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By July 27, 2012 8 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: My contract was cancelled, now what?


they cancelled my travel nursing contract- travel nursing blogs.comAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

I have just had my first travel assignment with a company called AMN Healthcare; 8 weeks into the assignment, my contract was cancelled. I have very limited experience as a travel nurse and I am very frightened about what will happen to me now. I did not get much information except that they did not think that it was a good fit; they were upset that I was pushing back to get dates off that I had negotiated and included in my contract that they agreed to before h and . I had to change airline flights in order to try and be a team player and they still cancelled my contract. What do I need to be concerned about in terms of outst and ing expenses to me? Do I have any recourse since my initial contract was broken when they failed to give me the dates off that were agreed to in the original contract?

Thanks; I appreciate your expertise.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

I am sorry that your first experience as a traveler ended with a canceled contract. They do not occur often, but they can happen. In over fifteen years as a traveler, I have had the unfortunate experience of having two contracts canceled on me for what were seemingly personal differences.

I always tell nurses that the first thing they should do in the event of a cancellation is consult their contract. What does it say regarding cancellations? From what you explained to me, it does not appear as if the facility has “cause” to fire you, but you need to ask your travel company what they officially list as the reason for dismissal.

Not having “cause” might net AMH some money as penalty clauses are becoming more frequent in contracts between the travel companies and the facilities. However, I have never heard of any of this money being passed on to the traveler. It simply protects the company from facilities canceling travelers without merit.

As far as outst and ing expenses, that really depends on your company and your contract. Some travel companies have it written into their contract that the traveler could be responsible for “fees or expenses” when the contract is canceled with cause, but some offer no protection and can leave the traveler on the line for expenses even if the facility does not show cause. That is why I always express to travelers the importance of reading their entire contract and underst and ing what can happen in the instance of cancellation. If I am going to take an assignment thous and s of miles from home and the contract states that I will be charged housing and other fees in any event of a cancellation (where no cause is needed), I will decline the contract; it just offers me NO protection whatsoever.

Unfortunately, the contract that was dissolved was between you and your travel company. The hospital had a contract that they broke with your travel company. This is one of the industry’s dirty little injustices. The hospitals isolate themselves legally from the traveler because they are contracting with the travel company. If you were to bring action against anyone, it would be against your travel company and it’s very likely that your contract with them states that it may be dissolved at any time. It’s one horrible aspect of travel nursing that nurses have come to accept.

Talk to your recruiter and see what your next move might be. If they can find you another assignment in that area, there is a possibility that you can jump into another contract and not even have to move from your housing (this happened to me on my first cancellation). See what options you have and if you are willing to take another contract with the company right away, it could also minimize the fees they will impose.

If you are with other companies, you might also try them to see if they have assignments in the area. I wanted to stay in L.A., but my travel company had no positions available. I called another company I was with (coincidentally, AMH) and they were able to find me an assignment in the area and they even took over my lease from my previous company so that I didn’t even have to move.

If you need some contacts at other companies, please email me at and I can give you a few names you can call immediately to see if they can get you another quick assignment.

If you would, please do the readers of this website a favor and let us know what happens. So often, we read about the problems encountered on the road, but never really know the full outcome.

I hope this helps and I am sorry that you had to start your travel career in this way.



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.

8 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: My contract was cancelled, now what?"

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  1. luv


    On my first contract, I was scapegoated during a narcotic discrepancy. That I was not present for. 10 vails of 10 mg of dilaudid. What Idiot would take that? The new manager’s friend was wotking that day and wanting a contract.

    My contract was cancelled. Not charges, no discipline, just cancelled. I submitted to lie detector and drug testing asap (before the halflife would be gone). He said, “no we will just do our internal process”. That was it. I know now don’t leave the unit until the count its finished and correct.

    That was in 1999, every contract I every have had, accept for 1, has been cancelled. Registered with several companies over time, same results. I felt like it was haunting. I said, I would just go sell shoes now.

    I have a BSN and 6 specialties. I still travel and do per diem. How do you protect yourself?

  2. David says:

    I would honestly have to know specifics regarding those contracts. Something doesn’t add up. I’ve been traveling for close to twenty years now and only had two cancelled contracts.

    What contract does your travel company sign with the facilities that allows them to do this? Most companies will work penalty clauses into their contracts with the hospitals should they cancel. Do the companies you work with do this?

    You can also have a heart to heart with your recruiter on which facilities have a habit of doing this. I can’t believe that some of these facilities do not have a reputation for doing this if it is happening to you that frequently.

    Had to say exactly without knowing specifics.


  3. Kelli


    I just had a contract cancelled too, and I am devastated. Even though it was a difficult unit to work and nurses leave that unit all the time (which I didn’t realize until I got there), I was in it for the thirteen weeks and did my best to make it work. First contract ever cancelled in 5 years of travel nursing. How do you learn of such facilities ahead of time and before you take the contract? Actually I think it is a blessing in disguise…this facility expects a nurse to insert an NGT and start tube feeding without doing an xray to confirm placement. Also they keep pressure on the suction all the way up the patients trachea. They think it is ok to scream at travel nurses in front of patients and family. They criticized my charting, accused me of giving a patient a cold bath, and then said it was a bad fit. Oh, and that they were so disappointed. Wah!! Well how do they think I feel? What a terrible experience! But I would rather have a contract terminated than be getting ready for a court date because the NGT placement was not confirmed and the patients lungs got filled with tube feeding. We were taught perseverence in nursing school for a reason which would be these types of situations. Not sure what else to do at this point but hang tough and search for another travel company. I suspect my current travel company is not too anxious to find me another travel job with this on my work record.

  4. Catherine Smith


    HELP I am an experienced travel nurse. My company got this contract ready for me months ago, I show up today for orientation and the hospital says I am a month early and my company screwed up with the date they gave me and there is nothing they can do.
    My company said they will figure it out, do I have legal means if this falls through? I will loose everything if I am out of work another month. Any suggestions?

  5. David says:

    Hey Catherine. I’m sorry this is happening to you. I cannot give legal advice as I am not an attorney. However, my assumption would be that while there may be legal recourse, it may not be worth the time and expense.

    I also cannot know all of the details of your contract and may have to assume a few things, but if it were me, I could suggest a few things to you that I might do in your situation.

    First, I would call my recruiter immediately and tell them that I would not be able to afford their mistake. Assuming I had already given them plenty of time to remedy the situation, I would simply say that they had 24 hrs to find me another contract in the same city or I would need to find other options.

    Now it does become tricky after this because I do not know if you are in company housing or not. If I was, I would tell them that they need to agree, in writing, to pay my rent, without any penalty or fees, for the amount of time I was waiting to begin work.

    If I were not in company housing, then it could make it easier to sever ties with the company. You also need to know what your contract states in regard to canceling your contract. I usually sign good contracts that allow me two weeks to cancel, for any reason, if done so in writing. Most contacts are not well written and may have a penalty clause in them if you are the one to cancel.

    This may also become the point where it might be helpful to spend a few bucks to have an attorney simply review the contract in a consultation.

    If you are a seasoned traveler, you may be like me in that you are on file with multiple companies. I would have already called two or three other companies to have them find me something in the same city or as close as possible.

    You can also find work in local registry or agency. I have done this for extra money, but you could also do this until the assignment was to start (if you are even still thinking of going down that road).

    You could also approach the hospital and ask about working per diem or float pool for them.

    Much depends on your contract and what it states. I cannot tell you to walk away from something that may have repercussions, but I would probably get as far away from this company as I could. Even if you have been with them awhile, it is on them to make this right. If they could not, then I would be off to another company and let them figure out what to do with the hospital about their mistake.

    I hope this helps provide you with a few options and if you have the time, I would love to hear more information on the company and the outcome. Feel free to email me directly at


  6. Petra Johnson


    Hi my Contract was just canceled by the hospital I have worked for them a tough 7 weeks. because I had worked there 2 years ago my Orientation was nil and their computer system kept messing up. Long story short I gave pain meds that the often malfunctioning computer didn’t log into the MAR I did make note of the med. being given in the notes. They had me come in for a Urine test and no problems with that. Other staff had similar problems with the computer. However inspectors just been thru with another inspection expected and they said that they just can’t have undocumented narcs. I get that and was not aware that I needed to check at the end of the shift that all meds actually registered once scanned. Been a traveler for 7 years and a nurse for 17 with a clean record now I am scared . I had pushed for this assignment with AMN since I worked here before but did not expect this. No grace period or info that there was an issue simply your performance didn’t live up to our expectations. I needed references and now I just don’t know what to do.

  7. David says:

    Hey Petra. I’m sorry this happened, but to look at the bright side, at least you didn’t get caught up in having to defend your license for any narcotic discrepancy.

    As far as references, in twenty years of travel, I believe I have only ever obtained a total of four references and used them throughout my career as a traveler. As long as they are someone who the travel company or hospital in able to reach, I really do not believe references have an expiration date.

    As a nurse for 17 years, do you not have someone in your past from whom you may obtain a reference? Even if it is a fellow travel nurse or someone with whom you have stayed in contact from a previous assignment.

    Additionally, no one says that it has to be a nurse. How about a travel recruiter with whom you have worked? A respiratory therapist? A neighbor who you once helped with a medical issue. Virtually anyone who can attest to something positive about you can be used as a reference.

    I cannot validate this and I’m sure it varies from facility to facility, but your letter of reference should take a back seat to your experience as a nurse.

    Worst case scenario, explain your situation and the incident that took place (including that you were cleared of any wrongdoing) and provide personal references.

    I hope this helps and I wish you better luck on your next contract.


  8. Jeni Fad


    I just discovered the contract at a Duke Lifepoint Hospital in NC (for which I had 4 weeks left) exclusive to AMN Health Car was canceled after traveling a total of 6 hours to and fro. I quickly shuffle to call the recruiter who is usually hands on to discover that its a hands off situation. Of course today being Good friday, although I left a vm, I was not expecting to reach anyone. However, I get a call back from some person there that claims that she’d tried to reach me several times. Really?! If she’d asked the recruiter he would have told her that I had another phone number or perhaps use the email. Of course I’m upset that I drove that distance and spent gas to get there, she was unapologetic and I was annoyed with the issues that the facility claimed I breached, one being a grumpy NP that looked like much of the time that she was in pain stated to the mgr that her patient being in her 80’s claimed that I almost gave the wrong meds as per the patient. Not possible because its a scanning system. The other was a personality clash between a staffer who thought that she could talk to me as if I was her child. Lastly, a medication drip that was supposed to be dc’d but didn’t get dc’d until 3 hours later. This same NP that complained that I almost gave her patent the wrong medicine rarely communicated with me about anything concerning her patients. You would have thought that she would have called me to tell me that she was discontinuing the Cardizem gtt. I would steer clear of this place unless you were on nights. Its not somewhere that you would enjoy simply if you aren’t apart of their small tight knit clique in addition to having an awful McKesson knockoff medication adminitration and charting system that hardly ever worked right requiring one to sign in several times as it would knock you out of the system, no secretary on day shift …. the busiest shift of all, plus there is no such thing as getting a phone interview. Now I know why. I am so done with travel nursing. You have no rights as a travel nurse. There has got to be something better for me.

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