The Travel Nurse Schedule

The Travel Nurse Schedule

The Travel Nurse schedule is one of the best out there, but there are things you should know. There are lots of great reasons to get into travel nursing – the flexibility, the adventure, the ability to travel to places you’ve only dreamed about. But what happens when you get to your assignment? How will your schedule work? These are some great things to think about before and during your next travel nursing assignment. 

Check the Contract for Your Travel Nurse Schedule

Almost every aspect of your travel nurse schedule comes down to what’s in your contract. Have general scheduling questions? Take a look at the travel nurse contract. These contracts typically will include the work schedule terms such as shift, shift length, assignment duration, and includes any time-off that has been mutually agreed upon by you and the healthcare facility.

Your Main Job is to Show Up

As a contract worker, your travel nurse schedule might be viewed a bit differently than those of permanent staff members at the same healthcare facility.

Why is this the case?

While you love being a travel nurse because of the ability to travel, go on new adventures and get paid well it’s easy to forget the true reason you are there: to work. Most healthcare settings hire travel nurses to support an already-stretched-thin permanent workforce. Travelers are brought on to help a team during a particularly busy season, or to provide backup during large staff events like trainings, or for extra support when they need it. That means that your main job is to show up when you are scheduled.

As a traveler, your ability to switch shifts or take days off frequently are extremely limited. Before you sign on the dotted line, just make sure you know what the schedule expectations are for any travel assignment. 

Overtime and Giving Up Shifts During Travel Nurse Scheduling

When you start working with a recruiter, they will be able to answer most of your questions about scheduling. You’ll want to ask questions about topics like overtime pay and compensation for shifts where you’re scheduled but not needed. When it comes to the ability to earn overtime, being a traveling nurse makes it that much sweeter. Not only are you most likely earning more than your permanent staff counterparts, your overtime pay will be that much higher. The ability to earn overtime is a great part about being a traveler.

On the other hand, sometimes you are scheduled for a shift and when the time comes for one reason or another you are not needed or you volunteer to give up a shift. This doesn’t happen often, but if it does you’ll want to know what that means for your hours and your paycheck. 

Planning Ahead: The Travel Nurse Schedule From Beginning to End of a Contract 

Signing a travel nurse contract is making a serious commitment – like we said before, your number one job is to show up when you are needed for as long as you are needed. The “when” and “how long” will be determined by your initial contract. You’ll want to take a look at your personal calendar and make sure you’re willing and able to make the commitment, knowing that taking time off is not a guarantee on a travel nurse assignment. 

Of course life happens. There are special occasions and circumstances that will happen during your time on assignment. The key is to let your recruiter know before you sign the contract. AKA if you know you’re at your cousin’s wedding during your travel nurse contract, make sure it’s known to the recruiter so that it can be negotiated into the contract before you sign. This makes things much easier and much less stressful for both parties down the line.

You should also expect the permanent staff to get preference on holidays off. If there is a day that you can’t work, be up front and be willing to compromise when necessary. 

Getting “Canceled” as a Travel Nurse

It happens. Sometimes for one reason or another a contract will end unexpectedly. Sometimes it is because the facilities’ needs changed and sometimes it is performance related. Before an offer is made to a travel nurse, most agencies will thoroughly screen a candidate. This means checking all your certifications, references, and vetting you as a professional. This is all done so that a performance-based cancellation is avoided. If the hospital’s needs change and your contract is canceled, well, that’s the life of a travel nurse. However, if you wind up on an assignment you don’t love, try to stick it out as a commitment. The bright side? You’re a travel nurse. It’s only 12 weeks – you can handle it and know what to look for in your next assignment.