You Get to Travel, But How Often?
Travel nurses in the United States benefit from adventure and variety on the job. As a travel nurse, you could visit places like glorious Florida, bustling New York City, the surfer’s paradise of Hawaii, the natural beauty of Alaska, and all the states in between. Travel while you’re earning.
You may find you fall in love with a location, a ward, or the team of healthcare professionals you’ve been assigned to. But how long might you stay there?
Many travel nurses love their job because of the change of location and role, as well as the exceptional travel nurse salary. Here, we explain all the considerations to bear in mind.
On average, travel nurse assignments are pre-agreed for the duration of 13 weeks. However, there are shorter-term contracts of eight weeks, and some that have stretch out to 26 weeks and longer. At the end of your contract, it may be that the healthcare provider could do with your skills a little longer than originally anticipated. They may offer an extension to your assignment, usually for a further three to five weeks (if your schedule allows).
This could suit you, especially if you feel comfortable within your team and facility, and you’re developing on a skill you’re enjoying.
Housing is an exceptional benefit that wins the hearts of nurses with itchy feet. It can be provided in various ways, such as:
- A property on lease with the agency, who continuously uses it to provide housing to their nurses close to hospital clients
- An individually located temporary residence arranged by the agency
- A sum paid to you (stipend) to arrange accommodation yourself
This is considered temporary accommodation solely for the purpose of carrying out your travel nursing duties on assignment. Therefore, should an assignment be extended, you must ensure accommodation is available and approved, and address any potential complications should an assignment be reduced.
The Right Location
If you’d prefer a longer-term assignment, ensure you look for contracts in locations that appeal to you. Here are some great locations to consider, for various reasons:
The Sunshine State with plenty of beaches, Florida is the home of vibrancy, and experiences annual population spikes, meaning travel nurses are in high demand
Alaska is a stunning picture of natural beauty, but also houses a growing healthcare industry that offers great pay
The pay isn’t top-end here, but the location is
Denver, Colorado attracts travel nurses who love to ski and are into winter hobbies, and is also a compact nursing state (Read more about this here: licensing regulations)
San Francisco offers higher-than-average salaries if money is your main motivator
· New York City
You’ll be busy during your shift, and maybe even busier during your time off in the Big Apple
Dallas needs a variety of nurse specialties, and is known for great food, music, and sports
Low-cost living with plenty to do in your spare time, and travel nursing in demand
A varied population of patients, and a location that offers a unique experience
Of course, the right licenses will provide you with the ability to expand where you can work. The most popular destinations to travel nurses can command waiting lists. But with the help of a specialist staffing agency like Loyal Source, you can plan your schedule in advance.
Your assignment may even lead to an extension, or even a permanent placement, where employment and residence becomes a long-term matter for both you and the healthcare provider.
It is possible that, despite your desire to travel, you do miss home. Perhaps you haven’t settled well in the area, or even the team, or the role itself. Here at Loyal Source, we’re strong advocates of job satisfaction. We strive to ensure all our travel nurses are happy in their role, and feel supported. You may have agreed to a 13-week assignment. But if you’re feeling the signs of stress, you must consider alternatives.
Travel nursing contracts must be clearly understood, so that should a situation arise, you’re aware of the process. Many healthcare providers will protect themselves from lost costs of a canceled assignment by implementing a cancelation policy, where a penalty is applied if you cancel before the expiry date. (It also works both ways, where you, too, are protected from a canceled assignment.)
You can read about contracts here. We are always available to our travel nurses should they feel an assignment isn’t working out, though doing some research on the role and location prior to applying will also help eliminate this scenario.
Taking Time Out Between Contracts
To help reduce home sickness and burnout, manage your assignments to accommodate time off in between. That’s one of the great advantages of travel nursing. You have greater control over when you work. Use it to your advantage.
As you travel around the states, you’ll get to know the kind of location and roles you prefer – and the ones that may be well paid but which you don’t like so much. Plan for them, scheduling motivating breaks after each assignment. Take time to recuperate and enjoy home life, before heading out onto a new, perhaps extended assignment in another great location.
Also consider what makes you love an assignment – the team, the duty, the culture, the salary – and strive for those in future assignments.
The One-Year Limit Rule
Here’s what you must know: there is a one-year limit to staying in one assignment. While you can extend on the same assignment multiple times, there comes a point (365 days) where you must leave not only the assignment, but the location itself. You must then take a ‘significant’ break from this location.
This is because, as a travel nurse, you receive non-taxable benefits, such as meals, housing, and transportation. This one-year limit prevents anybody from abusing this benefit by extending their assignment beyond one year, and, in the eyes of the IRS, working a permanent role.
Should you go over this one-year period, the assignment state will be considered your tax home, and any benefits will be deemed taxable, thus removing you from travel nurse status.
The date that you can return to the location and restart the assignment clock is a gray area. The IRS confirms three weeks is not long enough, and seven months is plenty – so it’s possible you could return to the assignment area after serving a different allocation for 13 weeks (the typical assignment period). They have clarified that summer vacations during school-based assignments do not qualify as a break in service (because of the seasonal case law rulings).
Generally, in the world of travel nursing, this isn’t a big deal. Afterall, you’re enjoying a travel nursing career because you thrive in variety. You have multiple locations in the palm of your hand to experience – a luxury many seek! Plus, there is the option to agree a permanent placement if you fall in love with a location or facility.
Get Up and Go Grab Your Next Travel Nurses Assignment
Having put this article together for you, we’ve got itchy feet ourselves. But we’re staying put, because we’re good at what we do here, and we love seeing our incredible travel nurses enjoying their careers far and wide, knowing they’re fully supported along the entire journey.
You’re great at what you do, and hospitals in every state need your skills. We’re here to connect the dots across the United States. We get you to your destination and ensure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
Contact Loyal Source today and discover your next exhilarating assignment that’s perfect for you.