nurse in green scrubs clutching folder to chest

Travel Nursing Cancellations Part One

It seemed like a good travel nursing assignment, but then you get cold feet or an even better location came along from another travel company. 

What happens if you cancel that first travel nurse assignment? 

“Travel nurses cancel more frequently than the facility cancels,” said Cara Goodger, senior recruiter at AMN Healthcare. “We ask them to go away from home, pack up and leave. Some people get spooked. We understand that.”

3 Common Reasons Travel Nurses Cancel Assignments

1. Fears About Care or Safety

Goodger reminds travel nurses that AMN Healthcare has a clinical team to back them up if there are concerns about care or nurse-to-patient ratios. 

Sometimes, it’s a travel nursing housing issue. The travel nurse might decide to take the housing stipend and then cannot find something within his or her budget in a safe area of town. 

“I always recommend going with our free housing,” Goodger said. “Our priority is safety.”

Apply Now

The nurse still receives a per diem, in addition to their travel nursing salary.

Rarely will a traveler cancel an assignment in a less-desirable location, if a better position comes along. 

“A good recruiter will send out five to eight locations and try to get multiple locations at once,” Goodger explained. The nurse can then decide if, for instance, a smaller facility with lower nurse-patient ratios sounds more attractive than a big hospital with a better pay rate or vice versa. 

The verbal contracts include a clause asking the traveler to decline any additional requests for interviews after committing to an assignment. 

2. Travel Nursing Salary Concerns

Travel nursing salary disputes also can lead to cancellations, if the nurse on second thought thinks he or she is not getting enough compensation. 

Travelers often think the recruiter makes more money if the recruiter secures a nurse for the assignment at a lower rate. That is not true. 

“It’s in my interest to give them the best pay package,” Goodger said. 

Travel nurses often work for more than one company. 

If they tell an AMN Healthcare recruiter they received a contract from another agency with better pay, Goodger asks them to send it over. 

“We will match it or do better,” Goodger said.

3. Unexpected Injury and Illness

Accidents happen. If a nurse cancels due to an unforeseen illness or injury or family problem, the recruiter will consider the situation. The company will ask for documentation. 

Once the reason has been verified, AMN Healthcare will notify the hospital, which might be willing to postpone the start date or cancel. 

Then the hospital will have to interview candidates again. Typically, the second-choice candidate will not be available.

“This industry moves quickly, and that person probably is in another position,” Goodger said. 

What Happens at the Hospital and to Patients?

As soon as the traveler accepts an assignment, AMN Healthcare notifies the facility, the nurse is added to the schedule and credentialing begins. 

A cancellation puts the hospital in a bind. Personnel at the facility have to cover those shifts either through overtime of staff or contingency RNs or the unit works short. 

“It has a ripple effect and it can affect patient care,” Goodger said. “Nurses have a strong bond with each other. When they cancel, they are affecting other nurses. The nurses have to take on more patients, and patient care starts to go down. It’s less time you can spend with patients.”

AMN Healthcare will pay the traveler overtime.  

“They can work as much overtime as they want,” Goodger said. “We also have an additional hours bonus that works off of minimum required hours, not 40 per week, paid in addition to the overtime rate.”

What Happens to the Canceling Traveler? 

Recruiters develop a relationship with the travelers they work with. 

“You feel like you are looking out for each other and cancels are difficult,” Goodger said. 

The hospital or health care system also might blacklist the nurse who has canceled in the past. The account manager might not want to submit a candidate who has a track record of cancelling. 

AMN Healthcare does not ask the traveler to pay back money the company has paid for credentialing, however, it can charge for the lost money for housing. 

“We always look out for their best interest,” Goodger said. “We are not trying to make things worse.”

Search All Nursing Jobs

Additional Nursing Resources:

Latest Blogs

Take the first step to starting your new career.

Authorized to work in the US? *
Job Type Interest *
Have you been on an Interim engagement with AMN before? *
Are you currently employed or on an active Interim engagement? *

How much notice would you have to give? *

What date are you available to start an Interim engagement? *

* Indicates Required Fields


I agree to receive emails, automated text messages and phone calls (including calls that contain prerecorded content) from and on behalf of AMN Healthcare, and affiliates. {{show_more}} I understand these messages will be to the email or phone number provided, and will be about employment opportunities, positions in which I’ve been placed, and my employment with AMN companies. See privacy policy or cookie policy for more details.

Complete Your Application!
AMN Healthcare NurseFinders logo
Continue to NurseFinders to complete your application and profile.