Andrew Wettengel / Wednesday, July 28, 2021 / Categories: Education and Communication, Work World


Travel nurses are contracted employees. With each new assignment, you will be asked to sign a new contract with different stipulations. These contracts can be long, complicated documents. Being knowledgeable of your contract and the terms that you can negotiate can affect where you go and how much money you make as a nurse.

At OneStaff Medical, we want you to be aware of what travel nursing contracts entail so that you can get the most benefits from your travel nursing position. Here are some tips for what your travel nursing contract should include and how you can negotiate specific terms with your travel nursing agency.

What Are Travel Nursing Contracts?

Travel nursing agencies hold contracts both privately and with larger healthcare facilities like hospitals through vendor sourcing managers. Agencies negotiate terms for their travel nursing positions, including how many nursing personnel to hire, and what base salary should look like for travel nurses.

The travel nursing agencies will also hold contracts with you. Travel nursing contracts are an important part of the agreement made between you and your travel nursing agency. These contracts list the agreed-upon wages, benefits, and reimbursements you will receive as a travel nurse.

There are different types of travel nursing contracts, depending on the type of nurse you are and your travel nursing assignment. Your contract may be for a standard nursing position, or it may be for a crisis scenario, which occurs when the need for nurses is critical and immediate.

Keep in mind that your contract can also vary depending on the agency you work with, the facility you are looking at and the travel nursing assignment, so it’s crucial to examine the contract carefully. You want to make sure your specific expectations are met correctly. If you take anything valuable away from reading this, hopefully it’s that we always recommend negotiating before being submitted for a position and interviewing. Be upfront with your recruiter on what you want, and let them help you find that position whether it’s the current option, or another. It’ll save you, the facility and the agency time, and headaches of being declined. Smarter, not harder ;)

Top 3 Things Your Travel Nursing Contract Should Cover

A lot goes into a travel nursing contract, and the legal jargon can get confusing if you’re not sure what to expect. Here are some key elements that your contract should include.

1. Travel Reimbursement/ Stipends

As a traveling nurse, you will incur travel expenses. Travel reimbursement can happen differently depending on the agency, and there should be a clear explanation of how this happens in your travel nursing contract. Most agencies prefer you travel with a reliable car, so the facility has peace of mind you will be able to get to each shift.

Some agencies require you to pay out-of-pocket for the initial expenses, and then they reimburse you later. Some agencies will split your travel reimbursement by paying you half on your first paycheck and the other half on the last paycheck of your assignment.

You may also be paid a stipend, which is a set amount for travel every pay period, which is a tax-free amount that is paid out on each of your paychecks over the course of the assignment.

In your travel contract, make sure you understand what stipend amount you will receive and all terms of your contract that will be paid for you.

2. Housing

Travel nursing contracts will lay out your housing options and how it will be paid for. If the agency doesn’t directly pay for your housing, then the contract should detail how you will be reimbursed for the expense.

Your housing may be arranged differently depending on what agency you work with. Some agencies arrange your housing in advance in a designated housing site for traveling nurses. Others may not find you a place to live, but rather give you a monthly lodging stipend.

Ultimately, your travel nursing contract needs to list what the agency is offering you and what you will be responsible for. It should also outline what happens to your housing should your nursing assignment get canceled or extended.

3. Health Insurance

Full-time hospital staff is guaranteed full coverage when it comes to health insurance. As a traveling nurse, you will want to make sure you know the terms of your health coverage to fully understand what all it includes.

Traveling nurses usually receive health insurance through their staffing agency. Some travelers prefer to have their own vs. depending on the agency they are currently on assignment with. Nurses are at a higher risk for illness due to the nature of the job, so you want to make sure your contract shows that you are receiving affordable, high-quality insurance.

Here at OneStaff, we offer multiple plans to fit your specific needs, like PPO and High Deductible. Our coverage always begins the first day of the month following your start date. This seems typical, but be sure you check when coverage starts with any agency you take assignment with, as it may/ can vary, and you don’t want to be caught off guard.

OneStaff Medical’s Tips for Negotiating Travel Nursing Contracts

As a travel nursing agency, we have a lot of experience with travel nursing contracts. Here are a few of our favorite travel nursing contract negotiation tips!

Communicate upfront

Again, communicate your wants/needs and do all of the negotiating upfront (prior to having your recruiter submit you to a job) and prior to interviews. It will avoid being declined and keep things moving quickly. This is the biggest takeaway here. Trust us.

Read the Contract Terms Carefully

Like any contract, travel nursing contracts are legally binding documents. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that you’re reading all the terms of your contract carefully before signing anything.

You can potentially run into more problems down the road if you aren’t aware of all the nuances, so it’s important to review as closely as possible. If something is in the contract that you don’t understand, reach out to your agency to see if they can explain it in more detail.

Ultimately, you don’t want to be caught unaware later on if you miss something in your contract initially. Review all clauses of your nursing contract carefully and ask for help or advice when needed.

Always Discuss

Don’t be afraid to thoroughly discuss the terms of your contract, including salary, benefits, or any other expenditures that would require reimbursement. Don’t assume every agency handles those variables the same, and trust in your recruiter to explain the nuances.

As an agency, we always try to offer the best pay rate upfront. Placing travelers is a win for us. Potential pay rates for travel nursing positions can vary drastically though. Your nursing contract will also include clauses about guaranteed hours, cancellation policies, time-off, and what happens should you miss a shift; many of which are dictated by the hiring facility. These are all factors to discuss with your agency through each step of the process; from initial introduction conversations on wants/needs, to the contract signing.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

Trust your gut. If you feel like something isn’t right, it’s okay to say no. You may feel that the terms of the contract are unfair or that you won’t be receiving the proper benefits and reimbursement if you sign it. Talk through those concerns with your recruiter, first and foremost. Be realistic. Communicate. Your recruiters wants you to find the best job (for you) too, as it strengthens your partnership and trust in them. Believe in that partnership between recruiter and traveler and let the process work.

These are all things to discuss with your agency. Some of the terms could be dictated by that facility, maybe that facility isn’t for you and we can certainly go above and beyond to help you find an assignment at another one, in the same/ similar location, that would be a better fit. That’s what we do. Find the right fit, for every traveler. And the right traveler, for every facility.

Travel nursing is an exciting opportunity, and the right contract can offer many benefits for you. It’s important to understand what should be in your travel nursing contract, as well as things to look out for.

If you’re interested in becoming a traveling nurse or tech and/or seeking out a new contract, OneStaff Medical is here for you. We offer resources with any information you might need, and we have a range of positions open all across the country. To learn more about us, contact us today at 877-783-1483 or browse our current jobs here.

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