Axis Unfiltered – Behind the Curtain Access for Today’s Travel Nurse

Welcome to Axis Unfiltered!

It’s hard to be a travel nurse in today’s market. There… I said it. If you’re here you’re probably thinking it, too. The growing adoption of MSPs, social recruiting sites, a million and one agencies, tax free reimbursements, gross vs. net pay, and the list goes on. I have a headache just thinking about it all. The industry has changed so much, even in the past three years, that it can be difficult to navigate the waters from contract to contract for seasoned travelers, and downright frightening for someone looking to enter our crazy world. But don’t fret, we’re here to help.

Insert Axis Unfiltered. Each month, join me as we interview healthcare leaders, fellow travel nurses and travel nursing insiders who are making a difference in our industry. Our goal here is to provide access to information, discuss trends and hot button issues in the market, while providing some levity to what can often be a stressful environment. Whether you’re a first time traveler, or you’re on your 30th assignment, this is the podcast for you.


Allow me to first introduce myself. My name is Sam Lay and I am a Senior Recruiter here with Axis Medical Staffing. I’ve been in the travel nurse industry for nearly eight years and could not imagine doing anything else at this point. I’ve worked with hundreds of amazing travelers all over the nation and have experienced almost all one can in this industry.

So you may be asking, who’s Sam Lay? Let’s get to know me a bit better.

I got my start as a recruiter 100% by chance. Upon graduating from college in Tampa and with no real job prospects, I moved back home with my parents in Fort Lauderdale. I’m sure they were ecstatic to get to spend a few more years with the college version of myself. After a few months of holding the couch down, I decided it was time to officially enter the workforce. So I began my new career as a Bail Bondsman in South Florida (seriously).

Sam Bounty Hunter

Sam… the Bounty Hunter?

I learned a lot at this job. But the main thing that I learned was that I did not really want to be a Bail Bondsman in South Florida. A friend of mine said that he could likely get me a position at the Home Inspection company that he worked for. The opportunity to work a cozy desk job and not seemingly risk my life on a daily basis was very appealing at the time, so I took it! The pay wasn’t great, but I was safe and it made my mom sleep better at night.

You may also like: Axis Medical Staffing named One of Top Travel Nursing Companies of 2019 by Travel Nursing Central

One day, I was working out at the gym, donning one of my University of South Florida t-shirts (Go Bulls!), when a dude my age approached me and struck up a conversation. I may not have been blessed with all of the tools in the world, but one thing that I do have is the “gift of gab.” I like to think that I can talk to pretty much anyone about pretty much anything. So we started talking. Our conversation ultimately turned to “What do you do for work?” I begrudgingly told him all about my fascinating position as a home inspection auditor.

He then explained what he did. He talked about how he placed doctors on something called locums assignments. He told me it was the best job he could ever ask for. He went on and on about how cool their office was, how fun his job was, and how he looked forward to going in every day. I didn’t have a clue what locums were. I didn’t even know that this world of traveling healthcare professionals even existed. But I was intrigued. And he told me that I should apply.


The interview process was intense. There were 5 or 6 other people interviewing that day. They put us all in separate rooms and I met with 7 different managers, one at a time, over the course of about 2 hours. At the end, a woman came in and told me they would be in touch once they made their decision. I was admittedly disappointed. I felt like I charmed the socks off of everyone and looked particularly sharp as I bought my first suit at the Men’s Wearhouse the day prior. Sadly, I went home with no job offer. And assumed that would be the last time I heard from anyone there. A couple days later, I got the call that would kickstart my career. I landed my first real job. I was sent off to a 2-week training course a few days later and then unleashed into the recruiting world.

It was like nothing I could imagine. I had some successes and a whole lot of failures. But I took it all in and learned everything I could. A few years later, I left for the opportunity to recruit nurses. It was so much different than recruiting doctors, but I felt like I was equipped with all of the tools I needed to be successful. I found nurses to be so much more personable (sorry to all of you doctors out there). They were more open to my ideas and insights. More receptive to coaching and advice. It was a perfect match for me. Over the years, I’ve been through a company closing its doors and two separate acquisitions by larger companies. I’ve seen just about every wrench or curveball you could throw my way. And I’ve learned from all of it!

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So back to Axis Unfiltered. We are starting this new series with the hope that I can pass some of my knowledge and experience off to others. For new travelers, we will give you a great starting point as far as what you should expect from your recruiter/agency and what potential perils and pitfalls to look out for. And for you seasoned travelers, we hope you find our content and guests to be engaging and informative.

So sit back and enjoy. It will be a fun ride!

Want to join the Axis team and begin living that Rock Star lifestyle? Then let’s chat!

Contact Sam via email or fill out the quick form below.

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