By August 22, 2014 4 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: What do I need to make sure is in my contract?

travel nurse contract

Ask a Travel Nurse: What do I need to make sure is in my contract?

Ask a Travel Nurse Question:

What do I need to make sure is in my contract? I am going to be working with a Travel Nurse company for the first time and I want to make sure that I get everything that’s been promised to me.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

I think you may have answered your own question 🙂

ANYTHING that is promised to you should be in your contract. You also need to decide that if certain things are promised, and  not delivered, is it enough to cause you to “walk” on your contract. If you believe that you would ever consider doing this, then you need to also make sure certain things are NOT in your contract.

First, you should have the conditions of your work assignment. Things like the location of the hospital, unit in which you will be working, shift, hours per week, rate for base time, rate for OT and holidays.

Next you will want to look for the things that the travel company I providing for you, like medical/dental, housing or a stipend, and any reimbursements for things like state licensure or travel. Stipends or reimbursements should have a dollar amount attached to them and housing should specify a one-bedroom apartment (if that is what you agreed upon).

I mention the one-bedroom apartment because this is probably the thing most promised, and then not delivered. I have heard from many travelers that were promised a one-bedroom only to have their recruiter tell them they couldn’t find one, but would move them (from an extended stay hotel) to a one-bedroom as soon as one became available (which usually ends up being never).

To combat this, I always have the address of where I am staying at least a few days prior to arrival. If I were just starting with a new company, and they promised a one-bedroom apartment as part of my package, I would first make VERY clear to my recruiter that if I did not have the address prior to leaving, that I would NOT be leaving.

I would then hang up the phone and immediately call the company’s housing department and ask which apartment complexes they use in the area in which I would be traveling. Rarely, you may get to choose from a few complexes, but this is not the reason for my call.

If I am traveling to Ft Lauderdale for an assignment and they cannot even give me the names of a few of the complexes they have used in the past, what does that tell you about how many of their travelers actually see the inside of a one-bedroom apartment?

I also like to have my address so that I can start to arrange for things like my cable and Internet provider.

Along with the aforementioned items, your contract may also include things like your expectations while on assignment (act professionally, follow the facility’s rules and regulations, etc). However, sometimes these are signed in a separate yearly document that is labeled something like “professional practice agreement” or such.

One thing you also want to note is the terms and conditions of your contract as far as cancellations. This is one area in which you do NOT want to see certain things.

If a company puts too much of the risk on you (regarding hospital cancellations) then you may want to consider carefully whether you are willing to assume that risk. While cancellations are not common, they are also not unheard of and some contracts I have seen will possibly have YOU paying for a remaining lease, or other “fees and penalties” for not completing your assignment, whether it was by any fault of your own, or the facility just canceled your contract because they no longer had a need.

There will also likely be wording in there about what may happen should you decide to cancel your contract and what “fees or penalties” they may impose in that situation.

Every company will word this differently, so look out for these clauses and see if you feel it places too much risk upon you in the event of a contract cancellation.

While I am not an attorney and cannot under any circumstance give you (or anyone) a legal interpretation of a travel contract, I do enjoy reading them to see how the different companies operate.

If you (or anyone) would ever like my “opinion”, merely as a travel nurse, please feel free to email me at and attach a copy of your contract and I’ll be happy to look at it and give my opinion about any areas that would concern me.

I hope this helps.


First time bonus!

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 do I need to make sure is in my contract?"

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  1. Rosie says:

    Hi David – I’m Rosie , a PACU nurse which is currently on my FIRST travel assignment with Tailored Healthcare Staffing in Cincinnati, OHIO. IM WORKING weekend nights & feel the pay for weekends and nights, I should b receiving more than 30.00/hr. There’s NO shift differential, weekend diff, etc. told me because this us my first assignment the pay is what it is & they couldn’t increase it. I am loving this assignment, but don’t want to have to butt heads for future assignments regarding pay.
    I’m glad you stated you would look at contract before signing because I had a difficult time discerning a good vs bad contract. I will do that for my next assignment to California in December.
    So, my question to you – do you think the flat pay of $30.00/hr for weekend nights is reasonable or not. They are paying for my tiny studio apt. I pay for rental car, airline fair, gas.
    Thx for helping me as I want to remain traveling for many years!!

  2. David says:

    Hey Rosie. I actually no longer answer questions of worth when it comes to travel contracts. The reason being, how can I possibly know what a contract is worth to you?

    You are ALWAYS welcome to ask (and sometimes push) for more money if you feel the rate is TOO low. However, at the end of the day, YOU always have the option to say yes or no.

    Would you take a travel assignment that only paid $20/hr if you could still meet all monthly bills? What if I told you it was for an assignment on Maui and on your off days you could lay on a beach all winter?

    You can (and should) always push for more if you think it is warranted. The easiest way to make this point to a travel company is by using multiple companies and then telling your recruiter, “Well, company “X” also has this assignment, but they are offering $2 more an hour. I’d prefer to travel with you guys, but if I could make more money with the other company….” Recruiters usually have a little wiggle room on contracts, but there are occasions I have run into where my preferred company was drastically lower on their housing stipend. I ended up using my second choice company because the dollar difference was just too great.

    Every seasoned traveler uses multiple companies, so employee the practice of making this a known fact during your next negotiation (BEFORE you let a company submit you).

    If you are meeting all your bills with this assignment, and having a great time, leave it at that and learn a little something for your next contract negotiation.

    Hope this helps.


  3. sindy says:

    What do you know about Millena travel nursing? Im a first time traveler. Is this company a good company?

  4. David says:

    Hey Sindy. I’ve never heard of them.

    Check and see what you can find on the travel forums. Some good travel nurse forums can be found at,, and the Delphi forum for traveling professionals (go to, look for the box on the right that says “Explore existing forums”, type in “travel nursing” and the top result is a group called Travel Nurses and Therapists).

    Pan Travelers is also another good site with a forum and you can also join Healthcare Travelbook (, which is a sort of Facebook style place for travelers, which also has a forum.

    The amount of time they have been in business can be a consideration (not all “young” companies are bad, just as not all companies that have been in the business awhile will be good). Longevity just says that they have been doing this awhile and should have most of their ducks in a row (and it also means you should be able to find out more about them on the forums).

    Also look and see if they have a Better Business Bureau rating. Not all companies are accredited by the BBB (most might not be) but even if a company is not accredited by the BBB, they may have a rating and you can see if anyone has ever filed a complaint against them.

    Finally, I recommend simply typing the company name into a search browser with the word “complaint” or “review”. This sometimes yields some pretty interesting results.

    Hope this helps.


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