How to Extend Your Travel Nurse Assignment

One of the best parts about travel nursing is the chance to temporarily live and work in a new location, with your housing and travel expenses covered and plenty of time to explore.

This career option also allows you to choose when and where you work, with contract terms that can range from four weeks for a crisis assignment up to 13 weeks for a more typical travel nurse assignment. But what happens at the end of that assignment period?

Nurses can choose to move on to another location, or their assignment facility may ask the traveler to extend their contract and stay a while longer. Usually, organizations will broach the subject about halfway through an initial assignment, but that timeline can vary.

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In fact, extending a travel nurse assignment is very common, reports Michele S., a recruitment and placement specialist with AMN Healthcare, adding that extensions are a “win–win” situation for all parties. Many nurses like the chance to stay put a little longer—to work in a place where they’ve gotten to know the people, the culture and the electronic health record system. They also don’t have to worry about going through the credentialing process again, or relocating. At the same time, the facility managers don’t have to worry about finding, onboarding and training a new travel nurse.

If you’re interested in extending a travel nurse assignment, either now or in the future, here’s what you need to know.

How to Land a Travel Nurse Contract Extension

According to Michele, site managers will often initiate the extension process, but the nurse traveler can initiate the process, too. She offers the following tips to boost your chances of landing a travel nurse contract extension:

  1. Be the best nurse you can be. You definitely want to create a good impression at work. Give the managers and staff multiple reasons to want you to extend with them. Be reliable. Use good clinical judgment. Make the effort to get to know your new colleagues, and to get along with everyone.
  2. Consider extending as early as possible. If you think that you might be interested in staying at your current assignment a while longer, start planning as soon as possible. Know what you want to do and be ready to discuss how to make it work.
  3. Talk to your recruiter. Once you’ve decided you would like to extend your travel nurse assignment, talk to your recruiter right away. Your recruiter will know if your facility tends to offer extension opportunities, so they can give you a better understanding of the likelihood. They can also initiate contact with the organization to discuss options, and can get the paperwork started if an offer is made. Your recruiter can also discuss other options with you, just in case the extension doesn’t work out.
  4. Feel out your manager. “If you have a good relationship with your manager, talk to them and put the idea in their ear,” suggests Michele. This can get the ball rolling, and you will be at the top of their mind if they decide they need a travel nurse for an additional period.

3 Things to Consider When Planning a Contract Extension

If you and the staffing manager at your assignment facility are both interested in a travel nurse contract extension, there are still some things to consider before you sign on the dotted line:

  1. Time off. Many nurses prefer to take some time off in between travel nursing assignments. Scheduling a vacation, especially a longer vacation, can be a little trickier if you’re planning to extend your travel nurse contract and remain with the same healthcare facility. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on the idea. Instead, Michele strongly suggests speaking up and making arrangements for vacation or time off as soon as you possibly can. She encourages nurses to be up front and address the issue before agreeing to an extension. Nurses should also clarify with their recruiter if all of their traveler benefits will remain in effect if they are taking a break from a regular work schedule.
  2. You’ll also want to verify the availability of your travel nurse housing when planning an assignment extension. If you arranged your own housing, check to make sure it’s available during the period of the extension. Otherwise, talk to your recruiter or the agency’s housing staff as soon as possible about making arrangements for you to stay in your company-arranged housing.
  3. The fine print. Finally, be sure to read your contract extension offer carefully and pay attention to all the details. Sometimes the details can change from an original contract to an extension contract. If you have any questions, ask your recruiter.

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