20070118

Travel Nurse: Contract Items You Need To Address

I have received quite a few e-mails lately wanting to know some of the nuts and bolts of signing up with a travel nurse agency. Apparently quite of few of you are worried about taking a travel nurse job in a new state, moving and then finding out that your hourly pay or your hours are not guaranteed and you are not able to make ends meet. A legitimate concern indeed. I debated between either addressing the e-mails I have received or writing about our recent visit to Wakulla Springs, Florida in today’s post. The e-mails won. I will recount the Wakulla Springs trip later this week when I get another chance to write.

Before I start any new travel assignment, I make sure I have a written (not a verbal) contract with my agency. It has been my experience that promises made over the telephone between me and the agency don’t mean much until they are reduced to writing. Agencies experience personnel changes and the person who made the verbal promise may no longer work for the agency when it comes time to enforce the promise. Also, people’s memories become foggy when you try to get them to honor verbal promises they no longer want to honor.

The following is a list of items you need to address in your written contract:
1) Is there a provision in the contract guaranteeing my assignment? The concern here is that you move to your new assignment and the position is no longer available at the facility. Your agency should then be responsible for finding you another similar assignment in the same area or paying you until they find an available assignment.

2) Are my hours and pay rate guaranteed? You do not want to get to your new assignment and find out that the pay you think you are going to receive only applies if you work as a charge nurse on the night shift when you were supposed to be working as a regular floor nurse on days. Also, because you will likely be receiving a higher pay rate than the other nurses, facilities would generally rather send you home first when the census is low. Make sure your contract contains guaranteed hours.

3) How often will I be paid? You will likely not have much control over whether you are paid every two weeks or every month as agencies pay you when they are paid from the facility. However, you do not want your agency to hold on to your funds once they have been paid by the facility. I personally have never run into this problem, but you never know.

4) Will I be paid by my agency or the facility? I personally prefer to be paid by my agency. It creates more consistency for me as I travel from one assignment to another. If there is a problem with my check I know who I need to contact.

5) If I am going to a large metropolitan facility, will I have to pay for parking? This may not seem like much, but some facilities seem to try to make a living off charging their employees for parking and other related items.

I think the above addresses the specific e-mails I have received. Other items you may want to address in your contract are: Will I be paid via direct deposit or bank check?; and what items will be deducted from my paycheck? If I think of any others I will try to include them in a future post.

Also, one final bit of advice, read through your travel nurse contract and make sure the above items are in there. Do not assume that because you have discussed an item the item is addressed in the contract. If you have a question as to where the item is located in your contract bring it up with your agency contact. More often than not she can show you where the item is addressed or add it if it has not been added.

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