Travel Nurse 101: What You Need to Know About Contracts

Knowledge Is Power

Your new chapter as a travel nurse fills you with excitement and enthusiasm. You’re keen to agree your first assignment and get started. But do you feel confident in what to look for in the small print of the contract?

When you have a full-time job in a hospital, contracts are reasonably standard. You’re used to them. They outline your work, salary, terms of employment, and so on.

Now you have been offered a job as a travel nurse, the contract may look more complicated. You’re not sure what it all means. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Understanding Travel Nurse Contracts Is Crucial

Working travel nurse jobs usually means you’re no longer directly employed by the hospital, or with standardized employee benefits. As a travel nurse, you’ll have a contract with an agency, with benefits, terms and conditions that align with the policies of the hospital you’re assigned to.

You’ll enjoy an exceptional career while traveling the United States and take advantage of the awesome benefits of travel nursing. However, these benefits and perks can vary from one assignment to the next. Therefore, it’s crucial you feel confident assessing each contract to ensure you’re protected in the way you’d expect.

What to Pay Attention To

Knowledge is power. Here’s what you need to clarify when checking contracts for each assignment:

Cancellation Policies – If You Cancel

There may be penalties that you need to be aware of should you cancel on an assignment or miss hours. This is to cover losses incurred by the hospital or agency for expenses or recruitment. But fear not…

Cancellation Policies – If They Cancel

The same should apply if the hospital cancels on you. Check to ensure the contract includes guaranteed hours. Travel nurses are often called upon in crisis situations, which then resolve without the need for the assignment to go ahead. Make sure you’re protected, and get clarity on:

  • How much you’ll get back
  • Whether you’ll be found alternative assignments in replacement
  • Your already-spent travel expenses being reimbursed

Cancellation policies often work both ways, but always invest a little time checking for peace of mind.

Travel Expenses and Reimbursements

There are various ways you’ll have your travel expenses covered to reach your assignment:

  • You pay initial outlay and claim reimbursement for the exact amount afterwards
  • The agency pays for expenses as and when needed
  • You’re paid a set amount every pay period to self-manage

Make sure you know what to expect, as well as what will happen if an assignment gets canceled or extended.

Housing Policy

Traveling the U.S. and having your housing provided is a terrific benefit; but never assume it – always check it is part of the deal. If it is (which is likely), there are various ways it is arranged; either by the agency, or financed to you to sort. Make sure you know:

  • Who’s paying for what and when
  • What happens if an assignment is extended or reduced

Peace of mind is essential.

Health Insurance

When traveling far and wide on the frontline, you must look after your health. Confirm health insurance is provided, whenever you’re on the move and working.

Sick Pay

As a travel nurse, it’s likely you’ll need to budget to cover any potential sick time off. Discuss what would happen if you became unwell, including financial queries regarding quarantine, and whether you’ll be entitled to any pay.

Clarify and Negotiate

You’ve studied the contract and looked for these key points. Before you sign, make sure you:

  • Clarify – you must feel confident and comfortable in all the terms and conditions. If you don’t understand, reach out to the agency for assistance.
  • Negotiate – if there’s something that doesn’t sit well with you or doesn’t work for you and your circumstances, make this clear. A ‘confirmation’ will be made, stating your specific requirements, pending agreement from the hospital.

Find Your Perfect Travel Nurse Contract

A travel nurse contract can appear daunting, especially if you’re new and used to standard hospital employment. But it is there to protect you. With knowledge in what to look out for to ensure you pack your suitcase with confidence and enthusiasm, you can reap the incredible lifestyle travel nursing can deliver.

We have many great opportunities for travel nursing assignments at Loyal Source – whether you’re traveling far and wide, or closer to home.

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