Travel Nursing Advice Column - Questions and Answers about Benefits

See questions and answers about travel nursing benefits, or ask your own.

Question

Are the nurses allowed to take vacation time or time off?

Response

If you mean do you get PTO from your travel nursing company to take while on assignment, then I would say that is not the most common benefits given, but if you look really hard you may find it.

However if you mean can you take time off in between assignments then the answer is yes. It is really only up to you and your finances regarding how long you want to take off.

The one caveat is that you donít want to take so much time off in between assignments that your nursing skills begin to get rusty. In fact most companies will require you to have recent experience, so taking something extreme, like a year off would not be a good idea.

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Question

Is it legal to charge a nurse for sick time and housing when out sick while working an assignment?

Response

This is multi-faceted. Basically, your agency makes money when you work and you make money when you work. But of course if you are not working then no money is made. Now some things, like housing and travel costs, are provided based on the assumption that you will be working a certain number of hours per week. So, some of those costs may not get recouped by agencies.

However, it would be legal, if all of those expectations and numbers are spelled out in your contract for that assignment. Which means that depending on the circumstance it may not be ethical, but may still be legal. This is why it is so important that you make sure to read every contract carefully and ask questions about anything sets off a red flag as you read it or anything you donít understand.

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Question

My plans are to begin travel nursing sometime in 2013, this will be a new adventure for myself and my husband who will be accompanying me. I have spoken to numerous travel nurses who work on the PCU unit at my current job who have reccommended using more then one travel company so I would have more opportuities. My question is, how would this work since I would need to have insurance coverage for both myself and my husband while traveling? Any help you can provide me would really be appreciated.Thanks! :o)

Response

Traveling with a few companies does have a few advantages including better access to more available assignments. Also, if you are traveling with a few companies, you are able to compare them to each other to weed out the ones that arenít treating your properly or not offering enough pay and benefits, etc. If you traveled with one company, you really wouldnít have anything to compare.

However, traveling with one company allows you to have consistent insurance (for you and your husband like you mentioned), establishing a better relationship with your recruiter (which can be highly advantageous), easier for filing taxes and youíll have consistent all around benefits. Now weighing what is more important to you is key. If you decide to travel with a few companies, your best option for insurance would be to get your own private plan. Mainly for hassle sakeÖ you definitely do not want to deal with changing your policy every 3 months with each new company. Hope this helps.

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Question


Do you know of any companies that will provide a rental car? I'm nervous about driving clear across the country by myself.

Response


Companies do not provide a rental car as a standard. However, you can negotiate for one. Often you can trade one benefit for another. Get creative....especially if they offer a benefit you don't need. Also, tell them that if they figure out how to provide a rental car for you.....you will travel with them. This will motivate them and believe me they have ways. This is a competitive business and they want you to work for them.

Note: If they give you a car allowance...make sure to call and find out what the car rentals in the area cost. One time a company provided a car for me in Alaska. They gave me a car allowance that sounded great. When I got there....I discovered that it was double that to rent a car there.

Also, you may want to consider traveling with a friend. With the travel allowance they pay.....if you travel low budget (motel 6)...you can often pay for your friends food and airline ticket back (or 1/2). The trip can be a great experience. Many people would love to go and see part of the country and then fly back.

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Question


If health insurance is provided by a travel agency, what happens if I take a few weeks off between assignments?? Does this cause problems when trying to establish insurance again once I go to a new assignment?

Response


Insurance is a good question. I used to get my own independent insurance. However, it's a little harder now to get insurance that will cover you from state to state. When you have your own independent insurance, you don't have to worry about things like that and the companies will often reimburse you for your expenses of the insurance.

Company insurance isn't a bad deal either. First, I would call and find out when exactly your insurance coverage ends. Sometimes the insurance is good for 30 days after your assignment ends, depending on when it started. If your insurance is expiring at the same time your assignment expires, you can pay for COBRA insurance. All companies have to offer COBRA insurance. This basically allows you to extend your insurance coverage. It is a little more expensive and it comes out of your pocket, but you would be covered when you took time off.

Hope this helps you in finding what you need and taking the time off I'm sure you deserve.

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