What happens when a travel nurse contract cancellation occurs? When you begin your travel nursing journey, you are filled with anxieties and excitement of starting a new adventure. You sign your contract, submit your documentation, pack your belongings, and start your road trip to a new area. An area where you may not know the people, location of stores, or understand the culture. I honestly believe travel changes a person from the inside out. You become a new person with new views based on your travels.
With all of these changes, no travel nurse considers having their contract cancelled either before or especially during their assignment. However, once it happens, it’s all you think about when you are in assignment or beginning a new assignment.
HOW MY TRAVEL NURSING JOURNEY BEGAN AND WHAT MISTAKES WE MADE ALONG THE WAY
In 2016, I started travel nursing and heard of travelers getting cancelled. Never did I think it would happen to me. I worked for the last two years as a travel nurse and believed that my specialty was in high demand. It wasn’t until this year (2018) that I experienced my first contract cancellation while on assignment.
My husband and I decided to take an assignment based on very little research we did ourselves. Note, this research wasn’t enough and learned our lesson. The assignment in question was a night shift position with good pay for 13 weeks. Keep in mind, I haven’t worked a night shift since 2015, but I was willing to give anything a try. Honestly, you can do anything for 13 weeks. We found an RV resort nearby the hospital that required payment for the lot up front. This meant we needed to pay over $3,000 upon arrival. This was the first and last time we will pay for our housing up front. After a long day of travel, we arrived at our campsite and I was ready to begin work that following Monday.
HOW MY TRAVEL NURSE CONTRACT BEGAN AND RED FLAGS
On Monday, I arrived at my assignment location and reported directly to human resources. Of course, human resources weren’t aware that my assignment unit had hired a traveler. This was not my first assignment that the facility was unaware of my start information, so I didn’t consider that this was a problem. I was quickly rushed through the human resources process and immediately taken to the system educator’s office to start my morning orientation. I was provided information regarding my hospital policies and procedures and taken immediately to the floor. Unfortunately, I did not have access to the computer charting system and was unable to start floor orientation the same day. My nurse manager rescheduled my orientation shift and I returned home.
NIGHT ONE OF MY ASSIGNMENT
Three days later, I returned to start my orientation shift on nights. I did not receive a warm welcome when I arrived. The charge nurse was unaware that the unit had hired a traveler and wasn’t sure what kind of orientation I was to be given. I had advised that I was a travel nurse contracted for 13 weeks on the unit and was to receive an entire shift of orientation. I was placed with another nurse who had never precepted before and didn’t particularly want to precept me. Unfortunately, the other nurses on the unit were per diem and unable to provide me with an orientation. This should have been my first red flag.
My preceptor began by having me log into the computer charting system. Though, I had used this system before, it was not the same version I was accustomed to. I advised my preceptor I wasn’t sure about the charting system but was never provided with much assistance to learn how to chart and ultimately had a difficult time charting during my shift.
I was advised I would be assigned two patients on my first shift that I would chart on and provide nursing care to. After performing my assessments and providing total care to both patients, I sat down to chart on my patients and have a snack. I was told by the staff that I appeared lazy because I didn’t chart in the patient’s rooms. Keep in mind it was almost midnight because I had answered every call light and helped numerous patients to the restroom or provided brief changes. My preceptor was not helpful and I could not find them throughout the shift.
When I became hungry, I was advised the staff ate at their computers. The hospital didn’t provide the staff with a proper lunch room for breaks. The lunch room was a broom closet with a table and two chairs. Needless to say, I never had lunch that evening and mainly snacked throughout the shift.
My preceptor received an admission half way through the shift that I would assist with. The agreement between us was I could do the admission documentation and my preceptor would complete the patient assessment. Unfortunately, I cannot provide much detail regarding this patient; however, the patient should have never been transferred to the floor to begin with. We were placed in an unsafe situation.
While my preceptor was caring for the new admission most of the shift, I provided care to all our patients along with medication administration and obtained vital signs. I was never given much feedback regarding my shift even though I asked for it on multiple occasions. After obtaining our morning labs, I was told I could leave prior to shift change since I had to return the following night. I was given a great job by the charge nurse and clocked out for the day.
WHERE MY TRAVEL NURSE CONTRACT WENT HORRIBLY WRONG
Upon returning to my shift the following night, I noticed my name was not on the assignment board. I assumed I had been floated to another unit since the unit had floated three nurses the night of my orientation. I was advised by the same charge nurse from the night before to speak with the house supervisor. The house supervisor advised that I had been cancelled. Assuming the house supervisor had cancelled my shift, I advised that if they cancelled my shift I would still receive pay because I had a guaranteed hours contract. The house supervisor proceeded to advise that my contract was cancelled and that I would need to contact the nurse manager. I sent over a text to my nurse manager that evening and never heard back.
I advised my recruitment company that I had been cancelled and learned they were not aware of any cancellations. It wasn’t until three days after my last shift that I was advised they had cancelled my contract due to professionalism and nursing competency reasons. The facility claimed that I was cancelled for three reasons: (1) my stethoscope was not visible during my shift, (2) my charting was not completed correctly, and (3) I left the facility early without permission.
MY ADVICE FOR TRAVEL NURSES
To begin, brothers and sisters, I advise that you never wear your stethoscope around your neck during your shift. I have witnessed several co-workers getting choked by patients with their stethoscopes. I always keep my stethoscope in my pants pocket for safe keeping and my overall safety. Regardless, the facility staff and/or charge nurse never asked me if I had my stethoscope on my person. This could have easily been rectified.
I was never provided with a list of documentation necessary for the shift that I had received before from other facilities nor did my preceptor assist me with appropriate charting. I have never had an issue with my charting in the five years I have been a nurse until this year. Trust and believe this will not be the only time I am sure I will hear about charting problems.
Lastly, in regard to leaving early, I know I was given permission, but it is ultimately their word against mine. I learned a lesson from this experience and will not leave my shift early again regardless if I am given the opportunity to.
THIS TRAVEL NURSE CONTRACT COST US DEARLY
This contract cancellation cost my family a lot of money and time. Not only did we have to make the long travel home, but we were out thousands of dollars. We learned a lot from this travel assignment and take these experiences with us in the future.
I chose to tell this story because I know I am not the only travel nurse who has been a victim of a contract cancellation. There are times you will be cancelled and the reasons for the cancellation won’t make any sense. You learn from the experience and either decide to move on to another assignment or return to permanent staff. It’s honestly up to you on what option you choose.