Andrew Wettengel / Tuesday, August 23, 2022 / Categories: Work World


Losing any job can be daunting, but it’s especially worrisome as a travel nurse. You’ve already packed your bags and know the details of your next assignment—location, pay package, vacation time, and more—only for your contract to be canceled.

Unfortunately, many travel nurses may experience a canceled contract at some point. While it has nothing to do with your skills and experience as a nurse, it can be incredibly discouraging and stressful. You may be wondering what the next steps are and how you can make up for the time and money you’ve already lost, especially if you’ve already paid large expenses like a deposit on an apartment or moving expenses, or you’re struggling to find another assignment.

Handling a canceled travel nursing contract can be hectic, but with the right mindset and clear thinking, you can turn the situation around for the best.

Why Do Hospitals Cancel Travel Nursing Contracts?

While getting fired as a travel nurse from a contract at a hospital can be easily taken personally, it usually has nothing to do with your skillset, experience, or personality. Instead, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why the hospital may cancel the contract, including overstaffing issues, patient complaints, and more.

Many hospitals that are located in seasonal areas, such as Arizona or Florida, see a larger influx of patients during the winter months. For this reason, healthcare facilities in those areas will overstaff to ensure they have enough personnel for every patient. If there are fewer patients than expected, many hospitals will end your travel nursing contract early, or cancel it altogether before your assignment begins.

Some facilities staff up for electronic medical record (EMR) conversion. When this happens, permanent employees and staff members need time to learn the new EMR system, forcing hospitals to hire extra staff like travel nurses. If the EMR conversion gets pushed back and the extra staff is no longer needed, your contract may be canceled.

Needless to say, there could be a variety of reason for a facility cancelling your contract, most of which are out of your control as the amazing Travel Nurse you are. So, the key is, keep calm and adapt to the sudden change. If you have the right recruiter, they’ll have plenty of back up options to keep you working. There is definitely no shortage of work in the industry, that’s for certain.

How to Handle a Canceled Travel Nursing Contract

There’s no doubt that a canceled travel nursing contract is stress-inducing. However, there are some ways you can manage the stress and move forward by shifting your focus to the next logical steps and, eventually, your next assignment.

1. Don’t Panic

Your initial response after getting fired from a travel nurse contract is likely to panic. However, it’s best to take a deep breath. Instead of panicking, you’ll need to clear your head so you can think of ways to resolve the situation quickly. Losing one travel nursing contract is not the end of the world, and many times it can be a great learning opportunity.

In reality, a canceled contract is known to happen from time to time and is far more common than you would think. This situation is part of being a travel nurse, so it must be handled accordingly. Becoming flustered or anxious will likely only make the situation worse, so it’s important to relax and think of solutions for resolving the situation instead of immediately assuming it’s the worst-case scenario.

2. Talk to Your Recruiter Right Away

Typically, when a hospital cancels your contract, they will contact your travel nursing recruiter, who will then contact you directly. If they don’t, you’ll want to reach out to your recruiter as soon as possible. Not only will your recruiter likely be a calming force if you’re stressed, but they can also work with you to find a solution, such as another assignment.

Because your recruiter is there to work with you one-on-one, they can be more personal with and understanding of your situation. They’ve likely dealt with canceled contracts in the past, so they know how to best handle the situation and ensure you have a positive experience moving forward.

Your recruiter may even be able to land you an assignment in the same location or proximity as your canceled one, so you wouldn’t have to worry about canceling your housing and travel arrangements and the costs associated with that. This is why it’s important to talk to your recruiter immediately to see your options.

3. Spend Less and Use Your Savings (If Necessary)

One of the reasons many travel nurses panic when their contract is canceled is because of the financial risks associated with it. If you rely heavily on the money for your next assignment, suddenly taking that away can be scary, especially if you don’t have enough money in your savings to cover your expenses.

You may have gotten lucky and not made your housing arrangements before your assignment, meaning it may be easy for you to find a new contract or make different arrangements. However, you may suddenly have the large financial burden of paying the full terms of your lease—or at least the large fee it costs to cancel it. To avoid this, the best thing you can do is follow a tight budget and only spend money on necessities.

It’s also a good idea to build up a savings account as you travel from assignment to assignment. Having a financial cushion already in place can help to alleviate any financial stress associated with a canceled travel nursing contract.

4. Be Flexible

In many cases, hospitals may cancel your travel nursing contract without much warning. Some facilities may notify you earlier, such as giving a warning two weeks before the cancellation. In both cases, there isn’t much time for you to prepare for what’s next, making it incredibly important to be flexible.

A canceled contract can be upsetting but learning to pivot quickly to other opportunities is important. You may need to be flexible about relocating in a short amount of time if your recruiter lands you another assignment somewhere else. Or, you may have to take some time off before your next assignment begins, which requires flexibility on your part to adapt financially based on the situation.

Your recruiter may also be able to work something out with the hospital where you can change over to a different unit or shift. Being open to these possibilities is key to success in travel nursing, since the job field can be incredibly unpredictable at times.

5. Update Your Resume

Many travel nurses wonder if they should include a canceled contract on their resume. If the contract was ended early after you already started the assignment, future employers may wonder why the hospital canceled in the first place. Leaving the canceled contract out of your resume leaves a large space where you weren’t employed, which may also be a point of contention for future employers.

When it comes down to it, it’s best to remain honest. If you want future employers to trust you, it would be in your best interest to tell the truth, including on your resume. This may mean giving a brief explanation of why the assignment was canceled. Fortunately, since canceled contracts do happen from time to time, many healthcare facilities will understand. Your recruiter is also there to advocate for you to ensure the cancellation doesn’t impact future employment opportunities for you.

6. Approach Contracts Differently in the Future

When negotiating your travel nursing contract in the future, consider discussing cancellation terms that would hold the hospital liable in the case that they need to cancel your contract. This may include a clause about being reimbursed for travel, housing, or licensing expenses you already incurred prior to cancellation.

However, remember that your travel nursing agency will likely do everything they can to keep their customers—the healthcare facilities—as happy as possible. If they intend to send travel nurses there in the future, they’ll try their hardest to keep a solid relationship with that hospital. Although canceled contracts can be a burden on you as the nurse, many agencies will do what they can to cater to the hospital—whether that means replacing you with another nurse who’s more in line with the position or making sure there are no hard feelings after the contract has been canceled.

As you move toward future contracts, take advantage of moments where you can advocate for yourself to ensure that you don’t end up in a bind if a contract is canceled. While the hospital may not necessarily be willing to meet your demands, they might be more willing to meet you in the middle if you initiate the conversation.

A canceled nursing contract can be stressful, but OneStaff Medical is here to help you find your next assignment. Contact us today at 877-783-1483, or browse our current open positions.

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