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Six Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Next Travel Nurse Assignment

Whether you're an experienced travel nurse or are just starting out, you should understand the benefits and expectations of an assignment before signing a contract. Here are six questions to ask your recruiter before starting your next travel nurse assignment.

1. What Will Be Expected Of Me On The Job?

You should always know what you're getting into, and understanding your job expectations in any new position is paramount. Although travel nurses should stay flexible and be prepared to help out wherever needed, it can be useful to have a basic idea of your job responsibilities.
Be sure to find out if travel nurses at your new facility are expected to float. Nursing2020 notes that many facilities use floating, a cost-effective resource-sharing technique, to balance out staffing shortages, which can be stressful for travel nurses and potentially dangerous for patients.

2. Are My Assignment, Pay Rate, And Work Hours Guaranteed In Writing?

There are few things worse than preparing to embark on a travel nurse assignment only to have it canceled at the last minute or to reach your first payday and find your check smaller than expected because of budget cuts. That's why it's so important to make sure your assignment, pay rate, and minimum number of work hours are guaranteed in writing.

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Even if your recruiter or staffing specialist assures you that all of the above are guaranteed, insist on seeing it in writing before signing your contract.

3. What Benefits Are Included With The Position And Who Provides Them?

Not all benefits packages are created equal, and available benefits may vary depending on your travel nurse agency and the facility you're contracting with. Potential benefits may include:

  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Complimentary housing or a housing allowance
  • 401(k)
  • Travel reimbursement
  • Guaranteed pay for canceled shifts
  • Continuing education opportunities or reimbursement
  • Discounts on consumer goods and services
  • Bonuses for sign-on, completion, extended stays, referrals, and hard-to-fill positions.
Because benefits may be provided by either your signing agency or the facility, it's important to know who is responsible for which benefits. Knowing this will give you a clear path to follow in case you experience a problem or need clarification.

4. Have You Placed Travel Nurses At This Facility Before?

It's always helpful to know whether your agency has worked with the facility before. If they've placed nurses or other healthcare professionals there on a regular basis, it's a good sign that the two organizations have a healthy working relationship.
Although a newer relationship between facility and agency isn't necessarily a red flag, it can mean you'll have less information going into the assignment and that your recruiter may require more lead time to get answers to any questions you might have.

5. Who Do I Call If There's A Problem?

Whether it's a scheduling issue, a conflict with a coworker, or a request to do something beyond your scope of experience, you should know who to call when there's a problem. That should include someone at the facility, such as a direct supervisor or HR contact, who can help resolve issues requiring immediate attention. It should also include a contact at your travel nurse agency who can resolve bigger-picture issues such as breaches of contract or ethical conflicts.

Many agencies offer around-the-clock clinical support for travel nurses on assignment. They may also have staffing specialists available after business hours to assist with assignment-related issues.

6. Is There Anything Important I Need To Know About This Assignment Or Facility?

This open-ended question is a great one to ask your recruiter, facility interviewers or contacts and any nurses you know who have experience with the facility because each party should have something different to say. Answers can give you potentially valuable insights and information about the facility and answer questions you may not have thought to ask. It can also alert you to potential red flags or prompt additional questions.

Other Questions To Ask

Although these six questions provide a great starting point for travel nurses to learn more about new assignments, it isn't an exhaustive list. Ultimately, the best questions are those you most want to be answered. If you want a more thorough picture of your next assignment, Nursing2020 offers a comprehensive list of questions for travel nurses to consider asking.

If you're ready to find your next assignment and hit the road, visit AMN Healthcare's job database to search for positions nationwide.

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