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Nurses often wonder how agencies build travel nurse per diems. Did you know there’s an exact method (and federal regulations) behind these rates?


Many travel nurses on assignment qualify for a per diem (literally Latin for “per day”) that can be used for meals, incidentals, and housing (if you have not elected a free housing option). Every year the General Services Administration (GSA) establishes per diem rates for contract employees (like travel nurses!) within the Continental United States (CONUS). Your recruitment team will help you determine if you qualify for per diems.

Rate Types   

CONUS per diems are applicable for both standard and non-standard CONUS locations. Non-standard areas are frequently traveled by the federal community, like Washington D.C. Standard CONUS locations are less frequently traveled by the federal community, like Charleston, SC. Some standard CONUS locations are not specifically listed on our website, but they would carry the same rates as all other standard GSA locations. At this time, the established CONUS per diem rate is $91 for lodging and $51 for meals and incidental expenses.

Beware of Per Diem Pitfalls 

Next Medical Staffing operates with the utmost care in order to comply with all federal regulations regarding pay and per diems. We believe in the importance of protecting our nurses. In the past, agencies provided extremely high per diems paired with rather low hourly rates, which resulted in legal issues, tax audits, and fines.

For example, RNs should not be paid $12 per hour and be paid more than the CONUS rates for the area in which their assignment is located. This strategy is sometimes used to win travelers over to an assignment but can have dire results in the end. But it’s super illegal! Beware if you come across such a deal!

However, we rest assured that Next is in strict compliance with all regulations and will never put your financial future in danger.