As a healthcare traveler, you generally sign a 13-week contract. As if signing a 13-week contract is not risky enough for job stability, there is also a chance that the contract could be canceled with a short notice. Travel contract cancellation is never something that you want to happen, but it can and does.
Travel contract cancellation is something that happens in the traveling industry and something that travelers should be knowledgeable of, even if it never happens to you. Travelers get paid high bill rates to fill temporary needs. These needs are primarily because of staffing shortages and medical leaves.
If you are working a contract to fill a staffing shortage (versus a medical leave), it is in the best financial interest of the facility to replace you with a permanent employee as soon as possible. Thus, a traveler will get canceled if a permanent employee gets hired. This could also be the case if the census is high and suddenly drops.
When you look at your contract you will find the length of notice that you can give or receive to legally end a contract in good standing. The standard notice is either 14 or 30 days and varies by the facility you are working at (versus your agency), so for one contract you may be under a 30-day notice and another may be a 14 day.
Kaleigh, a traveling Physical therapist who administers New Grad Travel Therapy, conducted a survey of over 70 traveling therapists on contract cancellations. This survey investigated the percentage of canceled contracts and correlation to setting type. The results indicated that 73% of all travelers who took the survey had been canceled from at least 1 contract. SNFs rated as the setting with the most cancellation notices and nobody reported being canceled from a school contract. This data did not surprise me as most travelers that I know have had a contract terminated, myself included.
So knowing there that is a fair to good chance that you may have a contract canceled as a traveler what can you do to prepare? Here are some things that I have integrated into my life to not be rocked by a contract cancellation if one occurs:
1. Know Your Notice Policy
Look at your contract and see if you have a 14 or 30 day notice. It can change from contract to contract so do not assume that you know. You can change your notice policy (14 days to 30 or vice versa) if both parties (you and the facility) agree to it and have it signed in writing in the contract. Being well educated on your contract and cancellation notices can lead to less stress if it happens down the road.
2. Know The Terms Of Your Lease And Make It Work For You
When leasing an apartment for the short term, read the fine print. Know the terms of your lease and the repercussions of breaking a lease. If you sign a 3-month lease and get cut after a month does that mean that you have to pay for the whole 3 months? Do you need a give a 30 or 60-day notice to break your lease?
Also, think about the area that you are working in. If the geographic area is full of travel jobs you may not care so much about a lease. Because, if your contract is canceled you could easily get another contract in the same geographic area.
Personally, I do not sign leases that are longer than a month to month. The one time I had a contract canceled, I had to pay 60 days worth of rent. Sadly, this was on a rather expensive apartment. That experience stuck with me and now I chose to do only month to month leases.
3. Have An Emergency Fund
Most financial planners recommend that people with permanent jobs have an emergency fund saving of 3-6 months worth of living expenses. Some financial advisors even recommend as high as 8-12 months. As travelers, I think it is highly important that we have a liquid emergency fund, which for us may be needed faster than somebody with a perm job. It may not be as much as 3 months or more, but something to get us through a rough time. Having an emergency fund can ease the financial burden of a contract being broken and reduce overall stress.
4. Attitude For The Win!
In life, especially in travel attitude is everything. If you go into an assignment with a bad attitude, you will probably have a bad assignment. Don’t let a broken contract get you down. Accept that this is part of the business and that it happens. Keep a professional, good attitude for your last 2-4 weeks and move onto the next job. Remember: a travel contract cancellation is nothing personal and it is all a part of the world of travel.