You’ve probably thought about travel nursing, especially if you’re a registered nurse with a resume on Indeed. Recruiters are always looking for experienced nurses to help add value to hospitals across the US. That doesn’t mean you’re ready to take a call just yet.
But that also doesn’t mean you don’t have questions. And we’re here to help answer five of the most common travel-nursing questions from nurses who have never traveled.
1.How do you request time off? Is time off paid?
Travel nursing is all about filling vital gaps in facility staffing, which is why travel nursing pay rates are often higher than staff nurses. But that means hospitals need this talent on the floor, working the hours the assignment requests, so it’s not a position you take to garner PTO. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for flexibility.
Most agencies will ask for any dates or vacations you plan on taking to let any facility know up front. If the dates work for the hospital, they will draft your contract to includes those dates off. In most cases, it’s very workable to get requested times off. But unlike staff positions, there is not paid-time off – you’re only paid for hours you actually work.
2. How is overtime or holidays paid? Will I work overtime or holidays or will this be at the hospital’s discretion?
Travel assignments will have enhanced pay for any overtime, holiday, or call back hours worked. Some assignments will call for every other weekend, every other holiday, etc. Some have no weekends at all. For this information, you’ll need to speak with your recruiter to confirm the assignment’s expectations for special shifts.
3. Is there any down-time between contracts or is that up to me?
Along with pay, flexibility is one of travel nursing’s greatest benefits. Want to stay at the facility you’re working? Ask your recruiter to work out an extension. Want to try something new? Ask your recruiter for new options before your contract is up.
A good recruiter will work with you throughout your assignment, presenting you with options for your next assignment so you can plan proactively. Some travelers like to roll right into the next contract, and some don’t. Ultimately, if you are working with a good recruiter, they will work with you to make your desired outcome a reality.
4. How do I get paid and can I have health insurance?
Like with any new job, you’ll of course fill out all the standard HR documents. As a travel nurse, you are a W-2 employee of the staffing agency. Your agency will handle all payroll taxes and you’ll see the same standard deductions from your check, including health insurance if you elect to take your agency’s health insurance.
You’ll complete all of this paperwork after signing an assignment contract with your agency and getting a start date.
5. What happens if my assignment ends and there aren’t any new contracts available?
It’s easily the most common fear nurses have before trying travel. And while it’s a possibility, it’s highly unlikely, especially if you’re flexible in where you’ll travel nurse. There is a national nursing shortage of which no state is exempt. A good recruiter will proactively work with you to help ensure you have a new contract waiting once your current assignment ends. Agencies don’t get paid unless you get paid.
Virtually every hospital has staffing needs, so it’s extremely unlikely there won’t be a need for your services. Just ask a travel nurse working on your unit.
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