Travel Nursing Terminology: How to Speak the Language

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, June 10, 2021 Posted in Travel Nurse Tips

nurse communications

Ready for a new locum tenens career? Up for a rapid response nursing assignment? Travel nursing is an exciting career, but it comes with its own language. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to get familiar with some of the terms you’re likely to come into contact with. Learning how to speak the language can give you important insight into what to expect as a travel nurse, no matter where your next assignment takes you.

General Vocabulary

  • Travel Nurse: A nurse who takes assignments in healthcare facilities with short-term staffing needs. Assignments typically last 13 weeks, but contracts can be as short as 4 weeks or as long as 26 weeks.
  • Tax Home: Your tax home is your home base — the place where you’ll return once your contract is over. Tax home is indicated by legal and historical ties, including driver’s license, voter registration, car registration, mail delivery, and banking address.
  • EMR Project: Electronic Medical Record (EMR) conversion project contracts are popular at facilities updating their medical records. They’ll often bring in travel nurses with experience using a specific EMR to help make the conversion.

Contract Vocabulary

  • Guaranteed Hours: The number of guaranteed hours you’re paid per week. Keep in mind that, in certain circumstances, the hospital can call you off without pay.
  • Required Hours: The minimum number of hours you’ll work each week. The amount can vary widely, from 24 to 48 hours each week or more.
  • Approved Time Off: This would include days requested off in your contract for vacation, etc. If there are certain days of the week when you absolutely cannot work, talk to your recruiter and make sure there is a stipulation included in the contract.
  • Per Diem Nursing: These contracts offer temporary, daily work for travel nurses. Per diem nursing is a subset of broader travel nursing.

Pay Vocabulary

  • Stipend: A stipend, or housing allowance, is an essential part of your pay. It is the amount you are quoted in your contract for reimbursement of housing expenses, if you qualify.
  • Per Diem: Also known as “Meals & Incidental Expenses,” or M&IE. These allowances cover the daily cost of food and other incidentals you’ll need as you work away from your home base. Your contract may quote your per diem as a monthly or weekly rate, but they are always based on daily amounts.
  • Travel Reimbursement: If you qualify for travel reimbursement, your contract may specify an amount that the agency will reimburse you for travel expenses to and from your assignment.
  • Base Hourly Rate: Your base pay is compensation for each hour you work. This is equivalent to your hourly wage.
  • On-Call Rate: If you’re placed on call during your assignment, you’ll receive an hourly rate even if you’re not called in to work.
  • Missed Hours Penalty: Check with your agency to see if this is their policy.

nurse lingo

You’ll learn the language over time

It can be difficult to get a handle on travel nurse lingo if you’re just starting out in the industry. Refer to this post whenever you need a refresher on contract or pay vocabulary, especially before you take on a new assignment. Remember to maintain an open line of communication with your recruiter, always ask questions, and read carefully before signing a contract.

It can take a while for all of the travel nursing terminology to come naturally. It’s like learning another language! But, like all things, repetition and familiarity will help you become more comfortable with the terms listed above. Confused by any of them? A Health Providers Choice recruiter will always take the time to explain them to you. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

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.