Aya Healthcare is the largest healthcare staffing provider in the United States, according to the website. It has an extensive number of clinicians on its platform and a wide range of available jobs. Unlike other travel nursing agencies, it uses a technology-driven strategy to match clinicians with assignments.
What Is Aya Healthcare?
Aya Healthcare was founded in 2001 by Alan Braynin who also serves as the current CEO of the company. Braynin started Aya because he wanted to optimize technology that automates healthcare staffing and workforce planning solutions. That said, there is no official mission statement listed on the website.
The agency serves all 50 states and is designed to help nurses take control of their careers by offering them a simple and effective way to find a staff job, local contracts and/or per diem shifts near home or travel the country.
Compared to other travel nursing agencies, it is one of the few that offers sick pay, nursing scholarships, and a clinical ladder program. It has been recognized by Fortune as the best place to work for women in 2021 and millennials in 2022. Staffing Industry Analysts also ranked Aya as the best staffing firm to work for. Here’s what two medical practitioners we spoke to told us when we asked why they chose to sign-up with Aya:
“A girl I worked with at my first nursing job had previously traveled with Aya,” says Crystal Erickson, an ICU nurse who has been an Aya traveler since April 2019. “I was asking a lot of travel nurse-related questions and she recommended her recruiter to me. I had read reviews on Aya and it seemed like a great company to start my travel journey with.”
“I decided to sign up for Aya Healthcare the second I received my first phone call from my now recruiter, Kara Anderson. One of my previous co-workers referred me to her, and she knew my love for traveling the country as well as my passion for nursing,” says Rick Ironside, an emergency room travel nurse.
The website is intuitive, straightforward, and reflects the technology-driven focus of the company. The first thing I noticed on the landing page were the words “Your travel nursing and allied career STARTS HERE.” Then, it provides a search bar for jobs that you can filter by specialty, profession, and location (state and city). The overall look and feel of the website seem to cater to someone who loves to travel.
Aya is focused on continuously improving its website and has made several updates to meet users’ needs since it first began.
“When I started at Aya Healthcare in 2016, the website wasn’t as user-friendly as it is today,” explains Ironside. “I think the regular revamping of the website has definitely made it a lot easier to maneuver through the available states offering contracts as well as the ability to update my work profile within the website.”
It is clear the company is looking to give clinicians access to opportunities that can help feed their wanderlust and boost their professional resumes.
When navigating the website, I ran into no errors or issues with loading. I could easily find information on travel, housing, pay and benefits, nursing scholarships, company information, employer info, and how to find jobs.
At the bottom of the website, you can find links to Aya’s social medial platforms which include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter, and TikTok. Aya posts almost daily on its Facebook and Instagram pages. Many of the posts are of Aya nurses at their work or traveling during their contract. Its social media presence feels personable and enticing to a prospective nurse who wants to travel. It has strong followings across the board, and its accounts are active, often engaging with comments.
Sign-Up/Onboard/Job Search Process
“The Aya website is easy to navigate and well put together,” says Erickson “It groups things together nicely. For example, [for] my job search, my jobs I have marked that I’m interested in were in one spot. All of my documents and tasks for onboarding were in one place as well. Those are just a few examples. I also like that they have a ‘my team’ section with all of the current contacts for my current assignment in one spot.”
The sign-up process is relatively easy. Before you can access any details about a job, however, you have to create an online account by entering your name, contact information, profession, specialty, the type of employment you’re looking for, when you’d like to start, and whether you were recommended by someone.
After you’ve registered, you’re automatically assigned a recruiter who will assist you with any questions or concerns. They’ll reach out to you to schedule a time to talk in order to get to know your goals and help find an assignment that fits your needs. You can text, call, or email them. Note that you will not be forced to take on an assignment or make any final decisions.
Both users who we interviewed praised their experiences working with their recruiter.
“I cannot sing enough praises about my recruiter,” says Erickson. “She made my experience so smooth and put me at ease. She was able to get me to a facility that she knew was traveler- friendly and she had previously had several travelers at the same [place]. She checked in with me after my first week to see how I was doing. It ended up being a great first assignment. The people were very helpful and friendly. I was excited at that point to spread my wings further and see what other opportunities came my way.”
“Kara Anderson, my recruiter, is hands down the most respectful, helpful, honest, and caring recruiter I could have ever imagined being assigned,” says Ironside. “She has been such a pleasure to work with over the years, and I am excited to continue this journey with her as my recruiter.”
It’s easy to change recruiters if you don’t mesh with the initial person you work with. Simply start a live chat and request a new one.
When you log in, you can browse jobs and filter by specialty, profession, and location. You can also access a map view, see pay packages, review facility information, save job filters, and get updates on when those types of opportunities come up.
If you see a job you’d like, click “I’m Interested” which will let your assigned recruiter know and they will get in touch with you. If they have other opportunities that meet your needs, a member of the recruitment team will follow up with you from a California area code.
States/Countries You Can Travel to
Aya Healthcare serves all 50 states and you can pick where you want to travel. Compared to other agencies that were reviewed, it is the only one that allows international travel to Canada. Ricky Ironside, for example, has worked in Maine, Tennessee, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, South Dakota, and Arizona.
The time it takes to be referred to a job depends on when you are ready to travel. Aya recommends that you complete an application as soon as you know when you’d like to travel so you can take advantage of the opportunities. If you know where you’d like to travel to, you can be on your way in as little as a few weeks, according to the site’s FAQs.
What Benefits Does the Agency Offer Prospective Employees?
Aya Healthcare provides a relatively comprehensive benefits package including health, dental and vision coverage, life insurance, sick pay, 401(k) with company match, and employee assistance programs.
An RN, for example, can expect to be paid $1,300-$7,000 per week, which is above average compared to other travel nursing agencies. In addition, it provides bonuses and pays for overtime and per diems. Payment occurs on a weekly basis.
Aya also pays for housing during a contract. Housing comes in two forms: The company can either provide you with a furnished home or give you a housing stipend to find your own home. You can switch between the two options between contracts.
Thanks to the agency’s large size, it offers a wide range of nursing jobs across different specialties including acute care, ambulatory, antepartum, behavioral health, cardiac, cath lab, COVID testing, Cardiovascular Control Center (CVCC), Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU), Cardiovascular Operating Room (CVOR), critical care, dialysis, ER, clinic, hospice, ICU, long-term care, medical surgery, mother/baby, NICU, OB/GYN, OR, oncology, Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), Pediatrics, Pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), step-down, trauma, and telemetry.
Accessibility of Service
Aya Healthcare provides travel nurses with a 24-hour emergency contact number so that they can get help at any time of the day or night, including holidays. Each Aya nurse is assigned a recruiter, credentialing specialist, payroll representative, and travel experience specialist for the duration of their assignment.
The website does not specify whether recruiters and/or customer service reps speak languages besides English. There are also no language filters built into the job searches. However, after chatting with a live representative, they said that Spanish-speaking recruiters are available. They were not able to tell us which languages their recruiters spoke unless we signed up, though.
There are several features that Aya Healthcare has that stand out compared to other nursing travel agencies. These include a nursing scholarship, Aya Scholars Program (clinical ladder program), referral bonuses, an active blog, text alerts for new assignments, and free continuing education units.
Every year, Aya Healthcare awards ten $1,000 scholarships to those starting or currently still completing their accredited nursing program. According to an Aya spokesperson, their Aya Scholars Program is one of a kind as it is the only clinical ladder program that exists in the travel nursing industry. It helps nurses with professional development so they can continue to grow their careers. Aya nurses get access to a web-based system that offers multiple courses for them to complete their continuing education units free of cost.
The website’s blog is frequently updated and covers various topics such as community highlights, clinician stories, recognition pieces, informative articles, and company media buzz. It’s unclear who writes the blog posts as no author names are provided. As of August 24, 2022, there were six blog posts for the month of August. The most recent post was an interview with a nurse who praised her recruiter, the flexibility, and the work-life balance that Aya offers.
Is This a Good Travel Nursing Agency To Work With?
As the largest healthcare staffing firm, Aya Healthcare has the advantage of a wide network of clinicians and a robust number of relationships with hospitals across the United States. Because of the high volume of matches it completes, most of its processes have been perfected.
Who Is It For?
Aya Healthcare is useful for seasoned nurses who value flexibility, work-life balance, and a desire to travel. It requires travel nurses to have at least a year of experience and must be willing to work at least 36 hours per week.
In addition to travel assignments, Aya offers several options for nurses who want to grow their careers or amplify their income, such as local contracts, per diem shifts, locums, and staff jobs.
Aya was started as a way to tap into technology to improve contract labor services among healthcare facilities and its easy-to-use platform seems to meet that initial goal. Compared to other travel nursing agencies, it has the advantage of being data-focused as it uses a digital algorithm to optimize matching nurses with assignments.
There is an FAQ section for each type of medical career path including travel nursing, travel other specialties, local contracts, per diem shifts, staff jobs, and locums. It also has a page for reviews and testimonials. There are direct links to Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews, Indeed reviews, and Glassdoor.
On the website, there is a chatbox called AyaBot where you can type questions. Once you enter your inquiries, they connect you with an actual human for answers. There is also a toll-free number to call.
Lots of Available Jobs
With over 30,000 openings and 18,000 unique opportunities (as of August 2022), Aya leads the way with an extensive database of healthcare jobs nationwide.
Most of the jobs available include specialties in ER, OR, ICU, medical surgery, telemetry nursing (monitoring cardiac patients), and labor and delivery. However, Aya Healthcare works with multiple hospitals across the country to cater to an even wider variety of specialties. It does not specify whether you can get hired at the same place you’re doing your rotation, though.
Diversity and Cultural Competence
One major downside of Aya Healthcare is its lack of emphasis on supporting people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. There is no mention of a social justice mission or goals, for example. As a result, potential recruits of color or people who don’t speak English fluently may not be attracted to Aya. There also does not appear to be a focus on supporting those with disabilities, deafness, or mobility issues.
That said, the photos of their travelers on their website are of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Overall, Aya Healthcare is a reputable company that focuses on ensuring nurses have everything they need to start a career in travel nursing. Aya claims to be the largest healthcare staffing platform in the United States and one of the few that also offers assignments in Canada. It is technology-driven and caters to those who want a relatively seamless process of being matched with the right job.
Aya’s Scholars Program is also one of a kind and it is the “only clinical ladder program for travel nurses in the industry,” according to the company. It can help prospective recruits who want to travel and continue to grow their careers simultaneously.
One of the areas Aya could improve upon is its diversity and cultural competence. It is not evident whether the company has a social justice mission or goals that support people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. It would also be helpful if they stated on their website whether recruiters and/or customer service reps speak other languages besides English.
Despite that, our sources still recommend Aya to others wholeheartedly.
“I would absolutely recommend Aya Healthcare to anyone looking for the same adventure,” says Ironside.“I have referred several nursing peers over the years.”
“I have had several nurses referred to my recruiter,” says Erickson. “My experience has been so phenomenal, even during the more trying times with COVID, that for people looking to just start out, it is a fantastic company to work for. The benefits, stipends, and 401k are all great selling points for me as well.”
Our methodology for evaluating travel nursing agencies is data-driven and a variety of factors were considered in this review: the website’s usability, onboarding process, benefits, compensation, diversity and cultural competence, accessibility of the service, unique features, scheduling convenience, and more.
A thorough analysis and use of the resources on the website, its social platforms, online search of the agency, and interviews with practitioners who have used the company were completed as part of the evaluation.
We use publicly available data to assess ratings and reviewed the awards and recognition that the company claimed it received. We also contacted customer service representatives to ask about the application process and the types of support available to travelers. Lastly, we interviewed nurses who have worked with the company to get their first-hand experience.