7 Important Considerations in Every Travel Nursing Contract
As a travel nurse, a contract prefaces every assignment you take on. It’s a document that outlines all the important nuances of the job you’re accepting: pay, benefits, tax implications, work expectations, and more. These contracts are extremely important to understand, because they set the tone for the next 13 weeks ahead of you. Before you sign one, you need to know what you’re getting into. Thankfully, most travel nursing contracts are fairly standard, and getting familiar with them is simple — especially when you have a great recruiter on your side.
Get familiar with contracts
Getting your first assignment as a travel nurse is exciting. But while it may be tempting for new nurses to sign the first agreement that comes along, it’s important to understand what, exactly, you’re agreeing to. In some cases, it may be beneficial to negotiate more favorable terms so that you can make the most of your time.
It can be challenging to know what to look for when reviewing a contract, especially if you’re unfamiliar with some of the basic terms and jargon. As you progress through your career, you’ll notice that many of the contracts you encounter will be structured the same. Over time, you’ll get very familiar with many of the key concepts and terms.
Pillars of travel nursing contracts
While contracts might have subtle differences, most of them will revolve around seven core tenets. Here are the main areas of a travel nursing contract you need to be aware of:
- Travel Reimbursements. There are two major types of travel reimbursements that cover your expenses as you journey to and from your assignment destination. Flat-rate reimbursement is the most common; per-mile reimbursements are less common.
- Licensing Reimbursements. You need to hold a current and valid nursing license within the state of your assignment. This isn’t always covered by the facility where you’ll work. If you need a new nursing license for a specific assignment, many agencies will reimburse you for the costs associated with obtaining licensure.
- Benefits. Be sure to ask your recruiter about benefits involved with any assignment. In some cases, companies will offer a monthly tax-free allowance for health insurance. Your contract will note other benefits.
- Housing. Some agencies provide housing during your assignment, while others offer a monthly stipend. Take into account your wants, needs, and rental prices in the location as you agree to housing contract terms.
- Pay rate. Most contracts will specify an hourly rate for your services during the assignment. There are also subsections to consider, such as required and guaranteed hours, on-call rates, overtime rates, and missed hours penalties.
- Tax-free payments. You may be entitled to tax-free benefits if you’re working away from your tax home. To provide insight into entitlements, your contract will outline what these tax-free payments are and their amounts.
- Overtime. You can often negotiate overtime rates separately from your hourly rate. Depending on the facility and census demand, this is an opportunity for travel nurses to make contracts more lucrative.
Ask questions and negotiate where necessary
Contract negotiations are an important part of making the most of every travel nurse assignment you take on. As you work with your recruiter to specify terms for an assignment, don’t be afraid to ask questions or to negotiate higher rates. Use this guide as a reference and arm yourself with information that helps you earn top dollar for your time, effort, and skills.