By September 23, 2009 2 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: What should I do if the hospital cancels my contract?


In last week’s post, I mentioned that there might come a time when a hospital terminates your contract. Although it is rare for this to happen, in over a decade of travel, I can say that I have had two contracts that were terminated by the hospital. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do in this situation.

The first thing you should do if you are notified that your contract is cancelled, or might be cancelled, is to notify your recruiter. In travel nursing, the contract that you sign is between you and your travel company. So in fact, the contract of employment that the hospital will be terminating is the one they have with your travel company. Therefore, you need to get your company in on what may be happening. If your contract has already been terminated, it might actually be your company that is notifying you of the termination. Either way, your company is the one that has established your contract of work and should have answers for you, or, if they are also in the dark about the termination, be the ones who can get the answers for you.

Whatever the cause, if you find that your contract will be terminated and you won’t in fact be returning to work, contact your recruiter immediately. If you are able to stay in the area for another thirteen week contract, ask your recruiter if there are any other travel assignments in the area. I was terminated in L.A. and my recruiter had me interviewed, accepted, and back to work in one week’s time. Now you must understand that this was L.A. and you might not find a dozen jobs waiting for you if your contract was in Boise, Idaho. However, you might find something close that will enable you to continue work without having to return home.

The next thing you might consider is working registry or agency if your travel company has this option. Some travel companies also have a division that runs like a temp agency and might be able to find you work in the area that will let you finish out your contract. If your company does not offer this, you might be able to find a local agency that staffs the area hospitals and would allow you to finish the time you have left in the area. The reason you might want to do this is because it is possible, depending on the reason for the termination, that your travel nursing company could hold you responsible for payment of the remaining time on the lease (if you have company housing). All of this is of course dependent on your situation and there are about a thousand variables in any given situation.

While having a contract terminated can be a horrible thing to happen, it is not the end of the world. Talk to your recruiter immediately and find out your options. There are too many different things that can happen when a contract is terminated to cover every given situation (in my book, I devote about eleven pages to this single subject). The key is open communication with everyone involved to see what can be done. You might never have the unfortunate situation of having a contract cancelled, but hopefully you now have a few ideas on where to start should it happen to you.

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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.

2 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: What should I do if the hospital cancels my contract?"

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  1. tilly says:

    Had Hospital cancel and ompnay dropped me. Probably to keep contact with Hospital? Was told first day if I didn’t work out I would be cancelled. What could I have done? Did tell recruiter just told to hang in there,how do get another company without looking negative.

  2. David says:

    Getting another company is the easy part. Contract cancelations are more common today than they used to be, but your company should know which hospitals are chronic offenders of this.

    If you need a few good contacts at some other travel companies, feel free to email me at

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