Should You Take a Contract Extension?
You’re approaching the end of your current contract, when suddenly your recruiter asks if you want to extend your assignment. Do you do it? And if you do, what does it mean and how does it work in terms of a new contract?
Travel nurses generally like to move from place to place and experience new hospitals, so when they’re asked to stay, they can be unsure if they should. Accepting the extension or choosing to move on comes down to how you feel about the assignment.
Why contracts get extended
A contract extension is an agreement to extend your current travel nursing contract for a longer period. This means you’ll continue to work for the same hospital for an agreed-upon term. The length of a contract extension depends on the travel nurse and the facility’s needs.
Contract extensions aren’t always available, but there are some instances where they’re more common. Typically, hospitals will consider extensions prior to your initial assignment ending and contact your recruiter, who will reach out to you.
Hospitals may offer a contract extension if they are experiencing a busy season; for example, a Florida facility might request you for a few extra weeks in winter because of “snowbirds.” A facility may also be short-staffed, as nursing shortages are becoming increasingly common, or need someone to fill a locum tenens position.
Should you take a contract extension?
Extending a contract can have some benefits and some drawbacks. It’s important to consider these when making your decision.
- Ease and familiarity. Staying at your current assignment mitigates the need to move to a new city and undergo another hospital transition. While traveling is appealing, extending your contract lets you enjoy your current location a little longer before uprooting again.
- You can negotiate. Contract extensions don’t always use the terms from your previous contract. When considering an extension, discuss negotiations with your recruiter. You may be able to change the extension’s length and even negotiate for more pay. It’s important to note that a pay increase is not always possible if the facility is not willing to offer a higher rate.
- You’ve made connections. By the end of your assignment, you’ve likely made a few friends and professional connections. Extending your contract allows you to continue forging those connections – and much more easily since you won’t be taking time to adjust.
- Defeats the purpose. A lot of travel nurses think that contract extensions defeat the purpose of having a job that allows you to travel and relocate every few months. If you’re dedicated to the nomadic lifestyle, extending may not be for you.
- Harder to leave. A sad truth is that the longer you stay at a facility, the harder it might become to leave. The more friends you make, decorations you add to your home, and routines you fall into, the more difficult they will be to give up.
- Poor fit. Sometimes, a travel nurse gets offered an extension, but the hospital isn’t the right fit. Perhaps you don’t fit in with your colleagues or you’re unhappy with the unit you’re in. In this case, finding a new assignment would likely be better.
The decision to extend your travel nursing contract depends on your experiences with the facility, your desires, and your long-term goals. Don’t feel pressured to accept an extension simply because it’s brought up.
On the other hand, if you’re happy staying a few more weeks and getting more out of an enriching assignment, an extension could be great! If you don’t get along with the other nurses or are desperate for a change, consider taking an assignment elsewhere.