Depending on the healthcare facility and demand, travel nurse assignments usually last about 13 weeks. More recently, however, some travel nurse contracts are as little as four to six weeks. Shorter contracts, along with the increasing demands in the travel nursing job market, are leading to travel nursing contract extensions. Thus, many healthcare facilities and travel nurse agencies are opting for travel nursing contract extensions in place of finding new travel nurses due to costs. Below, we review what to know about your travel nurse contract and the benefits of extending your travel nurse contract.
What to Know About Your Travel Nurse Contract
As mentioned, travel nurse assignments usually last about 13 weeks. Due to the high demand in the travel nursing job market, many healthcare facilities and travel nurse agencies are extending travel nurse contracts. There are a few items you should know about your travel nurse contract before deciding to extend it.
First, review the details of your current travel nurse contract. Take note of your current travel nursing pay, stipend amounts, bonuses, and terms. Travel nursing companies often negotiate a higher pay package when extending travel nurse contracts. This is because it costs the healthcare facility less money to extend a current contract than to recruit a new travel nurse altogether. It also saves the travel nurse agency the time and effort of finding a new travel nurse with the same skill set and experience.
Also, keep in mind the amount of time you've been at your current travel nurse assignment and location. With the one-year limit rule, travel nurses cannot work with a healthcare facility or location for over a year. If you work in one location over a year, then the IRS considers these assignments as permanent healthcare career opportunities and not temporary.
Look at the terms of your contract. Does it outline any details about contract extensions? Sometimes your contract may detail the contract extension deadline and negotiations. Also, if you like your current assignment and think that you may want to extend your contract, talk to your recruiter immediately. Contract extensions take planning, so the sooner you talk to your recruiter, the better. You wouldn't want to miss out!
Should You Consider Extending Your Contract?
There are several factors to consider before deciding to extend your travel nurse assignment. First, have you worked at your current location or healthcare facility for almost a year? If so, you might not be eligible for a travel nursing contract extension due to the one-year limit rule. Even if you're at a different healthcare facility, but in the same location, you're subject to the one-year limit rule.
Ask yourself if you like the unit you work on. If you like the unit, staffing ratios are safe and you feel like you would enjoy extending your assignment, then take this into strong consideration. Next, ask yourself if you like the nurses and team you work with. Do you feel supported and like there is teamwork? If so, then take this into consideration.
Also, ask yourself if you like the location or area you're in. Have you explored everything you've wanted to in the area? Do you have many friends and a large social circle? These are important aspects to consider. If you feel like you haven't explored everything, then maybe it's not time to leave quite yet. Some travel nurses ultimately decide they really like where they are and start looking for more permanent healthcare career opportunities.
Also, it's important to take into account your travel nurse housing and if you can extend where you currently reside. Sometimes you may be unable to extend your lease. It may be more of a nightmare to find new travel nurse housing than move to another assignment altogether.
When extending your current travel nurse contract, many travel nurse agencies can negotiate a higher travel nursing pay rate and pay package. When speaking with your recruiter, ask them if this is an option.
Weigh the pros and cons of staying at your current healthcare facility and travel assignment. Decide what matters most to you. It could be the friends you've made or the nurses you work with. Once you've weighed your options, discuss the next steps with your travel nurse recruiter.
11 Benefits to Extending Your Contract
There are several benefits of travel nursing contract extensions. Let's review these below.
- You don't have to reapply. Travel nursing companies typically don't require you to reapply for your current position. They usually contract your current healthcare facility and negotiate a contract extension. This is to your benefit because you move to the front of the like of other travel nursing contracts.
- Already familiar with the healthcare facility. Another great benefit is that you will be familiar with the healthcare facility's protocols, procedures, and charting system. You won't have to quickly learn a new charting system or memorize new physician names (or at least for a few more weeks!).
- Already know your coworkers. Instead of moving to a new assignment, you'll already know your coworkers and how they operate. Maybe the unit you work on has great teamwork, which can be hard to find. Or you may have met some great friends in your unit or healthcare facility.
- No repeating credentialing. Since you're extending your contact, many travel nursing companies don't require re-credentialing. You won't have to repeat the licensing, immunizations, or drug screening process (unless something is expired or the healthcare facility re-requires it).
- No packing up and moving! Check with your current housing and see if you can extend your lease and stay. If you can, you won't have to pack up everything and move (or at least for a few more weeks).
- Ask for a better schedule. If you don't like your schedule at your current assignment, ask for a different one. For example, if you're working on the night shift and want to work the day shift instead, ask your recruiter if it's an option to switch. Or if you like working several days in a row, ask your recruiter if they can negotiate this too. It's important to remember that while you can ask, there may be limitations depending on availability and unit needs.
- Extensions are more flexible with dates. Many initial travel nursing contracts require that you work for a set number of weeks. However, with travel nurse contract extensions, you can extend for as little as two weeks. If you're having trouble finding your next assignment and don't want to take time off in between, then consider a short extension. You'll need to speak with your recruiter several weeks before your current contract ends.
- Already have friends. If you've been on your current travel assignment for a few weeks, you've probably already met several friends. By staying at your current assignment or location, you'll already have friends and not have to worry about meeting new ones.
- More time to explore the area. Maybe you haven't had the opportunity to see the nearby national park or visit a museum. Extending your contract gives you more time to explore the area and its surroundings.
- Negotiate a higher pay package. While many travel nursing contracts offer high pay rates, contract extensions allow you and your recruiter to renegotiate. Your recruiter can advocate for higher pay or stipend amounts. This might not always be an option, but don't be afraid to ask!
- Benefits the healthcare facility. The costs and time associated with finding a new travel nurse are high. Thus, to reduce costs and save time, many hospitals opt to extend current contracts. It saves the hospital and travel nurse agency time and effort.
Before extending your travel contract, it's essential to consider many factors listed above. Make a list of the pros and cons of extending your assignment. Review the many benefits of extending your assignment versus finding a new assignment. If the pros outweigh the cons, talk to your recruiter about potentially extending your contract. However, you'll need to plan and decide several weeks before your current contract ends.
Ready to explore Health Carousel Travel Nursing or review more travel nursing job tips? Visit Health Carousel Travel Nursing here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I extend my travel nurse contract?
If you enjoy your current travel nurse assignment, then consider extending your travel nurse contract. If you're having trouble deciding, list the pros and cons of your current travel nurse assignment. Some pros are that you won't have to move in a few weeks, you already know the staff, and typically you can negotiate a higher travel nursing pay. Once you've made your list, weigh the pros and cons to help you decide.
How long can you extend a travel nurse contract?
Travel nursing contract extensions are limited by the one-year limit rule. The one-year limit rule was created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and it states that you may not extend your contract past the one-year mark. So you can keep extending your travel nurse contract, but not past one year. After this, you will need to move locations and accept another assignment.
How to negotiate a travel nurse contract extension?
If you're thinking of extending your travel nurse contract, talk to the unit nurse manager and your recruiter about your options. Depending on the healthcare facility and current demands, your recruiter may be able to negotiate a travel nursing contract extension. Travel nursing contract extensions often offer higher travel nursing pay, bonuses, and stipends. So don't be afraid to ask your recruiter about a higher compensation package. Remember, it costs the healthcare facility and travel nurse agency more time and money to recruit and onboard another travel nurse.
How do I ask for a travel nurse extension?
Several weeks before your travel nurse contract ends, approach the unit nurse manager and your recruiter. See if the unit nurse manager needs more help in the weeks after your contract ends, even if it's for a short period (like three to four weeks). Also, speak to your recruiter about your interest in extending your travel nurse assignment. Your recruiter is the liaison between you and the healthcare facility, so they will be able to negotiate on your behalf.
Learn More about Health Carousel
Want to learn more about what Health Carousel Travel Nursing has to offer? View our job board or visit our travel nursing blog for more travel nursing job tips. Join On Demand, to take control of your career and apply to our many travel nursing jobs nationwide.
With the many benefits that Health Carousel Travel Nursing has to offer, it's no wonder travel nurses choose us. Interested in learning more about making your benefits work for you? Visit our Full Circle of Support, where we educate travel nurses to utilize our many resources to further their careers.