Travel Nurse Contracts: Your Ultimate Guide

Jun 26, 2024

You’ve landed a travel nurse position, ready to embark on an adventure filled with professional growth and exciting new destinations. But before you pack your bags and set sail, there’s one crucial element to ensure a smooth journey: the travel nurse contract.

Think of your travel nurse contracts as the detailed roadmap for your assignment. It outlines the terms of your employment, clarifies expectations, and safeguards both you and the healthcare facility. This guide is your essential compass, demystifying the legalese and empowering you to navigate travel nurse contracts with confidence.

Let’s Talk Contract Lingo

  • Start and End Dates: This defines the exact duration of your assignment, ensuring that you and the healthcare facility have clear expectations.
  • Pay and Compensation: This section details your base salary, housing stipends (if applicable), and any benefits packages offered by the facility or your travel nurse agency.
  • License and Credentials: This is where the contract will specify which licenses and certifications you have to hold to fill the position and meet all state requirements.
  • Job Duties and Responsibilities: Outlines your specific role within the healthcare facility. This helps you better understand your day-to-day tasks.
  • Benefits and Reimbursements: This might include health insurance, travel allowances for relocation, and even continuing education reimbursement programs.
  • Termination Clauses: These clauses outline the process for ending the contract early, for you or the facility. Understanding these provisions protects your rights and provides a clear exit strategy if necessary.

Some contracts include some less common clauses like:

  • Guaranteed Hours: Some contracts offer a minimum amount of hours to help provide more financial security.
  • Non-compete: Non-compete clauses restrict your ability to work for competing healthcare organizations. These clauses were recently banned in the United States because they tend to keep wages low and don’t allow enough competition.
  • Professional Liability insurance: This clarifies if the nurse or facility will be responsible for holding liability insurance.
  • Meal and Laundry Stipends:  Some contracts may offer additional financial compensation to help offset the extra costs associated with traveling.
  • Continued Education Reimbursement:  Facilities that prioritize professional development might offer financial assistance to help you attend conferences or pursue relevant certifications.
A travel nurse reviewing different travel nurse contracts

Read the Entire Contract

This may come as a no-brainer to most people, but understanding what you are signing up for is extremely important.

We equipped you with the basics of a travel nurse contract, but some can be more confusing than others. Read every word of the contract and highlight anything that stands out to you or things you want to clarify with your recruiter later.

Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question, especially when it is legally binding. 

Once you know you have a good understanding of the contract, it’s time to sign on the dotted line. Make sure you have copies of everything you signed. Having a digital copy or a physical document allows you to reference the agreement throughout your assignment.

How long are travel nurse contracts?

The most common travel nurse contracts are 13 weeks long. This gives plenty of time for you to adjust to a new facility. However, some contracts can be as short as 6 weeks or as long as 26 weeks. Let’s break down some of the benefits of each. 

  • Longer travel nurse contracts offer more stability. Nurses prefer longer assignments because it reduces their need to turn and burn, and lets them spend less time looking for their next contract.
  • Shorter contracts are great for nurses who want to travel as much as possible.  

Keep in mind that it isn’t rare for travel nurses to take a break between contracts. Some nurses partner with per diem (PRN) staffing agencies so they can work between assignments. This allows them to have an income while they look for a new contract.

Can Travel Nurses Cancel Contracts?

You can cancel a travel nurse contract, but there are some things you should consider:

  • You and the facility both have the right to cancel the contract. This will be explained in detail in the termination clause.
  • Valid reasons are key. There can be legitimate reasons for cancellations like serious illness, unsafe work environment, or anything that could jeopardize your license.
  • Keep in mind consequences exist, like financial penalties or being blacklisted by the agency or facility.

Can LPNs and CNAs Travel?

Yes! LPNs and CNAs can both travel. CNA contracts are a little harder to come by than RN and LPN contracts. Luckily we wrote this guide to help CNAs travel more.

With a thorough understanding of your travel nurse contract, you’re now well-equipped to embark on your exciting adventure. Remember, this document is your key to a smooth and successful assignment. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification from your recruiter. With a clear roadmap in hand, you can focus on providing excellent patient care while exploring new destinations and propelling your professional growth.

Average Travel Nurse Salary By State

StateAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
New Hampshire$107,568$8,964$2,068$51.72
New Jersey$105,937$8,828$2,037$50.93
New Mexico$99,875$8,322$1,920$48.02
New York$120,132$10,011$2,310$57.76
North Carolina$85,555$7,129$1,645$41.13
North Dakota$102,597$8,549$1,973$49.33
Rhode Island$95,205$7,933$1,830$45.77
South Carolina$87,358$7,279$1,679$42.00
South Dakota$96,965$8,080$1,864$46.62
West Virginia$84,957$7,079$1,633$40.84
Source: ZipRecruiter

What we do

Allied Healthcare & Nurse Staffing Services

Founded in 1988, Cascade Health Services is a leading healthcare and nurse staffing agency in the United States. More than 2,500 nurses, nurse aides and allied health professionals work with Cascade across the nation. We are hiring RN, LPN, LVN, CNA, CMA, CMT and other healthcare professionals for immediate Travel, Contract and PRN jobs in Nursing Homes, Long Term Care Centers, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living, Rehabilitation Centers and Hospitals.