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Understanding Travel Nurse Contracts

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What's in a
Travel Nurse Contract

Travel Nurse contract for a proposed assignment, such as at a hospital in the destination city, is the definitive statement of all of the Travel Nurse's duties and rewards. It is given more weight than the kinds of contracts which can sometimes be modified by reference to verbal exceptions, in part because the parties involved can be at a great distance from each other at the time of a dispute.

The contract is a document that every Travel Nurse should read carefully before signing, to make sure that everything verbally agreed to in conversations between the Travel Nurse and the recruiter is included, and that anything else that might have been included in the contract without preliminary verbal mention is not objectionable. For example, if there are supposed to be special requirements, such as a prohibition against weekend work or excessive floating, they should be spelled out in the contract.

Read it carefully. Then read it again. Ask for clarification about anything of which you are unsure.

The contract will contain sections on the nature of the Travel Nurse's professional responsibility, and what offences will result in premature termination. It will list the standards to be followed, such as those set up by JCAHO (the Joint Commission Accreditation of Hospitals Organization), and there may be a reference to the means for settling any dispute. This section is usually familiar material, with references to such matters as keeping up licenses during the employment term (and a statement of how much of the fees for this will be reimbursed, and how), but it still must be carefully read.

The employment terms are spelled out: the length of time covered by the contract is stipulated, the number of hours the Travel Nurse will be assigned, the rate of pay, the method and schedule of being paid, the exact nature of withholdings, the conditions for overtime, and any bonuses available, such as for 'contract completion.' Whether or not these bonuses will accelerate is stipulated. Rewards for extending the contract will also be stated here. Sometimes the initial orientation is described.

The conditions of doing the work will also be spelled out. Expectations, requirements, and exceptions will be set forth, and whether or not, and how often and for how long, the Travel Nurse will have to float from one department to another-and to which other departments-or be on call. Penalties for lateness, missed days, and other deviations will also be specified here.

The contract is also where the benefits will be listed. Whether or not travel costs will be reimbursed, and, if so, how, will be spelled out. Any 'per diems' will be listed. If there is a housing allowance, or if housing is being provided, will be specified, as well as the matter of utilities: water, garbage, electricity, telephone, internet, maid service, and cable. Some of these bills may not come to the Travel Nurse, but be paid directly by the employer; others may have associated means for reimbursement, which will be specified here. The kind of insurance given the Travel Nurse, both liability and health, the period of coverage, and the portion of the cost the Travel Nurse will have to pay, will appear in the contract.

No matter how carefully the contract has been negotiated, it must be studied with focused concentration to make sure all the required points have been included. A Travel Nurse should know exactly what the contract says, in case suggestions are made or orders given that run counter to its provisions. Some Travel Nurses even feel it is important to have a copy of the contract with them at all times; sometimes it must be defended to keep its advantages current.

Above all, if the contract is not satisfactory, it should not be signed. Accepting an assignment is like walking down the aisle: if you have your doubts, it's better to clear them up immediately than to find yourself trapped in an uncomfortable situation.

Remember, for a Travel Nurse, there's always another waiting job.


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