recruitment and staffing agency

Works With: Registered nurses, physicians and allied health workers

Places Nurses: In the US and internationally

Characteristics: Offers a wide range of services, including traditional travel nurse staffing, locum nurses, per diem nurses and permanent nurse placements. Also provides senior level candidates like nurse managers, nursing directors and chief nurse executives. Offers support staff for electronic medical record implementations. Will customize assignment lengths. Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval. Will contract with organization to perform all recruitment and staffing on a permanent basis.


Ask a Nurse

Sometimes nurses themselves offer insights into the “best” or “top” agencies. The Gypsy Nurse, an online organization dedicated to traveling nurses, surveyed its members by asking a single open-ended question: “What is the best agency to work for?” They received responses from 586 members who rated traveling nurse organizations (many of which act as recruitment or staffing agencies) as follows:

  1. Trinity Healthcare Staffing Group
  2. RN Network
  3. Medical Solutions
  4. Talemed
  5. Professional Nursing Service
  6. Cirrus Medical Staffing
  7. Randstad
  8. Fortus Medical Group
  9. Core Medical Group
  10. PPR Staffing

The American Association of Foreign Educated Nurses has an extensive list of international nurse recruiters on its website. Cornerstone Staffing – an industry staffing analyst organization – also has a list of the top staffing firms as of 2015, although their list includes all kinds of firms, not just nurse recruiters. For a fee, IBISWorld, a global business intelligence leader, will provide you with an extensive market research report of healthcare staff recruitment agencies.

Working With a Nurse Recruiter

Whether you’re a nurse in another country or born and bred in the USA, you might be wondering if it’s worthwhile to work with a nurse recruiter. If you decide to partner, here are some considerations:

  • Make sure the recruiter specializes in health care, and even better, in nursing recruitment. Health care is a very specialized field, and it’s vital that a recruiter speaks the language and knows the right questions to ask.
  • Look for a partner. You want someone who will spend the necessary time to coach you, help with your resume and make sure no stone is left unturned when it comes to possible opportunities. Good recruiters are often tapped in to jobs that aren’t even advertised and that can lead off the beaten path of a hospital or clinic job.
  • Do your home work. Check out the company’s website. Look for indications of quality like Better Business Bureau certifications or accreditation by the Joint Commission. Look to see if they have affiliates and whether their client list includes the sort of organization you want to work for.
  • Take your time. It’s unlikely that the ideal job is gong to appear within hours of your contacting the recruiter. You also want to see if you can establish rapport – do you trust this person? A recruiter should be asking questions that help flesh out a picture – your motivations, the things that are important to you and the deal-breakers. The recruiter should teat you as an individual, not a number.

Immigration Issues

If you’re considering immigrating to the US, whether temporarily or permanently, here are some of the things you’ll need to do. By the way, only registered nurses can immigrate to the US; there are no visa classifications available for any other type of nurse. Nurses from Canada and Mexico can get employment visas relatively easily because the US has work agreements with those countries. The nurse must have an employment offer, be licensed in either Canada or Mexico and hold a California RN license. Non-immigrant visas include the H-1B Temporary Professional and the H-1C. Most RNs don’t qualify for the H-1B, as it is designed for positions in which a four-year degree is required. Generally those include nurse supervisors, nurse trainers or educators and advanced practice nurses. You must have a job offer in one of those specific positions. H-1C visas are for medically underserved areas. In 1999, Congress passed a law that allows 500 nurses to enter the US to work in hospitals that have a minimum of 190 beds and are located in designated shortage areas (that’s only about a dozen hospitals in the US).

Most foreign-born nurses apply for permanent residence. The process takes about a year, even though it has been “facilitated” for registered nurses. In order to immigrate you must have a job offer, and the organization must be wiling to wait at least a year before you actually start the job. You must be a registered nurse in the country whether you obtained your nursing education and either pass the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) exam or the NCLEX-RN exam. The position must be full-time, and most (but not all, so do your research) nursing positions qualify for permanent residence. You’ll need to complete all the necessary immigration paperwork (you might want to consult an immigration attorney, as this is very intensive and complicated).

One reason so many foreign nurses work with a recruiting or staffing agency in order to come to work in the US is the complexity and amount of documentation needed. For example, here’s the list of requirements from Cirrus, which should be pretty much the same for all international recruiting agencies:

Nursing Qualifications:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing
  • At least six months of recent clinical experience in a tertiary care hospital that has over 100 beds
  • Fluent English and strong written and communication skills in the language
  • A form I-797 USCIS Notice (a standard immigration form) with a priority date or proof of a previous I-140 application

After completing the Cirrus application, the candidate must also provide the following documentation:

  • Resume with relevant experience and demographic information
  • Training and continuing education certificates
  • Employment certificates
  • A US RN license (if applicable)
  • A CGFNS Visa screen
  • Proof of passing the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam
  • Proof of passing the NCLEX-RN exam
  • Current passport
  • Nursing diploma, certificate or degree plus transcripts
  • Proof of RN license in the country where you received your nursing education.

Another important reason for foreign nurses to work with a recruitment agency is the issue of acculturation. In addition to the social and cultural differences of living in a new country, many medical and nursing terms are different from one country to another. Health care in America is very high tech and the equipment may be unfamiliar. Health care systems are also different. For example, a number of European countries have socialized medical care, which can be very different from that of the US. Finding housing can be an issue in some areas. Then there are all the minor difficulties such as getting a driver’s license, understanding how the currency works and the social nuances of a new culture.

Whether your interest is in traveling to various jobs with in the US, immigrating from another country or finding the help you need to advance your career, nurse recruiting and staffing agencies offer a number of valuable services. There are many options besides those listed here. Take the time to find one that’s right for you.


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Written by 3rd Independent party

2017-38965 Exp. 10/17