By October 20, 2009 4 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: What your travel contract should include.


Last week we touched on the travel nursing contract. This week we’ll take a look at a few things it should include.

A travel nursing contract should spell out the employer’s expectations of you in your job role as well as the things that you expect from your employer. Some companies will have you sign a “work agreement” that stipulates such things as maintaining a professional attitude, following the hospital policies and procedures, and maintaining licensure. This document may cover you for several different assignments over the course of six months to a year or longer. This document is basically just saying that as long as you work for “Travel Company X”, you will uphold the standards of your profession.

A travel contract, on the other hand, will only be for one assignment in a single location. It should contain items such as:

• The name and location of where you will be working
• The unit in which you will be working
• The start date and end date
• The shift and hours you will work (ex. 12 hour nights, 8 hour days)
• The pay rate (including overtime and holiday rates)
• Any start or end travel money to be paid (or your travel allowance cap)
• Any facility or travel company bonuses
• Deducted amount for any health, dental, vision, or other company plans
• Any special rates such as on-call or charge pay
• Money paid for monthly housing allowance or if company housing will be provided
• Any scheduling requirements such as working every other weekend

In addition to these standard items, your contract should also include anything that you negotiate with your company. For example: If you are willing to give up your travel money in exchange for a big screen TV being provided with your apartment. Anything outside the normal provisions on an assignment should be reflected in the travel contract. This is not to say that things that you and your recruiter agree upon will not be upheld should there be a problem, but it is always nice to have things in writing.

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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.

4 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: What your travel contract should include."

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  1. Melissa J. Farley says:

    The information you wrote on your blog is very helpful. I am attempting the travel nurse route for the first time and have been an RN for 4 years now. What are the top 4-6 travel companies you would recommend and how many would you suggest working with for a first timer? – With sincere gratitude – Melissa

  2. David says:

    Hey Melissa. I wrote you an email with the info you requested.

    When I refer people to travel companies, I like to give them specific names rather than just the companies. After all, you can work with the best travel company in the world, but if they pair you with a recruiter who only has a month on the job, how good an experience do you think you might have?

    Since much of the contact info I give out are back-lines or personal extensions. I prefer not to post that info on a forum. However, again, you should have an email from me regarding this info.

    If not, please feel free to email me at and I’ll be happy to forward that info.

    (Additionally, if any readers of this blog would like some help getting started in travel nursing, please feel free to email me, tell me a bit about yourself professionally, and I will help you with your questions and also some great contacts at good companies)


  3. Paige says:

    Great articles! So what recourse do you have when the hospital refuses to honor the terms of your contract. I am 7 weeks in to a 13 week assignment and specifically had a no float clause written into the contract. This was specifically discussed in the interview with the manager, so it is not like the facility was unaware of it. Now 7 weeks in they say they will not honor it because it has “upset” the other travelers. I am the only traveler who has it written in their contract. I am highly disgusted by the level of malificient behavior on the part of the hospital. I told my recruiter that I would finish the contract because it is the professional thing to do, and that at least one party needed to show some integrity. I have this clause written into every contract, and discuss it with every manager; I do this because so many hospitals want to float you to areas not in your skill set.

  4. David says:

    Hey Paige. Unfortunately, the answer to your recourse question is, not much.

    You certainly do have the option to walk on the contract, but that could have its own set of issues, none of which would be any fun.

    I would certainly not hesitate to involve my recruiter and ask that the travel company correspond with someone at the facility
    in regard to the breach. If your travel company is untested, now would be a perfect time to see how they respond to a problem encountered on assignment. I have always maintained that you can never have a true measure of a travel company until you see how they respond to issues occuring on the road.

    You could also write into your contract to which areas you would float. For example, if you work critical care, you might stipulate that you would only float to other critical care areas or ER. This might satisfy a facility’s float policy and keep down the roar of other travelers who did not have the foresight to write such a clause into their contract 😉


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