Travel Nursing Contract - Always Get it in Writing!

I recently received an email from an upset travel nurse who had been shafted by her travel nurse company during her first (and last) travel nursing assignment.  She said her recruiter tried to talk her into taking a "weekend option" position at a hospital working two 12 hour shifts every Friday and Saturday night.  Her pay would be $37/hour.  After a little research she decided she really liked the hospital and location, but not the idea of working every weekend, and only 24 hours per week.  She eventually reached an agreement with her recruiter to work every other weekend for 36 hours per week for lower hourly pay ($30/hour).  Her recruiter also agreed to allow her to take her daughter's birthday off.

Get Every Detail In Writing
After verbally agreeing to the terms of employment, this nurse signed a contract with the travel nursing company.  However, instead of stating exactly what she and the recruiter had agreed upon the contract stated: "Travel Nurse will be expected to work every other weekend if needed." 

When she arrived at the hospital, she was given a work schedule which had her working every weekend instead of what she had agreed upon with her recruiter.  When she told the unit manager she was contracted to work every other weekend, she was told the only way she could get full time hours would be to work every weekend.  She was also required to work on her daughter's birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!  All in violation of what she had discussed with her recruiter.

She contacted her agent at the travel nurse company, but couldn't reach her agent for over a week.  When she did get her agent, she was told nothing could be done about the work schedule except to get another travel nurse to cover the days she wanted off.  She was irate.

We all know that travel nurses are brought in to fill scheduling gaps, but let's be honest...this nurse was given the old "bait and switch" by her recruiter.  The moral of the story is: Make sure you get every detail in writing.  Read the contract over.  If there is more than one way to interpret a provision assume the agency or hospital will interpret it different from you.

Know Your Recruiter
Also, don't contract with a travel nursing company unless you have an excellent relationship with your recruiter.  Go with your instincts on this.  My instincts have served me well when dealing with recruiters.  If you have trouble reaching him or her before the assignment, chances are, you will have more trouble during your assignment.