Travel assignments for nurses and other allied pros provide unique and exciting working opportunities. Pay packages, travel compensation, housing, and work agreements all factor into these quick-turnaround assignments. As a result, negotiating the terms of your employment as a travel nurse can be a bit tricky: travel contracts won’t always meet the individual needs of every allied professional. But if you know what to look for, you’ll be able to find an equitable contract that works for you, every time.
What is a Travel Nurse Contract?
A brief definition: a “travel nursing contract” describes a series of agreements between the allied pro, the agency, and the hospital. Nurses have an employment contract with their agency. The agency then has a contract with a vendor sourcing manager that contracts with the hospital. (Pause for breath!) Smaller healthcare facilities may contract directly with the agency.
There are a number of different types of travel nursing contracts, including standard, and crisis, wherein the need for extra staff is very urgent and immediate. The contract between the nurse and the agency serves as an allied pro’s main tax document, in addition to establishing a nurse’s obligations and conditions for work. It will cover things like wages, benefits, reimbursements, and more.
In addition to the initial contract, travel nurses can negotiate for specific terms with the hospital during their job interview — this might include points like specific days off, floating rules, etc. To hold the hospital accountable to any agreements reached during this conversation, the staffing agency will then send an updated addendum to the hospital which names these specific agreements. This is what’s called a confirmation, generally administered after the nurse has accepted an offer from their next assigned facility.
Sounds a little complicated, right? Medely has found a way to streamline the process, to the benefit of nurses and hospitals alike. Medely is unlike any other agency in that it has no agents! Nurses and allied pros are automatically matched to ideal jobs based on parameters they set: and you can apply with the click of a button. And if you’re not sure about a position, our on-staff career advisors can help you figure it out. Working with Medely is easy.
What is included on a travel nursing contract will vary from agency to agency, and it will be the responsibility of the nurse to examine it and ensure that it meets their needs. Below, we’ve listed some crucial details to keep you in the know when looking over your next work agreement.
What to Look For in a Travel Nursing Contract
Above all else, your allied professional travel contract should be transparent, and clearly state your responsibilities as well as the obligations of the staffing company. For example, Medely goes the extra mile to clearly define expectations and requirements for the nurse as well as the hospital. Allied pros who work through Medely will always have the clearest picture on their work agreement.
Look for the following specific points in your contract, and ask your staffing agency as many questions as you feel are necessary.
Travel Expenses and Reimbursements
Travel nursing agencies will almost always cover travel expenses for nurses with commutes involving a cross-country road trip or plane ride. It can happen in one of three ways. One, you spend money out-of-pocket on initial travel expenses yourself and then are reimbursed by the agency later.Two, the agency purchases all tickets and gas for you as needed. Three, the agency pays out a set amount every pay period. Option three is how Medely does it: we give the maximum tax-free amount possible to traveling pros with each paycheck. This saves everyone money in the long run, and helps nurses maximize their payout. For more helpful tips on how to get the most bang for your buck, check out Seven Ways Travel Nurses can Maximize Their Pay.
Your agency should give a very clear explanation of how this is expected to happen. In addition, you should know how your expenses will be covered or reimbursed should an assignment be cancelled before you depart.
Speaking of cancellation. Especially in crisis situations, hospitals will sometimes overbook their travel nurses, and may need to pull their contract at the last minute. Know your agency’s policy regarding cancellations made by the hospital: will you receive a percentage of your pay? Will the agency expedite your assignments to find a new job for your right away? Will your travel expenses be reimbursed if you have not departed, or if you have just arrived and need to buy a potentially very expensive ticket back home?
Some agencies offer or arrange housing either through an internal system, or via a number of dedicated housing sites for travel nurses. (Want more info on housing for travel nurses? Look no further and check out our other article: Housing for Travel Nurses.) The bottom line is you need to know what your agency is offering and what you’re responsible for. Who’s paying for what, and when? If they’re setting it up, what happens if the assignment is extended or ends early? If you’re setting it up, where do you find a good spot to stay during your next assignment?
A top concern during the coronavirus pandemic, your agency should clearly spell out what happens if you get sick and can’t work. This should also include their quarantine policy as well.. You should know how many hours of quarantine pay or sick pay you’re entitled to for this assignment.
Health coverage is a given for full time hospital staff, but how does it work when you’re finding contract employment through an agency? It’s actually very common for nurses to receive insurance through their agency as employees of the staffing company. Easy!
Other staffing companies, such as Medely, partner with insurance agencies to provide their professionals with affordable, quality health insurance. Starting November 1st, medical pros working with Medely can enroll with Stride Health Insurance at the lowest rate possible. This offer includes medical, dental, vision, and life.
Getting sick on the job is a prominent risk for travel nurses, and you should make extra sure that you’ll be able to meet any medical expenses.
Last Thoughts: Travel Nursing Contract
Knowledge is power. Now that you’ve seen the five key things to look out for on a travel nursing contract, you’re ready to take on the world! That is, the world of travel nursing. You should know everything there is to know about your travel nursing contract. And if there’s something that doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Do you feel like you need more advice before getting started? Take a look at our other article, Travel Nurse Advice, for working tips that go beyond the contract.