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Avoid turbulence while travel nursing
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, brings more than 30 years of experience to her role as Nurse.com’s legal information columnist.
Travel nursing is a unique and interesting way to practice your specialty area of nursing. You’re able to travel and live in different places and meet new colleagues, and you’re challenged to provide nursing care in various settings. And it can provide fair compensation for your hard work.
One area of travel nursing that is often problematic, according to readers’ comments, is when the contract signed by the travel nurse and the travel agency is not adhered to by the travel agency.
Although not a problem every travel nurse faces, nonadherence to the travel contract can result in turmoil, lost wages and a ruined relationship between the nurse and the agency.
According to readers’ remarks, one example of nonadherence to a travel contract is when the travel agency misrepresents aspects of the travel arrangement. Examples of misrepresentation include falsifying working conditions, housing accommodations and staffing numbers.
Travel nurses also have reported problems such as payroll errors or wages not being paid and scheduling problems by the facility to which the travel nurse is assigned (e.g., floating when this is not part of the contract, changes in shift assignments).
Perhaps the best way to avoid such problems is to have a travel agreement reviewed by a nurse attorney or attorney of your choice prior to signing it. The attorney would review the entire contract with an eye toward how you are protected under the agreement and what legal responsibilities both you and the agency have under the contract.
Your attorney may review the agreement for items such as benefit plans (e.g., health and dental insurance) and who pays for them and whether the agency with which you are signing up is certified by the Joint Commission.
Whether or not you had your agreement reviewed prior to signing it, if problems arise that the contract governs, you need to seek a quick resolution. A first step, of course, is to try to settle the matter with the specific person or entity. This might mean seeking a resolution with the payroll or accounting department at the facility or with the nurse travel agency directly. Perhaps the error was inadvertent. Likewise, a floating mandate by the facility may be easily resolved by pointing out the agreement that excludes such an assignment.
If a quick, agreeable and fair resolution is not possible, speak with the nurse recruiter with whom you worked when seeking the position. If that attempts fails, it is essential to seek the advice of that nurse attorney or attorney you originally consulted before signing the agreement, or seek the advice of a nurse attorney or attorney who can help you obtain a legal and fair resolution.
...nonadherence to the travel contract can result in turmoil, lost wages and a ruined relationship between the nurse and the agency."
- Nancy J. Brent, RN
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Seek legal advice on travel contracts to prevent problems
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By Nancy Brent, MS, JD, RN
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