Travel Nursing, like most professions, has a lingo and/or vocabulary that can be overwhelming to new travel nurses starting in this career. Below is a list of commonly used vocabulary that you are likely to encounter during your time as a travel nurse. I am hoping this helps bring some light to some of my commonly asked questions. Here are the Top Travel Nurse Vocabulary and Lingo phrases you should know.
Contract: Travel nurses work under a short-term contract ranging from 4 weeks to 13 weeks. Although 26-week assignments are possible, it can be uncommon within the industry. International contracts can last from 1 to 2 years. Once a contract is completed, travel nurses may be offered an extension for additional weeks or find a new position.
Assignment Start Date: This is the week cthe travel nurse assignment begins. Usually, this date is listed as the Sunday before orientation week even if your first official day is different.
Assignment End Date: This is the week the travel nurse assignment ends. Usually, this date is listed as the Saturday of your last contract week even if your final day is different. This does not correlate with contract extensions as a new contract is initiated upon agreement of an extension.
Contract Term: This is the amount of time you are contracted to work at a facility. Whether that is days, weeks, or years.
Contract Shift: This is the shift the facility has contracted you for during your assignment. This can be day shift (7a-7p), night shift (7p-7a), mid shift (9a-9p, 11a-11p, 1p-1a, 3p-3a), or variable shifts (switching between two shifts such as day shift and night shift).
Approved Time Off: This is the specific days or weeks you requested off during your discussion with your recruiter and during your interview with the facility. If the facility agrees to provide you with these days off, the days will be written into your contract.
Unit: This is the unit in which you are assigned to during your contract. As with any contract, the unit is at liberty to float you to different floors depending on the need of the facility. However, it is important to review your contract regarding which unit you are assigned for accuracy.
Required Hours: This is the number of hours you are required to work per week. These hours can range from 24 to 48 hours a week or more.
Guaranteed Hours: This is the number of hours you are guaranteed per week within the contract period. Guaranteed hour’s contracts are preferred amongst the industry. Not all contracts are guaranteed hours contracts. However, even if the contract has guaranteed hours, there is an allowance the hospital may be allowed to call you off during your contract without having to pay for your services.
Base Hourly Rate: This is the initial compensation rate you receive in exchange for hours worked. For example, $20/hour for 36 hours = $720 (taxable). This rate is usually taxable under the IRS.
On Call Hourly Rate: This is the hourly rate you receive if you are placed on call with the facility. This typically effects OR and Cath Lab nurses more often than other departments. Rates are typically lower than base hourly rates and can range from $3 per hour to $10 per hour.
Per Diem: This is the daily or weekly rate you receive for Meals & Incidentals. This compensation covers daily cost of food and other incidentals. This rate is tax free if you meet certain guidelines. Please consult a tax professional regarding these guidelines.
Housing Type/Allowance: This outlines the type of housing you opted for and the allowance you receive based on that decision. If you choose to find your own housing, the housing type will be listed as a subsidy. If you choose to have your agency find you housing, the housing type will be listed as agency placed. The housing amount will usually be quoted in a monthly rate and a prorated amount will be distributed in each paycheck. This rate is tax-free based on housing costs.
Travel Reimbursement: This is the amount the agency will reimburse you for travel expenses. This amount (if offered) will be distributed by paying half on your first pay check and half on your last paycheck for the contract. Consult your travel agency regarding their guidelines for travel reimbursement.
Tax Home: This is a home where you return to regularly and incur recurring expenses. Strong legal and historical ties must be evident by any of the following: driver’s license, voter registration, car registration, mail delivery, and outside expenses such as banking. This can apply to either a mortgage, apartment, or home share (renting with a roommate).
Missed Hours Penalty: This is the amount you pay back for any missed working hours. If you call off a shift, you will not receive a portion of your per diem and housing allowance. Some contracts may offer a re-earned clause allowing you to be re-compensated for missed hours if you pick up additional shifts during your contract.
Travel nurse lingo, vocabulary, compensation, and contracts can be difficult to understand. This can leave nurses feeling confused. Use this post as a guideline to help navigate your understanding of common terms and lingos for future practices within the career. Remember to always ask questions, understanding your contract thoroughly, and enjoy the adventure.