What Every Travel Nurse Needs to Know About Cancelled Contracts
Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, March 14, 2019 Posted in On the Job
As a travel nurse, you sign a contract that locks you into your assignment. But signing on the dotted line doesn’t mean circumstances won’t change. Cancelled contracts can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you have control over them; sometimes you don’t. What’s important is knowing what recourse you have when a contract voids and how to prepare yourself for what’s next.
What does a “cancelled contract” mean?
If you’ve never had a cancelled contract before, you might be unsure what it means for you. Essentially, if your contract is cancelled, you are relieved of your responsibilities for that assignment.
Contract cancellation can happen when you least expect it, before or mid-assignment. Usually, this will be because of the hospital or facility cancelling for a number of reasons:
- Staffing issues — If the facility is undergoing staffing changes or training, they may request travel nurses to fill in the gaps. However, these things might change or get delayed, resulting in contract cancellations prior to your start date if the facility doesn’t need you anymore.
- Seasonality — Seasonality can shift the demand for nurses at your assignment facility, particularly in travel destinations that are busier in the winter months. If demand dips too low during your assignment, your facility might cancel your contract and send you home early.
- A poor fit — Sometimes, your assignment just won’t be a good fit for you, and you might encounter conflict with other staff members, scheduling, or patients. In these circumstances, your facility may opt to cancel your contract early.
You as the travel nurse may also need to cancel your contract for a few different reasons. Here are a couple of the most common:
- Family or personal emergencies — Not everything goes according to plan in life, and you may find yourself needing to cancel a contract due to a family emergency or a personal health issue that requires you to be at home instead of on assignment.
- Poor work environment — You may want to cancel a contract if the facility you’re working for is not adhering to your agreed upon schedule or if you’re having difficulty finding your groove. While it’s not recommended, cancelling your contract can give you the freedom to find an assignment that suits you better.
What happens after a cancellation?
After a cancellation, you’ll need to consult your staffing agency to determine your next steps. If you are able, your best option would be to ask for a new assignment. If you were in the middle of a cancelled assignment, getting an assignment in a nearby location will help you avoid moving. In the event of an emergency, you may need to go home and get settled before taking on a new assignment.
You’ll also need to check on the logistics of your contract to see if you owe any fees. Some facilities’ contracts include a two-week or four-week notice provision, meaning you can cancel your contract with two- or four-weeks’ notice, without any penalties. Other facilities may charge a fee to the agency if you cancel. Per your contract with the agency, you may be responsible for those charges.
If your contract is cancelled mid-assignment, it may also specify that you are responsible for paying for your housing lease and other expenses.
It’s extremely important to read and understand your contract before taking any assignment, so you know that you’re protected if your contract gets cancelled.
Rely on your recruiter
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do is make sure you are working with a reliable staffing agency that will back you in the event of a cancelled contract and work hard to find you a new assignment. You should also be in contact with your recruiter as soon as you think you’ll need to cancel a contract for an emergency. They may be able to work with you and the facility to reach an ideal outcome for all parties.
Your recruiter will be your key to finding new assignments, navigating your contract, and supporting you in the event of a self- or hospital-cancelled contract.
About the Author
Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.