Being a travel nurse requires a willingness to risk stepping outside your comfort zone, a thirst for adventure, and an ability to roll with the punches. But that doesn’t mean you’re open to anything and everything along your travel nurse journey. To ensure you have a positive experience, you need to ask yourself, what length of the assignment will be ideal for me? Here’s what you need to consider to reach the answer that’s right for you!
Standard Assignment Lengths Are 13 Weeks But May Vary
While the standard length of a travel assignment is approximately 13 weeks, some hospitals offer contracts for shorter or longer periods. (Incidentally, the standard 13-week contract is designed to give you enough time to be effectively onboarded and effectively integrated into rounds, but not long enough to be regarded as a permanent employee.) And it’s not only assignment lengths that can vary. It’s also shift lengths, shift times, and the number of hours available. Some hospitals operate with 12-hour shifts, some with 8-hour shifts, or some combination of the two. Always carefully review your contract to ensure you’re giving “informed consent” to the terms of your assignment.
Benefits of Shorter Travel Assignments
Shorter travel assignments can be ideal for nurses who love to be constantly on the go, exploring new places, and meeting new people. Depending on the position, shorter assignments tend to run eight weeks or less. For the sake of job security and resume continuity, it’s especially important to ensure you have your next assignment lined up well before your current one ends. Be aware that housing for short-term assignments can be more difficult and expensive to procure. (Most apartment complexes offer lease agreements for only 6-12 month increments. Those that offer shorter lease agreements often cater to corporate relocations and thus command rents well above standard market rates.)
Benefits of Longer Travel Assignments
For travel nurses who like the experience of having more time to settle into a new place and more slowly develop personal and professional relationships, longer assignments can be ideal. In some cases, longer assignments (six months or more) may be available from the get-go. But if you find yourself on an assignment in an area in which you love and wish you could stay, don’t assume this isn’t an option. The chances are good you can negotiate with your agency (or even another) to extend your contract. Depending on your track record and the strength of the relationships you’ve built, you can often extend your contract for six additional months or even an entire year! (Find five tips for successfully extending your contract here!)
Whether you prefer the stability of longer assignments or the fast-paced adventure of shorter ones, knowing your options can ensure your experience is a positive one! And remember, even if you’re still not sure about the length of assignment that’s ideal for you, you can always explore this subject further with other travel nurses. At Nurse First, we’re here to ensure you feel comfortable and excited about your assignment and as supported and well-prepared as possible! Visit our website for more tips about travel assignments and a wealth of information on how to get the most out wherever your travels may take you!