Ask a Travel Nurse: Can I keep a good rep with my company if I break a contract?


couple fightingRecently I seem to be getting a lot of emails concerning breaking a contract. While it is not something I encourage, there are things that are beyond our control that might require such a drastic move. However, if done properly, you can minimize any costs and ill feelings from your travel company.

The first thing I ask the people who write to me is, “What does your contract say?” A travel contract should specifically address what happens in the event of a cancellation by either you or the facility. If your contract does not cover this situation, then you might also check any service agreements you signed with your company. My company, for example, has me sign a service agreement that covers the professional conduct I am to maintain while on assignment. It also covers what happens in the event of a cancellation by the facility or by me. This service agreement is only signed on a yearly basis and covers all assignments I might work with my company during the year.

After you read what your contract states (or perhaps what it DOES NOT state in some cases), you should call your recruiter. Be up front with them and tell them the reason behind wanting to dissolve your contract. Being a healthcare professional, you agreed to a contract and should have a good reason for wanting to sever it.

When contracts are dissolved is often the time where you will find out how good your travel company might be. If you are met with threats or bullying, then at least you will know that your next assignment should be with a different company. But, you might also find a company that is willing to work with you to minimize the damage and provide you with other travel opportunities in the future.

If you intend on traveling again once the situation is resolved, let them know that. It might even be possible for you to just take off a few weeks and then return to your assignment when you are able. The point is, don’t just call your recruiter and say, “I need to break my contract”. Explain yourself and work with your recruiter to find a solution that will make you and your company happy.

Open communication is key whenever you find you must modify an assignment contract.

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.

1 Comment on "Ask a Travel Nurse: Can I keep a good rep with my company if I break a contract?"

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  1. Jane Smith says:

    Do NOT take an assignment to Hilo Hawaii!!!! The average patient load is 9 and nobbody helps each other and nobody EVER gets a break. My recruiter painted a rosy picture and rushed me through signing on. Now I feel strongly that I am putting my license at risk and talked to them about breaking the contract but they are saying it will cost me nearly $7,000 if I do. Just a warning -this is not a good place to go. On top of working conditions it is very overcast and rainy and all beaches etc are over 2 hours away. DON’T DO IT!!!

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