FAQ: Getting Started With CMS

Chesapeake Medical Staffing is proud to offer diverse staffing Full-Time (Contract or Travel) and Per Diem opportunities. Our approach gives you the flexibility to work as little as one day a month, or collect overtime pay weekly – from the widest array of options in the area. Here are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about getting started with CMS.

Can I convert my current contract assignment to CMS?

Yes! Agency clinicians are empowered to take their assignment through the agency of their choice. If you are unhappy with your agency for any reason, or would rather be a CMS employee, we can inform the hospital or client and facilitate your extension to go through CMS.

How often am I paid, and by whom? How do I confirm my hours?

CMS will pay you on a weekly basis. Every facility has its own way of tracking your time and you will have that information in detail before you start. We also provide you with ample reminders to ensure accurate payroll. Once you receive your schedule from your facility, send it to your recruiter or scheduling coordinator so that we know when you are working and can make sure you are always paid accurately and on time. Please help us help you: tells us your schedule, and send in your time statements in accordance with that facility’s policies.  If we have your schedule but don’t receive your time statement, we’ll give you a courtesy call to remind you to send it in.  

Can I pursue PRN opportunities while under contract?

Absolutely, and remember we pay OT at 1.5x our standard rates for any hours over 40.

How long do I have to be on contract before pursuing a staff job at the facility?

The standard CMS employment agreement requires you to work 1,000 hours at the facility before taking a staff position, but CMS is happy to pursue staff transitions earlier if we can work out an agreement with the facility directly. Keep in mind 1,000 hours is just two 13-week assignments.

Can I take a contract in a unit other than my specialty?

Usually not, but if the units are very similar we can always check to see if the manager is willing to cross train. Our clients need someone who can hit the ground running which is why ample current experience is almost always required.  

How many years of experience are required?

Typically 2 years in the available specialty, but if you have lots of clinical experience in other specialties we can always check to see if the unit (and the hospital or health system) will make an exception.

Will CMS cover costs for education classes before I start (i.e. PALS and ACLS)?

If CMS secures you an assignment and you need a certification before you start, we will reimburse half the cost on your first check. Alternative arrangements can be made when necessary to ensure you obtain the necessary credentials for your assignment. 

How much orientation will I receive? Is it paid?

Every hospital is different, but you typically have 40+ hours of orientation (general hospital, EMR documentation, and unit specific). All contract orientation is paid at our standard rates, not a discounted amount. Per diem orientation is much shorter, usually a day or two, and is also paid (though the rate can vary by location).

What happens when we get close to my assignment end date?

About 6 weeks out from your end date we ask both you and the hospital if you would like to extend the current assignment. If all parties are on board, we sign and finalize the details much like your initial contract. If not, this gives all parties plenty of time to plan for the future to ensure no employment or coverage gaps.

What do I need to be submitted to an assignment?

Some facilities will consider a candidate just based on a current resume. Different facilities have different criteria however, and are more or less strict in what they require before they will review a candidate. The typical requirements are a current resume, recent references, and a skills checklist. Review our Employment Requirements page to learn more about what you need to get started. 

How soon can I start an assignment?

Anywhere from the following day to 4-6 weeks from the date of interview. Variables that affect start date are your availability, credentialing process, and education department availability. Most facilities request candidates that can start “ASAP”, and based on those variables, it is usually 2-3 weeks. We have credentialed candidates and had them starting the next day, and other candidates have planned for assignments to start well in the future.

How soon can you secure an assignment for me?

That varies greatly based on the candidate and the unit manager’s availability. We can coordinate an interview as soon as you send us the documents we required, and sometimes you will receive an interview and offer within an hour. Typical turnaround from when you provide us what we need to when you speak with a considering manager is approximately 2-3 business days, but again can be much sooner than that.

How does the transition work if I am currently staff somewhere? Do I have to leave my current position before you can secure an assignment for me?

No, you never have to leave a current employer hoping to secure something. You can interview to open positions while working staff, secure your contract, and then give your notice to your current position once we know your start date.  Start dates are typically two-four weeks from the date of interview offer and acceptance, due to education department schedules and current full time employment ending.  Hiring managers often have more confidence when interviewing currently employed candidates as well, and it often leads to successful placements. 

When can I sign up for benefits?

We offer medical, dental, vision, & supplemental benefits as early as 31 days after hire, and 401K benefits after one year of employment, to eligible employees. Contact your recruitment manager to learn more.

Am I eligible for a per diem travel expense reimbursement? How are they calculated?

You are eligible for a per diem travel expense reimbursement if your temporary assignment through CMS requires you to be away from your “tax home” – your tax home is defined as the entire city or general area where your main work is located.  This would also typically be the area of your permanent residency.  Based on government guidelines, we calculate your reimbursement by adding the applicable meals and incidentals rate to the applicable lodging rate, and determine a daily per diem rate.  Here is the government website that outlines these rates, first by state, then by county:  www.gsa.gov

Your hourly compensation varies by facility and unit, but you will know in advance prior to CMS presenting you as a candidate for any assignment. We can provide you with a sample pay stub in advance so that you can clearly see how your per diem travel expense reimbursement and your hourly compensation will appear on your typical weekly pay stub.

Learn more by reading our Travel Contracts & FAQ page.

What are the pay rates? Do you offer overtime? Are there any incentives to being on contract?

Pay packages vary by assignment, and you will always know prior to pursuing an assignment what the package will be. We can process your pay to include a per diem if you’re an eligible traveler (Travel Compensation FAQ), and will very clearly break down your compensation structure. You’ll always know what to expect in your check each week, and we’re incredibly accurate when it comes to payroll processing.

RNs can work up to 48 hours each week so that they can always have overtime hours available. For our travelers, we pay OT at 1.5 x the blended local rate, not your travel rate, so you get full advantage of our policy.

All contract orientation is paid at the full rate, and all parking is reimbursed 100%. We offer quick credentialing and completion bonuses regularly.


How are Per Diem assignments scheduled?

Per diem shifts are scheduled as you see fit, based on your availability and the needs of the facilities where you want to work. There are no minimum hour requirements that you have to pick up, and facilities can cancel you if they need to. Some facilities (especially hospitals) required extension orientation in advance; others you can simply show up early if its your first day for a quick tour and orientation. Pay rates vary by assignment.

What is the Full-Time Contracts & Travel Assignment Process

Contract or Travel assignments are typically 2-3 months, full time, and can be extended time after time. Each assignment has its own pay package based on the terms of the assignment. You are typically required to work weekends and holidays in rotation with staff and can request time off in advance. There is a more formal interview process for any contract or travel assignment, where we present your information to the facility and they interview if interested. The profile consists of:

  • Resume
  • Supervisory References
  • Skills Checklist
  • Potential Start Date
  • Any Dates to request off over the duration of the assignment

Once a phone or in person interview is completed, a formal offer will be presented. If accepted, a start date is worked out in order to give all parties time to review and approve the clinician’s credentials. Once the file is cleared, your 1st day reporting instructions and orientation schedule will be relayed, and you are all set to start. About half way through CMS will see if all parties want to extend and will work out a contract extension or start to line up your next assignment.