Recruitment Trade Secrets: What are a MSP, VMS and Master Supplier, and How Do They Affect Travelers?

Recruitment Trade Secrets: What are a MSP, VMS and Master Supplier, and how do they affect travelers?

If you’re a travel nurse, therapist, or any modality within the contingent workforce, then you’re likely working with one (or all three) of these entities to land your next assignment: a Managed Service Provider, a Vendor Management System or a Master Supplier.

Never heard these terms before? Well, information is power – the more knowledge you have about the system you’re working in, the better you can navigate it to make good career decisions. That’s why we’re providing you with a few trade secrets recruiters use to secure quality positions for their travelers, giving you the tools to ask questions and choose a recruiter wisely.


Before we start casually throwing around the contingency staffing jargon, let’s make the definitions clear:

* Managed Service Provider (MSP) – provides both systems and account management for hospitals’ contingent staffing using a holistic approach that includes invoicing, credentialing, accountability and fill rate.

** Vendor Management System (VMS) – a computer system that is provided for a hospitals’ contingent staffing. There is no account management or live support, and a hospital’s team trains themselves on how to use the software, which provides avenues of listing their personnel needs.

*** Master Supplier – an entity that subcontracts with MSPs and VMSs to fill hospitals’ contingent staffing needs, as well as obtains direct contracts with healthcare facilities (think: your friendly recruiters at Cirrus Medical Staffing!).

How do Master Suppliers work with MSPs and VMSs

As defined above, Master Suppliers subcontract with MSPs and VMSs to place travelers in positions all over the country. By working with these entities, thousands more job opportunities are made available to candidates.

As a Master Supplier ourselves at Cirrus, we only work with MSPs that we feel confident about. As long as travelers are putting their trust in us, we will only submit them with MSPs or direct contracts with organizations we trust. When working with a recruiter, take a moment to ask about the nature of the position – is it through an MSP or VMS? What is the reputation of this provider? Knowledge is power.

Having a diverse group of business, whether VMS, MSP or direct contract, is what can make a successful staffing firm. Transparency about the overall process to all parties involved is what can make for the best travel nurse company. That’s what we aim to do at Cirrus!

Advantages to travelers

Now that you know what everything means, you might be wondering about the direct advantages of working with Master Suppliers (staffing firms) who subcontract with MSPs and utilize VMSs:

  1. MSPs are the primary contact for hospital hiring managers

What does this mean for you? It means hospitals work through a proven entity to fill their staffing needs – MSPs want to succeed in bringing their client (the hospital) quality candidates, so it is in their best interest for you to get hired. This consistency allows the MSP to negotiate with their clients for stronger bill rates, and advocate for candidates working with recruiters (i.e., Master Suppliers).

For example: if a hospital is not having any luck hiring travel nurses, the MSP will get to the bottom of why this is the case, and help resolve it. It could be that bill rates are too low, or non-billable orientation hours are too many. Regardless, MSPs can work out a sweet deal to entice travelers to come to their clients’ facilities. Having a “middle man” provides a streamlined process between hospitals and recruitment firms.

  1. MSPs have inside knowledge of the market value for contingency positions

Most MSPs have clients nationwide, giving them inside knowledge on the going rate for travel positions nationwide. This can get nurses and therapists, in particular, a better bottom line. MSPs want to keep their fill rates high, so they will do what it takes to advocate the candidates’ needs to hospitals.

  1. Access to VMS and MSP jobs only comes with Joint Commission Certification

Did you know that if you work with a recruitment firm who isn’t Joint Commission Certified, you do not have access to thousands of jobs across the country? That’s because in order to submit candidates to jobs through an MSP or VMS, a staffing firm must be Joint Commission Certified. Because Cirrus Medical Staffing is Joint Commission Certified, it allows us to work with premier hospital systems that other staffing firms cannot subcontract with, or establish direct contract with.

  1. Real-time notification of new jobs

MSPs and VMSs automatically send notifications to staffing firms they work with when a new job is added. Meaning the minute a new job opens up, we’re the first the find out (and pass this information along to our travelers). Looking for a job on the OR floor in a Honolulu hospital? We’ll get you in front of the Nurse Manager with no lag time. Not only are we notified instantaneously, our website is also update multiple times per day to reflect new open jobs, or jobs that have been filled. You can count on the accuracy of the jobs posted to our website.

For access to Cirrus Medical Staffing’s accurate, real-time job board, click here! Or contact one of our recruiters directly to discuss your next travel assignment.