Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I work at a facility on strike?

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Last week we discussed taking a travel nursing assignment with a facility entering into a strike. This week, we’ll take a look at what that entails.

Taking a contract with a facility on strike can be lucrative work, but that work also comes at a price, uncertainty. If you are contracted for a facility just entering into a strike, there is always a possibility that a settlement could be reached before you even arrive. Once you are there, a resolution is also possible at any time. However, you should be compensated for all the time that you have worked and often, you will even be compensated if you have not worked, but did take the time to travel to the facility.

There are just a few companies that offer strike work, but even so, I cannot tell you exactly how each will handle a strike assignment. The following is what I would generally go through to work a strike contract:

First, I would receive notification via email or a phone call that my company was looking to staff a strike sign at a hospital strikepotential strike in “state X”. I could probably easily know if I would be able to work this contract by the simple fact of whether or not I was licensed in that particular state. Most states have a certain degree of paperwork, applications, and a process to obtain nursing licensure. Strike work is often spur of the moment, so if you are not already licensed in that state, you might be able to weed yourself out quickly as a candidate. However, some companies offer to pay your license fees to keep you current in states where most strikes occur (New York, New Jersey, and California are top strike states).

Next, I would notify the company of my interest and they would make sure my file was up to date with all required licensure and certifications (ACLS, BLS, etc). When all this was complete, I would be told what day I was to travel. Often, the initial email or notification includes: date needed and length of initial commitment, date of travel and date to start work, base pay rate, overtime rate, and any special considerations. You can almost always assume that travel and lodging will be taken care of, but it is always best to ask.

Once I knew a date for my travel, I would prepare myself to leave on that day and await further information from my company. Up until the day of travel, I can call a phone number with the company to check to see if the strike action is still planned or has been cancelled. On the day of travel, I must call this number before I depart for the airport, and then immediately before I board the plane. If at any time, the strike is cancelled or resolved, I will not receive any compensation. Once I arrive, I must again call to check the status. If I travel to the site, but the strike is resolved before starting work, I should be entitled to somewhere between a few hundred dollars and possibly up to a grand (this is information made known beforehand). Return travel is then arranged by my company again.

If I start work and complete my initial contract, then I will often be asked if I want to extend. If I do, I will probably be asked to do this in weekly increments, but could probably specify a certain number of days most times.

Next week we’ll take a look at what to expect while working a strike.

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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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