How Long Are Travel Nursing Contracts? Planning Your Travel Nursing Schedule

Being a travel nurse comes with so many adventures and varieties on the job. You have the freedom to travel from coast to coast, region to region, and all the states in between. And we can’t forget about the pay!

But what happens when you love a travel nursing assignment so much you want to extend the date of your contract? You may fall in love with a location, ward, or the team of healthcare professionals you’ve been assigned to. But how long might you stay there? Or what if you actually want a travel nursing contract that’s short and sweet—like really short?

As the travel nursing profession grows and demands change, there has been an increase in the variety of available contract lengths for nurses.

How Long Are Travel Nursing Contracts?
The most common schedule for a travel nurse is a 13-week contract. This has become the standard length for many reasons, one being it’s enough time for a new nurse to acclimate to their new environment—the facility and the city. The contract usually starts with a predictable orientation period. This time varies from one orientation shift to a couple of weeks of orientation shifts, most likely depending on the unit’s staffing needs. This is where travelers can learn the specifics of the organization and their unit before they are on their own.

However, as mentioned previously, times are changing, and travel nurses now have more opportunities to take on shorter or longer travel nurse contracts. If you love being on the move, some places offer contracts as short as one or two weeks. With the continual nursing shortage, it has been easier and easier for nurses to extend. Also, more companies are providing completion bonuses and sometimes extension upgrades.

If you end up not loving a travel nursing assignment, the good news is it’s only temporary, and you can be off to the next one once your contract ends. If you do love where you’re working, your travel nurse agency can help you extend your time there as long as the facility agrees.

The One-Year Limit Rule
One thing all travel nurses must remember is that there is a one-year limit to staying in one assignment. While you can extend the same travel nurse assignment multiple times, once you’ve reached a year, you must not only leave the assignment but the location itself.

The reason is that, as a travel nurse, you receive non-taxable benefits, such as meals, housing, and transportation. This one-year limit prevents anybody from abusing the benefits by extending their travel nursing contract beyond one year. In the eyes of the IRS, you would be working a permanent role should you go over this one-year period. The assignment state will also be considered your tax home, and any benefits will be deemed taxable, thus removing you from travel nurse status.

As a travel nurse, your schedule changes with each assignment and affects some aspects of your life. This includes simple things like the state or country you live in, where you buy your food, where you live, etc. However, once you know how your travel nursing schedule looks and what you can expect, it will be easier to plan your life accordingly. During your free time or in between assignments, you can get caught up on other tasks like doctor appointments or just take time to rest and catch up with loved ones.

There is a lot more flexibility with travel nurse contracts than people think. Depending on your lifestyle and what you’re looking for, there’s almost always something available—whether it’s a standard contract, something shorter, or a contract extension.

If you’re ready to find the right travel nurse assignment, take a look at our job board to get started. See you on the road!

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