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.

How do contract & travel assignments work?

Contract & Travel assignments are typically 3 months, full time, and can be extended in 3-month increments. Each assignment has its own pay package based on the terms of the assignment. You can request time off in advance of your assignment starting. There is a formal interview process for any contract or travel assignment, where we present your information to the facility and they interview you if interested (we present your resume, references, and a skills checklist).

 

Once a phone or in person interview is completed, a formal offer will be presented. If you accept, we begin your HR file and finalize your start date (based on when orientation is available, when you are available to start, and when your HR file will be finished). Once your HR file is approved by the facility, your 1st day reporting instructions and orientation schedule will be given to you, and you are all set to start. We check in with you regularly to ensure you’re having a successful assignment, and about half way through, we can start to secure an extension for you if you want to stay. If not, we will start to line up your next assignment, with plenty of time to do so making sure you don’t have any down-time in between assignments. Of course, if you do want to take some time off, doing so in between assignments is always an option.

How do per diem assignments work?

We have a variety of per diem assignments available and will review these with you prior to you joining the team. As long as we have available needs that you are interested and eligible in helping with, we will welcome you to join our team and begin the HR file process. Once you are cleared by our HR team and at least one facility where you want to work, you’ll be added to our active per diem roster and can begin to schedule shifts. You do have to be cleared at each facility where you want to work, and we will continue to work on getting you cleared as many places as you want so you have plenty of options. You have total flexibility in where you work, though some facilities will require a minimum commitment for how often you pick up time there in order to clear and orient you. Orientation and pay vary by facility, and we will review all of that information in advance with you.

An important note about per diem assignments is that facilities can cancel your assignments. Its important to be cleared at several facilities so that we can re-book you if you are canceled.

 

How does the transition work from staff to agency?

If you are considering leaving your staff job to come on board, we are delighted to answer any and all questions that you will have.  We recognize that this is a big decision, and you’ll need a lot of information to know which options we have are best for you.  You never have to leave your staff job before we secure you an assignment, and its often a good idea to stay in a low-commitment PRN capacity so that you can keep your foot in the door.  We recognize that you’ve likely established strong relationships and familiarity at your staff home, and encourage you to keep that connection through a PRN option that you can work around your schedule with Chesapeake.  

 

Once we have answered all of your questions, arranged some interviews, and you’ve accepted your first assignment with us, you can then give notice at your staff job (either to leave totally, or reduce your status from full time to PRN).  If you need to provide more than two weeks notice, please make sure your Recruiting Manager knows so they can arrange your start date accordingly.  Assignments typically start 2 to 4 weeks from the date they are accepted, so its not an issue to wait to provide two weeks notice until you’ve accepted an assignment.  In those 2 to 4 weeks, you’ll complete your hiring process with our HR team, the facility credentialing department will review and clear your HR file, and the facility education department will arrange all of your orientation.

 

We’ll walk you through every step of the process and make sure you have an extraordinary experience leading up to your first day, and check in regularly once you’ve started your assignment to make sure everything is going well.  Always remember, your Recruiting Manager and our CNO are always available to support you through any challenges you may face and ensure you’re having a successful assignment.

How are pay packages determined?

Pay packages vary by assignment, and are based on your individual needs.  We will customize your package based on what is most important to you:  hourly pay, bonus, reimbursements, travel per diems, etc.  Rates can vary based on the severity of the need, and we regularly receive critical need rates.  You will be able to work with your recruiting manager to make sure we’re finding you the assignment that is right for you, including the pay package that you need.  Before we present you as a candidate for an interview, you’ll be able to review the pay package for that assignment and ask any questions you may have about the assignment details.

 

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. Our dedicated Benefits Specialist can answer any questions you have about the various plans that we offer.

How does travel pay work?

Travel pay eligibility, or a travel per diem, is determined by the federal government.  You are eligible for a travel per diem if your assignment through CMS requires you to be away from your home, i.e. you don’t sleep in your own bed each night.  Based on government guidelines, we calculate your reimbursement by adding the applicable meals and incidentals rate to the applicable lodging rate, and determine a total daily per diem amount.  Here is the government website that outlines these rates:  www.gsa.gov

Learn more by reading our Travel Contracts & FAQ page.

How do I confirm my hours and get paid each week?

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 Recruiting Manager 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.  

How soon can you secure an assignment for me?

You can view our employment requirements here, which outlines what documents we need to arrange an interview (resume, references, and a skills checklist).  As soon as we have these items, we can arrange interviews for you with as many facilities as you wish.  Interviews are based largely on clinical managers’ availability, and we partner with our facilities to make sure we get you feedback and secure your interview as quickly as possible.  Once you interview, a formal offer will typically follow within a few hours if the facility wants to move forward.

What documents do you need from me to arrange an interview with a facility?

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?

Most assignments begin 2-4 weeks from the date you accept, based on your hiring & credentialing being completed, as well as facility education department’s availability to host your orientation.  For some assignments, especially those that are not in hospitals, orientation can be more flexible, and you can start as soon as you’ve completed the hiring and credentialing process.  We offer quick credentialing bonuses if you get us all of your HR paperwork quickly, and you can learn more about our employment requirements here.  

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

We check in with you regularly during your assignments to make sure everything is going well, and to discuss if you want to stay at the facility beyond your current assignment, or if you’d prefer to try another facility.  About 6 weeks out from your end date, if you want to stay, we will work with the facility to confirm an extension to the current assignment.  If you don’t want to stay, or if the facility can’t offer an extension (typically because of budget, or a staff member returning), we’ll have over a month to arrange your next assignment, and can start reviewing options with you immediately.  

How many years of experience are required?

How much orientation will I receive and is it paid?

Every assignment is different, but you typically have 40+ hours of orientation for contract assignments (general hospital, EMR documentation, and unit specific).  All contract orientation is paid at the same rate as your clinical shifts.

Per diem orientation varies by facility, including duration and pay rate.

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.

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.

Can I learn a new specialty?

Advancing your clinical skills is definitely an option, typically within your specialty, and occasionally in a new specialty. If there is similarity between the units it is more likely, for example an ICU nurse cross-training to the PACU. If you have done a fantastic job in your current unit, and they no longer need you but another unit does, the other unit may very well consider training you. Managers love to get feedback from other managers in the same facility, and doing an exceptional job may open doors that would otherwise not be available to you. 

Will CMS reimburse for certifications, CEUs, etc?

If you would like to have certification or education training reimbursed, we are happy to include this in your pay package.  Just let your Recruiting Manager know in advance if you will need any items coming up, and we can make sure they are included in your package.  

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

The standard CMS employment agreement requests that you 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.