Are you feeling burnt out? Stressed out? Overworked? It might be time for a vacation! As a travel nurse, taking time off can be tricky. You don’t want to sacrifice your career, but you also need some time to relax and rejuvenate.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to take time off as a travel nurse without sacrificing your career!
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How does taking time off as a travel nurse work?
As a travel nurse, you have the ability to take time off during and in between assignments. Flexibility with time off requests is much easier as a traveler since you’re not tied to one facility or unit.
This means that if you need to take a week off, you can request time off from your agency and the facility. This request is written within your contract as an understanding between you, your agency, and the facility. The key is to plan ahead!
Taking time off during your contract
How do you request time off during your contract? It is important to have this discussion during the initial interview stage so the requested time off can be written in your contract. You may also have the ability to extend your contract to complete all shifts that are missed at the end of the contract if you choose to.
For example, if you are taking a one-week vacation, you can request to extend your contract for an additional week. The facility may or may not agree to this, but it is important to have the conversation. You can also plan to work at the beginning of one week and the end of the following week. This will allow you to still take your time off but maintain the shifts of your contract.
An important tip regarding time off during your contract is to find your own housing while on assignment. If you choose to use agency-provided housing, you will be back charged for housing the week you are away. This can be very costly. Your best option is to obtain your own housing. This way, you do not have to worry about being back charged and can come and go as you please!
For example, if you stay at an Extended Stay, you can check out the week you are gone and check back in when you return in order to avoid any additional costs while you are away. Extended Stays are not your only option for housing.
Taking time off in-between contracts
The best part of travel nursing is taking time off in-between contracts. This is when you can truly take advantage of your nomadic lifestyle! You can travel the country, visit family and friends, or simply take some time to relax.
Some travel nurses tend to take a few weeks to one year off in-between assignments. The beauty of travel nursing is you get to decide how much time you would like to take off.
If you decide to take time off in-between assignments advise your agency that you plan to take time off. You do not need to provide a time frame if you are not comfortable with providing this information. If you have a recruiter who demands to know this information, this would be considered a red flag for me. You should never feel shameful for taking time off for your mental health.
It is important to understand that when you take time off in-between contracts, you are not considered employed. This means that you will not be receiving a paycheck and will not have health insurance if it is provided by the agency.
If you are taking time off for an extended period of time, it is important to plan accordingly. You may want to consider getting a short-term health insurance plan so you are still covered in case of an emergency.
Hospital's Perspective of Time Off Requests for Travel Nurses
As assignments are usually short-term, some hospitals are worried about the amount of time they are able to use you as a travel nurse. As hospitals have ongoing needs, they want to make sure they are getting their money’s worth when they hire a travel nurse.
This means that time-off requests can be difficult to approve.
If you are a travel nurse and need to take some time off, the best way to do this is by requesting time off in between contracts. This way, the hospital is not left short-staffed and you are able to take the time you need to recharge!
Hospitals are not required to grant your time off requests and may completely refuse your requests.
They may consider your time off requests if: (1) You have a good reason for the request, (2) It does not put the hospital in a difficult position, (3) You have a good track record as an employee, and/or (4) The request does not interfere with the needs of the hospital.
Time off requests are typically refused especially during EMR conversions or if a new unit is opening.
Travel nursing is a great career choice for those who enjoy adventure and want the flexibility to take time off. However, it is important to understand that taking time off may be difficult to do during assignments and can come at a cost. Plan accordingly and be sure to communicate your needs with your agency! They may be more understanding than you think.
Wishing you all the best on your travel nursing journey! Safe travels!