There is a clear demand for travel nurses, and it’s a career more people are looking into. Vivian Health identified the record-breaking demand for travel nurses in September 2021. It was 68% higher than in September 2020. The idea of traveling for work is appealing to some. But, there’s a lot that goes into becoming a travel nurse and, if this is a career you’re interested in, there are some things you need to know. Firstly, let’s talk about what you need to know about travel nurse contracts.
What is a travel nurse contract?
A travel nurse contract describes a series of arrangements between the nurse, the agency, and the hospital. There can be different types of contracts that travel nurses use including ‘standard’ and ‘crisis’. For example, a ‘crisis’ contract occurs when hospitals need extra staff urgently.
It’s important to note that on top of the initial contract made with the agency, travel nurses can negotiate specific terms in the interview with the hospital. Some of the terms they’re able to negotiate include: healthcare benefits, hours, rules, etc.
What is a ‘standard’ travel nurse contract?
The average time period the contract covers for travel nurses is 13 weeks. Keep in mind that this may change based on what has been discussed in interviews. Here are some things you should see in a standard contract:
- Agency’s name, and its representative’s signature
- Name of the Hospital, its location, and signature
- Nurse’s name, license number, security number, date of birth, and signature
- Time period (start date and end date)
- Job title
- Number of shifts per week
- Any additional agreements made
What to look out for in your travel nurse contract
Sometimes hospitals overlook nurses and need to terminate a contract last minute. This is why it’s so important to have an understanding of what happens if a cancellation occurs. Will you be reimbursed? Are you going to receive a pay cut? Will the agency immediately find you a new assignment? These are vital questions to ask your agency and look for in the contract.
After a time when people had to quarantine, sick pay really showed its importance so there needs to be an understanding of what happens when a travel nurse gets ill, whether that be from COVID or not. Travel nurse contracts should state whether you get sick pay when you have taken time off, and what ‘type’ of sickness allows you to get sick pay. Additionally, as COVID is still occurring it’s important to identify the hospital’s rules on whether they want travel nurses to quarantine when necessary.
Similarly, there needs to be an understanding of whether you will receive health insurance or not. Health insurance is crucial and increasingly offered by agencies. If this is offered by your agency there are a couple of questions that will need answering. Some questions you should ask include: How much will it cost? How long does it cover you for? What exactly does it cover? When does it start? This may take some research to find out, but it is vital that you do. Not all travel nurse agencies supply the same benefits.
What expenses does the contract cover? It’s a vital question you should find the answer to. Expenses can include a wide range of things from housing accommodation, travel costs, licensing fees, and more. The more you know, the easier it will be for you. It’s no good thinking your travel costs will get paid for, and it was never in your contract so you don’t get reimbursed.
Knowing your pay rate is crucial, and something you need to check is correct on your travel nurse contract. Your pay rate is something you can negotiate beforehand. If you think you deserve more money then make it known that your experience should cost more. However, it doesn’t mean your pay rate will be increased. If you don’t want to take a contract because the pay rate isn’t what you were expecting, then you can say no.
Finally, don’t be afraid to say no. It’s important to know what you want to get out of being a travel nurse before applying. It may be tempting to take the first offer given when you’re starting out, but it may not be beneficial to you. Double check the areas that we’ve highlighted in this article to make sure you understand everything you’re agreeing to. If a contract doesn’t suit you, you don’t have to take it.
Chloe Mumford is a content writer and researcher for US Tech Solutions. After completing her BSc in Sociology, Chloe transitioned over into the workforce management industry with an interest in talent solutions. She writes about on-demand talent solutions, Total Talent Management and the potential of talent technology. She can be reached via LinkedIn.