To Extend or Not to Extend: The Travel Nurse Dilemma

question.mark .nurse  300x200 - To Extend or Not to Extend: The Travel Nurse Dilemma

Should you stay or should you go? It all depends on what you’re looking for in a travel nurse contract extension.

By Megen Robbins, Cirrus Medical Staffing

By definition, travel nurses have the opportunity to move from place to place, and hospital to hospital all over the U.S. with every new assignment. Part of the fun is finding the next position offering the pay package you need, the location you want, and the facility that will help you grow professionally.

Most of the informative articles and tips circulating about travel nursing relate to helping you find a new assignment, and yet information about extending your current assignment seems almost absent from the narrative. This article will break down the pros and cons of extensions, and how to talk to your recruiter and facility about this option.

What is an extension?

An extension is when a healthcare traveler chooses to extend their current contracted assignment for an agreed-upon number of weeks. The length of the extension varies depending on what the hospital needs and what you’re willing to do.

Why extensions can be good

It’s easy. For everyone involved, extensions require less work to arrange. All of your paperwork is done, so you won’t have onboarding or orientation at the facility. You have housing set up and you already know your way around the city. Licensing and testing are already complete. Just sign on the dotted line to extend and you’re up and running!

It means you get more time to enjoy your current location. Maybe it’s the new people you’ve met that you’re not ready to leave behind quite yet or the hiking trails you haven’t had time to explore, or maybe you just need more time to think about where you’d like to go next.

You can still negotiate. Usually, recruiters provide the best deal possible on your first contract at a facility, but sometimes you can redistribute expenses into your pay package such as travel stipends, expenses for drug/TB testing and physical, criminal background check (if ordered by facility), or compliance and credentialing costs. However, if you’ve never traveled with a company before, you may have already received things like a sign-on bonus and other one-time-only perks in your first assignment’s pay package, so keep that in mind.

It’s flexible. On new assignments, the number of weeks you’ll be there is set in stone on your contract, and most facilities aren’t interested in shortening the length to appease a traveler. If you’re offered an extension, however, the facility knows you’re acclimated to your unit. Having you stay on, even if only for half the length of your first assignment, is more efficient than orienting a new traveler in your place. Unconventional contract lengths are typical for extensions, so you have more control over how long you stay.

Why extensions can be bad

It’s not in your best interests. Feeling pushed into an extension is the most basic reason why extensions can be bad for you as the traveler. Make sure you communicate to your recruiter how you feel about every aspect of the assignment throughout your contract. If there is something that can be changed to make your experience better, your recruiter can help you consider your options by pinpointing exactly what’s making you unhappy. Otherwise, your recruiter may not know what needs to change and therefore cannot help you in a meaningful way. If your recruiter knows why you’re unhappy and they aren’t actively submitting you elsewhere per your request, it might be time to find a new recruiter.

You’re unhappy at the facility itself. If you’re unhappy at the facility, and other factors don’t make staying worth it (like money), then extending may only be an option for you if no new contracts work out. Again, communicate with your recruiter and make sure they are actively submitting you to new positions so you have a new assignment lined up. One of the beauties of being a travel nurse is that you have the option to move on after a relatively short time, no questions asked.

How extensions come about

You’re approached about it by your recruiter and/or facility. Hospitals typically start to consider extensions up to four weeks prior to the end of your current contract. Sometimes you’ll get more notice; depending on the time of year or census patterns of the facility, hospitals may release their needs well in advance. You’ll be approached by your recruiter to weigh your options when they’re made aware of an opportunity to extend.

You bring the idea to your recruiter. Whenever the thought to extend occurs to you, it’s never too early to let your recruiter know. They can tell the facility you are interested in and start the process of arranging a contract that maximizes your income. Also, keep an open line of communication with your nurse manager so they know you’re interested in staying and they can work on getting any necessary approvals for the contract extension in advance.  Also, be prepared to discuss time off requests with the nurse manager and your recruiter.  You want to have those ready to go and approved up front to get the contract locked down quickly. Your recruiter can help you navigate an extension even before a facility’s needs are released. Just like you would for a new assignment, the earlier you start hunting – even if you’re looking to stay put – the better your odds of a successful placement.

The bottom line on extensions

Contract extensions should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis – every assignment is different, and your reasons for staying may change depending on your circumstance. Extensions are a great way to get more of what’s important to you at the time; whether it’s more of the people, more money, more time to explore, or simply more time to find your next destination without a lapse between assignments.

Whatever your reasons to extend, they’re your reasons. Communicate openly with your recruiter and maybe your dilemma, to extend or not to extend, will cease to be a dilemma at all.

 

About the Author: Megen Robbins is the Marketing Supervisor at Cirrus Medical Staffing, a full-service healthcare staffing agency and travel nurse company. In her spare time, she’s usually hanging out with her two children under age 4, while simultaneously daydreaming about alone time. Find more travel nursing job advice, tips, and news on the Cirrus blog!

Share

Preparing for Hurricane Florence: What Travel Nurses Should Know

GettyImages 1032223648 300x184 - Preparing for Hurricane Florence: What Travel Nurses Should Know

A look at Hurricane Florence from space. The Category 2 storm is expected to hit the East Coast this weekend.

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall near the Carolina coast later today and into the weekend. Forecasters are already calling it “the storm of a lifetime.” Are you in the path of the storm? If you are, don’t panic. Here’s what travel nurses can do to stay safe before and after a natural disaster while on assignment.

Before the storm:

Learn your facility’s emergency response plan: Most facilities have an emergency response plan in place to protect their patients and staff during critical events or natural disasters. In some cases, hospitals will even evacuate their patients if they can. However, just like hospitals, no two emergency response plans are alike. So, make sure you understand your role within that plan. Your unit manager should be able to brief you on your specific role and answer any of your questions.

Stock up on supplies: Prepare for what you’ll need before and after a natural disaster. The American Red Cross recommends this handy checklist of emergency supplies. For example, you should have a 2-week supply of non-perishable food and water as well as a full tank of gas in your car. You may also want to purchase a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio so you can get the latest information from the National Weather Service.

Consider your housing situation: Make sure you have a Plan B for housing in the event that your current living situation becomes uninhabitable. Talk with your recruiter and your facility managers beforehand to determine your best course of action.

After the storm:

Contact your friends and family: Let your loved ones know you are safe. You can do so on Facebook or use the Safe and Well website. As a travel nurse, it’s also a great idea to put your recruiter on this list.

Avoid flooded areas and downed power lines: Flooding brings with it the risk of waterborne bacterial contamination and downed power lines pose a potential threat in the aftermath of a storm.

Don’t drink the tap water until authorities have given the all-clear. Tap water might not be safe to drink immediately following a natural disaster, so use your bottled water and/or boil the tap water before you use it.

Should you ever find yourself preparing for a natural disaster while on assignment, we hope these tips can help you stay safe. Thank you to all the travel nurses who have weathered similar storms or disasters in the name of patient care! You inspire all of us!

Share

Travel Nurse Holiday Contracts: Four Things to Know

GettyImages 525940911 200x300 - Travel Nurse Holiday Contracts: Four Things to Know

What’s on your wish list for a travel nurse holiday contract? Follow these tips to get the best experience!

It may only be July, but Christmas is fast approaching for those in the travel nurse industry. If you are a travel nurse, now is the perfect time to start thinking about where and how you want to spend the holidays. So, here’s what you need to know about travel nurse holiday contracts:

 

  1. Plan Ahead: Seasoned travel nurses know the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the ideal assignment. They also know that October, the month when most holiday contracts begin, tends to be a busy time in the industry. (Hello flu season!) However, while demand for travel nurses is high, so too is the supply. Many travel nurses like to get one more assignment into the books before the year ends. This means competition for these jobs could be intense. So, it’s wise to start your job hunt in August or September if you’re planning on working a holiday contract.

 

  1. Make Your Contract Work For You: There’s a common myth among travelers that a holiday contract means you’ll automatically be working all holidays. However, that’s not necessarily true. For example, some hospitals might not want you to work any holidays while on contract because they simply can’t afford you to do so. Then again, other hospitals may only be hiring travel nurses to help fill in during the busy holiday season. In any event, if you don’t want to work on or around certain days, simply communicate your preferences during the interview process and ensure these requests are written into your contract.

 

  1. Talk with Your Recruiter: Chances are your recruiter has had plenty of experience helping travel nurses like you find their ideal assignments. So, help them help you. Let your recruiter know which states you’d prefer to work in as well as which holidays, if any, you are willing to work. They might not always be able to get everything you’re looking for, but it is super helpful to have an industry insider’s guidance and negotiation skills when you need them.

 

  1. Competition for Post-Holiday Contracts Is High: Do you plan to skip the holiday assignment and start traveling again after the New Year? You’re certainly not alone; after all, that’s the beauty of the travel nursing career! If you do decide to take the holidays off, you might want to wait until mid-January to find your next assignment. Early January is yet another peak season for travel nurses, and competition for these jobs is high. For those already on assignment, it might be a good idea to extend your current contract, if that option is available to you. Your job hunt will certainly be less stressful!

 

Have you worked a holiday contract before? What other advice would you suggest? Leave your comments in the section below!

Share

7 Helpful Pieces of Advice for New Travel Nurses

A career in travel nursing offers several key differences from a traditional nursing position. For many nurses, it is a uniquely exciting career, offering experiences and new settings they would not experience otherwise.

hospital%20nurse%20with%20wheelchair%20patient 600x - 7 Helpful Pieces of Advice for New Travel NursesFor some nurses, travel nursing offers the right combination of excitement and job flexibility.

If you’re interested in a travel nursing career, read up on personal accounts by experienced travel nurses, and take the time to select the right travel nursing agency. Here are seven other helpful pieces of advice for new travel nurses.

1. Organize All Essential Documentation

The ability to plan ahead is essential to a successful travel nursing career. Make sure you have the following on hand for when you sign with a travel nursing agency:

  • Current nursing license and specialty certifications
  • Immunization records
  • List of references with contact information
  • Professional resume highlighting your skills and strengths

Having these important pieces of information ready makes it easier to prepare for phone interviews with potential employers, because you can focus more on questions you want to ask and on understanding policies and schedules.

2. Keep an Open Mind and Remain Flexible

In addition to excellent planning ability, you must also have a certain amount of flexibility. Ultimately, a travel nursing career can allow you to tailor your career to your desire to travel, or to your family’s needs, but especially at first, you must be prepared to be flexible and accept assignments with an open mind.

3. Learn How to Pack Strategically for Assignments

Don’t expect to pack perfectly the first time. Strive to pack light, yet know what your “essentials” are, whether that’s family photos, a personal journal, or a special throw or bed pillow. Travel nursing agencies will inform you about what is available in any housing they provide. Over time you will learn what really is necessary and what you can leave at home.

4. Understand Pay Rates and Other Benefits Before Accepting an Assignment

An outstanding travel nursing agency welcomes questions, so don’t be shy inquiring about benefits, base salary, canceled shift policies, shift differentials, and other pertinent information. Determine whether benefits like health insurance are offered, and if so, what percentage of the premiums you’ll be responsible for.

male%20nurse%20with%20little%20girl 600x - 7 Helpful Pieces of Advice for New Travel NursesThe right travel nursing agency is happy to answer your questions. 

5. Allow Yourself Plenty of Time to Prepare for Your First Shift

Generally, it’s better to show up more than one day before your start date. If you can allow a few days to settle in, rent a car (if necessary), learn your commute time, and stock up on food and household items, your first day on the job will be far less stressful. Knowing your neighborhood, including things like where the local supermarket is, can also minimize stress.

6. Realize that Getting Accustomed to Travel Nursing Takes Time

Travel nursing isn’t for every nurse, and those who are well-suited for this path may not realize it at first. Once you learn to pack well, save receipts, and take care of the details, you’ll be able to evaluate travel nursing as a career choice and determine if it is right for you. Many nurses choose travel nursing and can’t imagine doing it any other way.

7. Choose the Right Travel Nursing Agency

The importance of choosing an outstanding travel nursing agency cannot be overemphasized. Your agency should be large enough to offer you the opportunities you want, yet small enough to provide the attention you need, answer your questions, and generally have your back as you take on travel nursing assignments. The right travel nursing agency is ready to listen to you, answer your questions, and help you build a career that lets you shine and that provides the challenges and rewards you want.

Travel nursing offers many amazing opportunities. Not only can nurses pursue travel to places they may never have had the chance to go, travel nurses with families can schedule their assignments to mesh with school schedules, or a spouse’s schedule, offering flexibility and earning power. If you are interested in travel nursing, Travel Nursing Central invites you to fill out our sign-up form. It’s an important first step towards what could be an outstanding nursing career for you.

Share

5 Fantastic Summer Reads for the Travel Nurse

Looking for a few good beach reads for your summer travel assignment? We've got you covered!

Looking for a few good beach reads for your summer travel assignment? We’ve got you covered!

Whether you hanging out at the beach or waiting in an airport terminal for your next flight, a good book can make any travel nurse adventure more fun. So, in the name of summer road trips, we’ve compiled 5 fantastic summer reads for the travel nurse. Happy reading!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor black farmer, was dying from cancer. Before her death, some of her cells were removed during a biopsy and cultured without her permission. Henrietta’s cell line, known by scientists as HeLa cells, became the basis for several medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine. Today, however, Lacks’ family can’t afford health care. This 2010 bestseller tells an astonishing story where race, science, and ethics collide.

Anatomy of a Super Nurse: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming Nursey: This is a must-read for any recent nursing school grad! Acclaimed blogger and author Kati Kleber, BSN, RN, CCRN, shares her experiences and provides hilarious insights and practical tips on how to survive that crucial first year in the nursing field. Even seasoned nurse veterans will get a chuckle out of Kleber’s storytelling.

The Hospital at the End of the World: Thinking of taking your travel nursing skills overseas? Then you need to pick up The Hospital at the End of the World. This nonfiction narrative describes one nurse’s adventures while teaching for a summer in Nepal. It’s Eat, Pray, Love meets Seven Years in Tibet.

I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse: This is a collection of short stories about real-life nurses’ experience in the demanding world of healthcare. Several nurses in different stages of their career share their “firsts”, their struggles against burnout, and ultimately what keeps them in the profession. Warning: This book will make you laugh and probably ugly cry.

Outlander: If you’re looking for pure summer escapism, you won’t regret reading Outlander. In this Diana Gabaldona bestseller, WWII British army nurse Claire Randall accidentally travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. While trying to find a way back to her own time and husband, Claire is forced to marry Jamie, a young Highlander. Things get complicated when Claire finds herself falling in love with the Scottish warrior.

Wherever your travel nursing journey takes you this summer, we hope you enjoy these great reads!

P.S. What are you reading this summer? Let us know in the comments below!

Share

Top 5 Fitness Apps for the Travel Nurse

Fitness apps for the travel nurse

Jump-start your fitness goals for 2017 with these apps for the travel nurse!

January is all about New Years’ resolutions. If you’re like most of us, somewhere on your list of resolutions for 2017 is getting back into shape.  Heck, maybe you’re one of the lucky few who actually kept this resolution last year, and now you want to maintain your fitness level.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it can be hard to keep your workout schedule when you’re a travel nurse. To help you reach your fitness goals while you’re racking up those travel miles, TNC has the top 5 fitness apps for the travel nurse below:

MapMyRun: You’re new in town — again — and you have no idea where the best jogging routes are. With MapMyRun, you’ll never be at a loss. From hiking trails to city streets, this cool app can help you find where all the cool kids are running these days. When you find a route you love, you can save it or share it with an online community of more than 40 million members. Plus, MapMyRun will send you tips on how to improve your workout so you can reach your running aspirations.

7-Minute Workout Challenge: This popular high-intensity circuit workout app can really benefit the busy travel nurse. You can do the challenge anywhere. All you need is a wall, a chair, and hypothetically 7 minutes of your time. You can repeat the workout to maximize your results, so 7 minutes could turn into 21 minutes if you’re going for the gold.

The workout includes a series of 12 bodyweight training exercises like squats or push-ups. Each move should be performed for roughly 30 seconds with a 10 second rest in between. Get ready to sweat, because the “high-intensity” part of this routine is no joke.

Dailyburn: If you like the idea of a personal trainer in the comfort of your own home, then DailyBurn could be your new fitness obsession. Dailyburn is an online streaming video program that allows you to pick from a variety of exercise routines led by several fitness experts. Fans of Dailyburn like the diversity of workout options. However, unlike some others on this list, Dailyburn is subscription based.

Sworkit: This fitness app has been likened to Spotify, but instead of song playlists, you can create a playlist of workout routines. The app allows you to choose from a variety of fitness programs or build your own. Plus, you can tell the app how long you want to work out for, so you can time it to your favorite TV show or podcast.

MyFitnessPal: This free app tracks your food intake and workouts to help you make better lifestyle choices. It’s a digital diet and exercise diary meets calorie counter. The best part? The app has a database of more than 5 million different food items, so it’s easy to track your intake no matter what you eat.

These top 5 fitness apps for the travel nurse make keeping your New Years’ resolutions easier than ever before!

What are some of your favorite workout routines when you’re on the road? Tell us in the comments section below!

Share

5 Holiday Decorating Tips for the Travel Nurse

With the holidays almost here, it’s time to deck those halls! As travel nurses everywhere know, decorating in a temporary home can sometimes mean wishing for a Christmas miracle. Never fear! With these 5 holiday decorating tips for the travel nurse, you’ll be able to make your home feel merry and bright without the help of Santa’s elves.

  1. Christmas wreath

    You can make a big statement in a small space with these holiday decor ideas!

    Invest in temporary wall hooks: These little gems make holiday decorating a breeze, especially for the travel nurse on the go! Hang these hooks anywhere — they’re easy to install and they won’t mess up your walls come January 1st.  Plus, they are perfect for Christmas stockings or wreathes! Which brings us to our next point…

  1. Purchase an evergreen wreath: Don’t have the space for a tree? No problem! Use a real pine wreath for instant holiday style. They’ll make your apartment smell like a Christmas tree without the mess. What’s not to love about that??
  1. Add sparkle with twinkle lights: Create a winter wonderland in just minutes. White or colored lights hung from your ceiling or draped gracefully over doorways can add a touch of glamour to tiny spaces.
  1. Hang ornaments from bookshelves: Who needs a tree to decorate when you have a bookshelf? Dress up your ordinary furniture with ribbons and glittering glass balls for full effect. Those wall hooks we mentioned earlier might come in handy here. Extra tip: you can hide the hooks if you stick them on the top of your furniture.
  1. Add a holiday throw pillow: If DYI really isn’t your thing, you can simply spruce up for your living room couch with fun, holiday throw pillows. No fuss, no muss. We told you it was easy! Need a few ideas? Click here!

Thanks to these 5 holiday decorating tips for the travel nurse, you’ll be ready for the season in no time!

Any decorating tips that we missed? Let us know how you adorn your apartment for the holidays in the comments below!

Share

4 Simple Stretches for the Travel Nurse

Whether you're on a mountain top or in the middle of your shift, you can do these quick stretches anywhere!

Whether you’re on a mountain top or in the middle of your shift, you can do these quick stretches anywhere!

You spend most of your day caring for patients, and that can be a full body workout. After a long 12-hour shift, the last thing you probably want to do is go to the gym. And while we certainly don’t blame you, your personal fitness shouldn’t always take a back seat.  With just a few minutes each day, you can actually help prevent potential injuries and increase your endurance when you practice these 4 simple stretches for the travel nurse:

Cat and Camel Stretch: This easy to learn stretch can help relieve lower back pain and help strengthen your spinal cord. According to WebMD, a static Cat and Camel stretch can be done using the following steps:

  • Lace your fingers together and turn your palms to face outward in front of you.
  • Reach your arms as far as you can, curving your back and shoulders forward.
  • Hold for roughly 10 seconds.
  • Release your fingers, and grab your wrists or fingers behind your back.
  • Raise your arms as high as you can behind your back without releasing your hands so your chest opens and your shoulders roll back.

Lying Bed Stretch: According to nursing blog Scrubs.com, the lying bed stretch can help reduce back and neck pain. And the best part? As its name implies, you don’t have to leave your bed for this one!

  • Simply lie back on your bed.
  • Raise both arms over your head, so that your elbows face the ceiling and your hands dangle over the edge of the bed.
  • Hold for 15 seconds, then slowly bring your hands back to your side.
  • Repeat one to two times as needed.

Half Dog at the Wall: This modified yoga pose is also great for the busy travel nurse. All you need is a wall and a few seconds of free time. Doyouyoga.com suggests this stretch to help relieve stress and boost your energy level:

  • Stand facing a wall, about a leg’s length apart.
  • Place your hands on the wall roughly at shoulder height.
  • Press your hands against the wall, and bend your knees a bit and slowly walk your feet away from the wall.
  • Keeping your hips positioned over your feet, gradually walk out until your arms are straight and form a long line with your torso and belly.
  • Push your arms strongly towards the wall, while creating an upward lift from your knees to your hips.
  • Gradually straighten your knees.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Slowly come back up.

Supine Pelvic Tilt: This classic exercise routine works well for those of you who suffer from low back pain. So basically, all nurses everywhere, right? This stretch can take a bit more time, but it’s worth the effort! The American Council on Exercise recommends you follow these steps:

  • Lie back on a mat or the floor with your knees bent, your feet flat on the ground, and your arms at your sides in a “T” position.
  • As you exhale, use your abdominal muscles to press your low back into the floor. Be careful to not lift your hips. Hold this position for a short time.
  • Next, slowly inhale and slant your pelvis in the opposite direction. This should create an arch between your low back and the floor. Again, make sure to keep your hips and tailbone on the ground. Hold this position briefly, then return to your starting position.
  • Rest a few seconds between each set. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can do 2-3 sets at a time.

As a travel nurse, you’re constantly on the move, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with constant back pain and stress. These quick stretches can help you let go of stress, relieve your tired and sore muscles, and help prevent personal injuries on the job.

What other activities help you unwind after a long day?

Share

Top 6 Travel Nurse Myths Busted

You’ve been thinking about travel nursing as a career option for a while now, but you’ve been hesitant to take the plunge. Maybe, you don’t think you can hack it as a travel nurse because you’re naturally shy, or you’ve heard from your friends that travel nurses are given difficult patient loads. Well, Travel Nursing Central has busted the top 6 travel nurse myths wide open below. We bet you’ll be surprised by what you might learn.

Travel Nurse Myths

Don’t let rumors or myths scare you away from a rewarding travel nurse career.

  1. You Must Be Outgoing: While being an extrovert usually helps, it isn’t required in a travel nurse. In fact, most travel nurses believe that being a team player is the more important trait. You’ll make friends faster among the hospital staff if you can quickly learn the hospital’s routine, bring a positive attitude and hit the ground running with your awesome clinical skills. Outside of the hospital setting, there are plenty of perks to traveling alone. First of all, you get to schedule your adventures and enjoy them at your own pace. Going on a hike or indulging in your photography hobby are just some of the activities you can enjoy solo. However, if you’re still worried about how you might handle traveling, you can test the waters by sticking to a location fairly close to home. Then you can truly decide if the travel nurse lifestyle is for you.
  1. You Don’t Get to Choose Your Travel Assignments: Nothing could be further from the truth on this one. You absolutely have a choice when deciding where you want to travel. Your traveling company might not always have a job available in your dream location, but that doesn’t mean you have to go anywhere you don’t want to. Just let your recruiter know a few of your top location preferences and your recruiter will find jobs for you. Overall, remember to keep an open mind about where you decide to travel. You could be surprised to find that you enjoy the slower pace of a small town hospital compared to the rapid-fire pace at a sprawling facility in New York.
  1. You Can’t Take Your Pet with You: There are many companies that will accept your pets as a package deal and will gladly find pet-friendly housing for you. But, not all agencies are willing to let your furry friend come along for the ride. Moral of the story? Do your research before you sign a contract if you want to travel with your pet.
  1. You Aren’t Eligible for Benefits: Almost all travel staffing companies have a benefits package for their travelers, so this myth is a pretty easy one to debunk. However, benefit packages vary greatly with the traveling company. Here again, it pays to do your research. Find out which benefits are the most important to you and go with the company that offers them. You can start your research on TNC’s agency reviews page here.
  1. You Get the Worst Patient Assignments: There’s also the assumption out there that travel nurses get the worst patient assignments. Again, this isn’t usually the case. As a travel nurse, you are there to lighten the hospital’s patient load. Most staff members are happy to have you there, and your patient assignments won’t necessarily be more difficult than a permanent nurse’s load. However, if you know you don’t want to be a floater, put it in writing if possible. Your contract can sometimes be your best protection.
  1. You Will Make Tons More Money as a Travel Nurse: This myth is a bit of a gray area. Many times, travel nurse pay is typically better than a permanent position, but that might not always be the case. There are some assignments that are incredibly lucrative, but others can be comparable to seasoned nurses’ current pay. The key here is to remember that your pay as a travel nurse is usually based on a number of things, including whether or not you take company housing, enroll in company health insurance, and/or the location of your assignment. Again, this all depends on your travel company and how they handle pay. Be sure to ask your recruiter about this issue before you sign a contract, and remember the power of negotiation!
Share

Ask Travel Nursing Central: Contract Questions

Questions about travel nursing contracts

Reading your travel nursing contract can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers. It’s important to know what you’re signing up for when you agree to a travel assignment.

Your contract is arguably your most important tool to help you navigate the sometimes uncharted waters of your travel nursing career. It can also be the most confusing. Fortunately, Travel Nursing Central is here to help you map out your professional path. We posted some of your frequently asked questions about travel nursing contracts and our answers here. Please keep in mind that our website should not be substituted for legal counsel. Rather, we hope this information helps you become a better advocate for yourself. As always, we recommend that you speak with your recruiter before you sign or break your contract.

Question: “I am on my first assignment in Kentucky. I agreed to this job because the agency and the hospital both made it sound so much better than it actually is. I took a night shift job, which was a huge mistake. I’m not sleeping well, I’m sick 24/7, and I feel depressed and yuck. On top of that, my contract is extremely vague, and things don’t make any sense to me now. I missed a shift, and now they’re taking money away from me. I want out — I’m going through so much and frustrated. Help!”

Answer: “I’m so sorry your first traveling assignment hasn’t been a fun experience. Even though this trip wasn’t everything you’d hoped it would be, you still have options.

In your case, I recommend that you let your recruiter know how you’re feeling about this assignment so far. If your recruiter has your best interests at heart, she or he should be able to reassure you and offer advice on what to do next. Maybe this current assignment is almost done, and you can soon relocate to another hospital with better hours. After all, that’s the positive side of traveling nursing—most assignments are short.

If your assignment is truly unbearable, you can quit, but make sure you read your contract thoroughly so that you understand the consequences. Some contracts have monetary penalties for travelers who end an assignment early. Again, you can always ask your recruiter to go over your contract with you to explain anything that seems vague to you.

For future traveling assignments, I would also suggest thoroughly reviewing any new contract with your recruiter before you sign anything. It’s not always a joy to read all that legal jargon, but, if you do, you won’t ever again be surprised with any unexpected charges or fees. I hope you start feeling better, and enjoy future trips as a traveling nurse soon.”

Question: “I have been at my current travel assignment for almost a year. I have never done travel nursing before this. My travel agency and facility would both like me to renew, but I have heard from different people that you aren’t considered a contract nurse after a year at one facility. My travel agency says this isn’t a problem. What is your understanding of this? I would like to stay at this facility, but I don’t want any surprises if I decide to stay!”

Answer: “You can work at your current facility as long as you like. However, if you decide to stay, you will no longer be eligible to receive a housing stipend or a Per Diem allowance. If you work in the same location for a year, the IRS considers that location as your new permanent tax home. In the eyes of the IRS, you are no longer away from home, so you can’t receive the tax-free money. Whatever you decide, I hope this information helps you in your travel nursing career. Good luck!”

Question: “I am currently fulfilling a contract in California. I was told by my agency that the company I am working for is going to decrease my rate mid-contract. I found out that it was not affecting all travelers on my unit. When I called my agency upset about this rate change, they told me that I could either accept the rate change or my contract would be cancelled.  Can they do this?”

Answer: First of all, I’m sorry to hear that this assignment has been stressful for you. I would highly recommend asking your recruiter about your contract. I’m not a legal expert, but they should not be able to change the terms of your contract without consent on both sides and without proper notice. However, there could be provisions in your contract which would allow your agency to the cancel the assignment if you don’t agree. Without reading the specifics of your contract, I believe you have two choices in your current situation. You can accept the change and complete the assignment, or you decline the change and start looking for another position with another agency. Again, I would speak with your recruiter first to fully understand your options before you make any decisions in your current assignment. Thanks for writing and good luck!

For more FAQs regarding travel nursing contracts, please click here

Share