Travel Nursing 101: What to Consider Before Signing a Travel Nurse Contract

Travel Nurse Contracts

You’re ready to start your travel nursing journey but need a few pointers before getting started. We’ve all been there—the best travel nurses were all beginners at one point. 

Obtaining your first travel nurse contract or starting a new one is an essential step to advancing your medical career. However, even if you’ve done it a million times, it’s always recommended to look over all the details and ensure the terms and conditions are satisfactory to you. Because the timeframe to accept or decline a travel nurse assignment is a little tight, it’s essential to know what to look for before signing a contract, negotiating with your travel nurse recruiter, or ultimately turning it down. Here are a few things you should always consider before signing.

Never Skim The Contract

You should never briefly review any documents regarding your travel nursing career, especially your travel nurse contract. Missing the little details could put you in a situation you didn’t want and doesn’t suit your lifestyle. The contract should be clear and easy to understand, with numerous specific details. If there are elements you don’t like or have questions about, your travel nurse recruiter should be able to answer them easily and make any required changes. 

Remember, saying no is okay if it doesn’t meet your standards. There are so many travel nurse assignments out there, so you’re guaranteed to find one you’ll love!

Unit Details

Having the full rundown of your day-to-day schedule is important, so you know what to expect going in on Day 1. Besides guaranteed work hours, shifts, and rotation schedules, travel nurses need a lot of details about the facility and their specific department. For example, are you required to float, and if so, which units could you be floating to? Are you required to work on holidays? Is there mandatory overtime?

The more you know about your expected responsibilities, the more prepared you’ll be to care for patients and work with other nurses cohesively. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether you think they’re big or small, to ensure everyone’s on the same page. If you also have vacation days or times you won’t be available for work, let them know as early as possible. If those off days are approved, ensure they are included in the travel nurse contract.

Other Items

Additional information influencing your decision about a travel nurse contract is the financial breakdown and penalties regarding your work hours. Contracts usually detail the weekly pay rate and where that money comes from. However, travelers should also look for overtime rates, holiday rates, and additional bonuses. Some travel nursing agencies offer bonuses or financial incentives for completing a 13-week contract or signing a contract extension with the same hospital. These financial details should be clearly listed, outlining the requirements for receiving the bonus. 

Be sure to thoroughly review your contract, as they may contain penalty clauses for canceled shifts or early contract terminations. For example, if a traveler misses a shift for any reason, there could be an $8 fee per day (plus the lost income from not working that shift). Also, a clause may protect your weekly pay if a facility cancels your shift and affects your guaranteed hours. Of course, all facilities and contracts are different, so it never hurts for specifics.

Keep an Open Mind

Sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect travel nursing assignment, and you’ll learn that some of your nonnegotiables can be negotiated after all. Travel nursing is an excellent experience, so a few compromises may need to happen. Travelers with too many restrictions can find it impossible to secure a job. If your main priority is earning the most money, for example, your ideal location might look a little different. Being open and accepting chances is what makes travel nursing more exciting!

Your time as a travel nurse is a great opportunity to push yourself while exploring the country. Paying attention to every detail will help you find just the right assignment for you. Communicating with your recruiter regularly is also essential to ensure your contracts include everything you need to say yes!

Always remember: if it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t exist! If you’re looking for your next assignment check out our job board for the latest travel nurse jobs in the top travel nurse locations!

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