Choosing Your Assignment Length
Q: I am interested in travel nursing. How long do assignments typically last? What if I work at a hospital that I really enjoy, do I have to leave after my assignment is over, or can I take another assignment at the same hospital?
There used to be a standard answer to this question. As the profession grows and demands change, we are seeing more and more variations in the length of contracts. Some nurses like the stability of a long assignment, while others like the fast pace of shorter assignments.
Travel nursing started as a profession to meet hospital seasonal shortages. Now, with the ongoing need for travelers year around, we are seeing changes. The standard contract is still 13 weeks. However, more and more companies are flexible assignment lengths, ranging from 8 weeks to 6 month assignments or longer. From what I understand, American Mobile Healthcare and a few other companies are starting to offer these alternative contracts.
With the continual nursing shortage, nurses are finding it easier and easier to extend. Also, more companies are providing completion bonuses and sometimes extension upgrades. You can find a hospital with an ongoing need and keep extending at the end of your contract. I have met travelers that have worked at one hospital for a couple of years. However, it makes sense for you to change locations once a year in order for you to keep benefiting tax wise. Once you stay somewhere a year or more, Uncle Sam doesn’t want to see you as a temporary employee working away from home. Don’t worry, you can always return to the hospital on a future assignment, if you really liked it.
If you plan it right, you can have as much stability as you want. The options are limitless. You have so many choices. The feeling of independence and control over your life as a traveler is fabulous. Enjoy!