Let’s talk about your assignment contract! This is the single most important document of your travel nurse assignment. It’s ironclad and often non-negotiable. You and your recruiter will discuss requested time off, overtime, etc. But, if you remember nothing else, remember that if it is not in your contract, it does not exist! In the best-case scenario, your recruiter will thoroughly explain everything your contract should have in it in order to make your assignment smooth and hassle-free. Since that may not be the case, especially during your first assignment, I’ll highlight some things you want to make sure are spelled out in clear, concise terms before you sign on the dotted line. Ready? Here we go!
1. Pay: Your pay rate is sure to be included on your contract, but here are a few things you want spelled out. Should you want to pick up overtime, how much is the pay rate for overtime? Is it higher than the regular pay rate? What portion of your pay is untaxed? Is there a per diem rate? Are there shift differentials? Meaning, will you get more money for working night shift? Is there extra money for floating? For being the charge nurse?
* Note: Does your assignment have a sign on or completion bonus?? Be sure the amount and payout dates are in your contract. Does your company reimburse you for licensing fees? Travel expenses?? Again, be sure the amounts and pay out dates are detailed. One thing I didn’t realize when I did my first assignment was the importance of having travel and licensing expenses available before your assignment begins! It can be expensive to travel to and from your assignment, so it’s important to know when your company will reimburse you.
2. Time Off: Now this one’s tough! Your contract will include your start and end date of your assignment, but unless you specify what dates you want off, you are not guaranteed any time off during your assignment! This is very important, because you may want to have family or friends visit. You may want to go home briefly during your assignment. I have had friends denied time off to go home for family emergencies, so I cannot stress the importance of this enough! Be sure to discuss with your recruiter exactly when and under what circumstances you would like to be off. If you don’t, the travel agency will leave your requests up to the hospital/facility schedulers. Some facilities are traveler friendly and will work to accommodate your request; but, try not to leave your schedule requests up to chance.
Also, know exactly when your contract obligates you to work. Is your assignment schedule for every other weekend? Rotating between day/night shift? Will you be required to float? If you are floating, what kinds of patients will you be caring for? Get.It.In.Writing. Okay?
3. Housing: I’ve read blogs that advise travel nurses to not sign contracts until they have housing details worked out. I have not had any major housing issues, but here’s my advice. If you opt to have the travel company secure housing for you, know what is included in the standard furniture package. If you have to rent any devices/appliances, make sure the rates are included in your contract.
Stay tuned and as always, questions/comments are welcome!