By November 4, 2009 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: What do I do at the end of a travel nursing job?

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My assignment is coming to an end. What now?

Most seasoned travel nurses can tell you the options available at the end of a travel contract, but if this is your first assignment, you might be left wondering, “What now?”

As your contract draws to an end, you should actually be thinking about this question long before your final work day. In fact, you might even be able to exercise some options only a short time into your contract.

One possibility at the end of your contract is to extend. Actually, this is probably the most frequently used option as most travelers prefer to stay in locations they like. If you know this is going to be the case, talk to your unit manager (or the person who was responsible for your travel contract) as soon as possible just to let them know that you would be interested should the opportunity for an extension be available.

When I travel to Hawaii, I usually stay anywhere from six to eleven months at a time. I have asked unit managers how long they thought they would need me only weeks into my contract. On my last trip, I was able to extend my contract by three months while only in my first few weeks of a thirteen week assignment. You won’t be able to do this on most assignments, but it never hurts to ask.

Typically, you should approach your manager about extending a month before your contract end date. This gives them enough time to know that you are interested, as well as giving them enough time to know what their staffing needs might be for the unit. It also never hurts to let your intentions be known earlier. Most managers are not allowed to come to you to ask if you would like to extend (it’s viewed as recruiting). So whenever you feel that you would like to extend, let it be known and then follow up a month away from your end date.

Another option that should be exercised about a month before your end date is choosing another assignment. Some assignments may take weeks to interview and confirm. You can always call and speak to your recruiter and see for what dates hospitals may be posting assignments.

A final option might be that you wish to stay and become staff. Some locations actually make it known that travelers can only renew a certain number of times before they need to become staff or find another assignment. This happened to me on an assignment in California after several extensions. They figured if I liked it enough to stay, I should become staff. Unfortunately, I could never have afforded an apartment in the Los Angeles area without my company footing the bill, so I had to move on.

Whatever your choice, plan early and involve your recruiter (and unit manager if the choice is to stay). A good recruiter is there to help you whatever your decision might be.

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About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

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