Kyle Leffel
Kyle Leffel
January 6, 2017 - 4 min read

When Travel Nursing Goes Bad – And How To Fix It

Travel nursing is a fun and exciting adventure! It’s the best time I’ve ever experienced during my nursing career. But what happens when something goes wrong? What happens when the adventure turns south…really quick?

In this article I will discuss some typical issues you may come across in travel nursing and how to fix them.

Start your travel nursing adventure here!

Pets And Housing

My number one rule when traveling has always been: be prepared, do your homework, and plan ahead. If you simply do this, you will eliminate 99% of all the bad things that could happen to you.

But let’s say you didn’t do your research and you signed up with the first travel company you could find. You were so excited that you signed the first contract they put in front of you, and rushed off to your first travel assignment. Upon your arrival, you discover that your housing location won’t allow your best friend, your dog, to stay with you. You may have also failed to recognize the travel time between your housing and your work location making your drive to work over 45 minutes everyday.

Honestly, housing issues are a very typical mistake with first time travelers and it’s usually a quick fix. Simply partner up with your travel company and see if they can help you out. A good travel nursing company will do everything they can to find you new housing, or work with the apartment complex to accommodate you. You should always have a say in where and how the travel company accommodates you, in respects to housing.

Always Read The Contract

Always, always read your travel contract before you sign it. This point can’t be stressed enough. You would think that this is a no-brainer when it comes to travel nursing, but all too often, nurses forget to read the fine print and their travel nursing dream becomes a nightmare. Remember, if you signed it, you are bound to it.

Some nurses get so focused on the destination or the pay, they forget to make sure key details are in their contract. I remember talking to a new travel nurse who was assigned to work in a different unit than what was promised to her. She was working in a float role rather than her desired unit of choice. I told her to read what her contract said. Sure enough, when she went back and looked at the contract, it stated that she signed up for a floating role with different hours than what she wanted. This happens sometimes and unfortunately there is not much you can do about it when it’s that late in the game.

In this situation, you can reach out to your travel company and explain that this is not what was discussed, and they can contact the hospital and see if they can work something out.

Travel nursing is supposed to be a “win” for everybody, but sometimes key details about the location and assignment don’t get mentioned. That’s why it’s important to make sure your needs and wants are in the contract, including the unit you will be working on and the guaranteed shift times/hours.

Speak to a staffing agent about new travel assignments today.

Low Census

Yes, even in travel nursing you can get sent home due to low census. The difference between travel nursing and a regular job back at home is accumulating PTO. Some travel nursing companies offer PTO while others might not.

Travel nurses are usually the first to get sent home without pay or floated to other units because of low census, which can be extremely frustrating. As a travel nurse, you are a temporary worker and they would rather send you home or float, before doing that to one of their regular employees.

One way to combat this is to have certain circumstances in your contract. In my contracts, I have a maximum number of low census times allowed per month. If the hospital exceeds the certain number of times they send me home due to low census, I still get paid. It’s a nice thing to have in your contract because it guarantees your hours and pay. It was actually pretty nice to get sent home and still get paid for a full day’s work.

Make Your Own Winning Assignment

When it comes to travel nursing, 99% of the time, it will be an enjoyable experience. That is, if you take your time and pick the best travel nursing company for you, be prepared for anything, do your homework, and plan ahead. If not, there is a good chance you will become a perfect example for my next travel nursing horror story article.

Start your travel nursing adventure here!

By Kyle Leffel, RN

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Kyle Leffel has spent much of his travel nursing career by working up and down the west coast. He has spent the majority of his nursing career in cardiac critical/progressive care.  Kyle Is currently working in his home state of Indianapolis, IN as a medical administrator with Medcor. When Kyle is not working, he is enjoying the trails and wilderness by backpacking and kayaking with his friends and family. You can follow Kyle on LinkedIn.



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