How to get out of a nursing contract? (the right way)

Travel Nursing

Breaking A Travel Nurse Contract

At some point during your career as a travel nurse you may find yourself in a situation where you want to cancel an assignment. If you find yourself in that situation asking yourself, “how do I get out of my nursing contract?” it may feel daunting. First and foremost, your well-being is most important. The travel nursing agency you’re working with should support you in your decision if your well-being is in jeopardy. Below we will outline in detail all the consequences and the process for cancelling a nursing contract.

Can I keep a good rep with my company if I break a contract?

Canceling a contract is never something we encourage. However, there are things that are beyond our control that might require such a drastic move. If done properly, you can minimize any costs and negative outcomes from breaking a travel nursing contract.

The first thing to ask yourself is, “What does the contract say?” A travel contract should specifically address what happens in the event of a cancellation by either you or the facility. If your contract does not cover this situation, then you might also check any service agreements you signed with your travel nursing agency. Many agencies, for example, will have you sign a service agreement that covers the professional conduct travelers are required to maintain while on assignment. These types of agreements can also cover what happens in the event of a cancellation by the facility and/or the traveler. Agreements like this are usually signed on a yearly basis and cover  all assignments a traveler might work during the year.

After you read what your contract states (or perhaps what it DOES NOT state in some cases), you should call your recruiter. Be up front with them and tell them the reason behind wanting to dissolve your contract. Being a healthcare professional, you agreed to a contract and should have a good reason for wanting to sever it.

When contracts are dissolved is often the time where you will find out how good your travel company might be. If you are met with threats or bullying, then at least you will know that your next assignment should be with a different company. But, you might also find a company that is willing to work with you to minimize the damage and provide you with other travel opportunities in the future.

If you intend on traveling again once the situation is resolved, let them know that. It might even be possible for you to just take off a few weeks and then return to your assignment when you are able. The point is, don’t just call your recruiter and say, “I need to break my contract”. Explain yourself and work with your recruiter to find a solution that will make you and your company happy.

Open communication is key whenever you find you must modify an assignment contract.

Consequences of Cancelling a Contract

Depending on the terms of your contract there may be repercussions that fall on you, your recruiter, or the agency you’re working with. If your agency provided housing it could be in jeopardy, and you may be required to pay the remainder of the lease. If you secured your own housing, you will have to navigate that situation on your own.

Canceling contracts can also affect future contracts. It may be difficult to get good references. You may have to face tough questions during future interviews. Depending on the circumstances your agency might have your back, or you might not be invited back to work with them again. Travel nursing agencies thrive on having good relationships with facilities and travelers. If the facility is in the wrong, your agency should side with you. However, if you’re in the wrong, you may find that your agency will decline working with you on future contracts.

Who Can Cancel A Contract?

Both facilities and travelers can cancel contracts. No two situations are the same so it’s difficult to present hypothetical scenarios for each possible situation. However, hospitals may cancel contracts for several reasons. Mistakes in seasonal demand forecasts could cause an overstaffing problem. EMR conversion contracts can sometimes get cancelled for a number of reasons. One of the most common reasons for hospitals canceling contracts is due to poor nurse performance. This is definitely not great for the traveler and a situation you should try to avoid.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have personal health problems, a family emergency, poor work environment, or another valid reason for cancelling your contract you can do that.

Protect Yourself From Contract Cancellation

Be prepared for the possibility. Having a contingency plan will help you financially and mentally. Focus on flexibility by packing light and thinking ahead about what you will do if your contract get’s cancelled.

Perform a risk assessment for the facility, location, and your skill set & experience. Evaluate all elements of the situation so you know whether or not you’re likely to get canceled. Once you’re on assignment pay attention to how much time and energy the facility invests in your orientation. If they care about you being a good fit, that’s a good sign.