Travel nursing is a great opportunity to explore a new place and meet a new group of people, and sometimes the situation can feel so perfect you find yourself wishing it could last beyond your contract. If you feel this way, don’t make the mistake of thinking that because your travel nurse contract is due to end, you can’t extend it. In many cases, you can, provided you play your cards right. Here’s how.
Although you’ll be asking for an extension to suit your own needs, it can be a win-win for both you and your travel nurse agency. The benefits on your side are obvious: you get to stay in the place you’re currently happiest, and you don’t need to deal with the transition and travel associated with moving on to a new area, and you don’t need to acclimate yourself to a new work environment. But the benefits of you extending your contract also benefit your employer: they don’t have to rush to recruit, hire, and onboard your replacement right away, making their job easier and less stressful. They also have the benefit of being able to continue to count on somebody they already know is also a solid employee. (Otherwise, the question of extending your contract would be a moot point.)
Strike When the Time is Right
If you’re hoping to extend your contract, be sure to broach this subject well in advance of your currently designated end date. At least 4-6 weeks in advance is advisable, and even earlier may be ideal. It’s commonly assumed that assignments don’t become available until one to four weeks before their start date, but don’t let this keep you from taking action. Hospitals prefer to keep experienced people on staff rather than bringing in new hires. So provided there’s still a need for your position to be filled, there’s a high chance your extension request will be approved.
Beware of Unexpected Tax Hits
It’s generally not a good idea for travel nurses to extend their contracts with the same hospital for multiple years. This is because residing too long in a particular location can qualify it (for tax purposes) as your home. In other words, if you don’t pay duplicate lodging expenses at your tax home, then extensions can come with a heavy tax hit. For this reason, it’s important to maintain your permanent tax home if you’re accepting tax-free stipends. Always do your research to ensure a travel nurse contract extension won’t come with a hefty tax-related price tag.
Play it Smart
Before you ever approach your employer about extending your contract, you need to play it smart by revisiting your contract to ensure you’re well-versed in its terms. This will ensure you can continue to carry out the duties of your contract out in good faith. Understanding your contract inside and out is especially important since when you seek an extension, you’re also looking at a chance to renegotiate your compensation package. The better you understand your contract and your own performance reports, the more prepared you’ll be to make a compelling case for a raise. Although there’s no guarantee you’ll receive it, the process of negotiation itself can be a valuable experience.
Keep Your Options Open
If you have your heart set on staying in your current area but are concerned you may not receive your desired extension, don’t give up, and keep your options open. Research whether other agencies currently interfaced with your hospital or clinic may want to contract with you. If so, approach them about receiving a quote for the contract in question. You might even find that the agency is willing to offer you more money and better benefits than your current employer. Be sure, however, to check your contract for a non-compete clause. These clauses typically prevent you from working at the same hospital through another agency for a specified amount of time. On the other hand, they are not enforceable in many states.
When you find yourself unexpectedly in love with an area or work situation that you’d like to enjoy as long as possible, taking action to extend your contract makes perfect sense. And by putting these five tips into practice, you’re chances are that much better you’ll get to call your current location “home sweet home” for just a little longer! For more helpful tips for making your life as a traveling nurse easier, more enjoyable, and more rewarding, visit our website for more valuable tips!