Travelers: picky scheduling

  1. Greetings, All

    I'm currently working with a traveler who stipulated in contract that she will not work Fridays. This makes our Fridays awful as she is a specialized nurse and there is no replacement for her from within the facility. She's talking about renewing her contract but making arrangements for even more time off. I know that our travelers will often schedule a vacation during the contract period, but haven't had one before who refused to work a certain day of the week, every week.

    Is this common practice? The Director who signed her contract was interim and had no real clue as to the needs of our unit. I'm pretty sure that the new Director will not renew her under the circumstances. Kind of sad: she's competent and likeable. This was her first traveling assignment. Is she being too picky or are we expecting too much?
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  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   mustangsheba
    I see nothing wrong with what she did. The fault lies in the person who agreed to her stipulation. Why doesn't your facility get someone to cover for her on Fridays?
  4. by   RNed
    One of the things the nursing shortage has developed is latitude for travel nurses. In essence they can stipulate certain parameters regarding work, days off, units worked, area worked, etc.

    Management has an option of not contracting with an individual who's working conditions do not fulfill the requirement. This is why it is so improtant that management define the needs and contract to those needs. If the travel nurse has the superior position, she/he can decide to work somewhere else. If management has a superior postion they can choose not to contract.

    It is supply and demand.
  5. by   ratchit
    I agree with the others.

    Traveling is a step closer to a business relationship than staff nursing is. The nurse and the hospital come to the table and try to work out a deal. Both sides have to agree to the conditions before there is a deal. If the administrator agreed to what the traveler asked for, you really can't hold it against the nurse. She didn't know what the needs of the unit are- your administrator should have.

    Travelers don't have the protections that staff nurses do. We don't have a union, our contracts are often pretty vague, and our recruiters are salespeople. If there is a dispute, a nurse who walks away is threatened with financial loss and professional ruin. Hospitals are rarely held to their promises. Several travelers who were on their way to the hospital I am at now had their signed contracts cancelled days before starting. Left them in the lurch but nothing happened to the hospital. A couple hospitals promised bonuses then cancelled the nurse's contract with 1-2 weeks left- contract wasn't completed, no bonus was due. Nothing happened to them- except they started having trouble getting any travelers to go there. <grin>

    Travelling has great points that are well advertised, and many downsides that staff rn's don't see. If a traveller said "I will come if I don't work Fridays" then the hospital has to deal with it. That's not a common condition but more power to her for getting it.
  6. by   KellyandtheBoys
    If she is needed on Fridays then she is probably being picky. After all, we would all love to have off EVERY Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Maybe she can arrange to have off every other Friday. This seems a lot more fair.

    Our travelers pretty much work the same schedule as everyone else. So far, I've not noticed any of them asking for special treatment.
  7. by   PhantomRN
    I say if this nurse can make an agreement that suits her more power to her and to nursing as a whole. She made a contract with admin to take the position, so maybe admin is finally realizing they need to start dealing in order to keep good nurses around.

    Why begrudge this nurse?She is there working full time isnt she? She could be just as easily working at another facility.
  8. by   P_RN
    We had a nurse who requested every Tuesday off. She wouldn't specify why, and the nurse manager really gave her a hard time about it.

    It turned out that she had chemotherapy that day and wouldn't be able to work that evening (this was wayyy before Zofran). Anyway, would you believe the NM CALLED the oncologist and asked him to reschedule the chemo as having her off Tuesdays was NOT convenient to the schedule!!!

    The traveller shouldn't have to explain the Friday agreement. The hospital accepted her with that stipulation and needs to abide by it.

    P
  9. by   redhedgoddess
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    To give a bit more background, we are a 13 bed LDRP unit with 4 teams of 4 full-time staff working 12 hour shifts, 36 hours one week, 48 the next. All of our other travelers have worked as a team member on a specific team for the duration of the contract. They've often had vacation time scheduled in the middle, but nobody has had a specific day off every week, certainly not our busiest day of the week! This particular nurse is working her first traveling assignment. She is needed to cover a leave of absence and is one of 3 L&D nurses on the team. Fridays are very busy for scheduled C sections and we do alot of triaging (labor checks, NSTs, etc) for the coming weekend which requires an L&D nurse.

    She's a nice person and a good nurse but she isn't making friends because she knows how slammed our Fridays are without her and laughs and tells us what she was doing while we were running our butts off (Ladies' night is Thursday and she likes to dance then recover slowly Friday as a sun worshiper by her pool). Then, if we have a "quiet" *knocking on wood* day, she wants to be sent home early or called off because she gets paid even if she doesn't work, again, not making points with the rest of us... If she weren't such an overall likeable person, we'd have probably had to reaaalllyyy hate her!

    There is no staff to pull in to help on the busy days. We'll float med/surg nurses over who care for mother/baby couplets, but no other L&D nurses are available. She says she's going to renew for another 13 weeks but is going to stipulate having even more days off next time. Under other circumstances, in other units, I don't suppose that would be a problem. I agree that it isn't a mark against her that admin signed her contract with her concessions. The new administrator, thankfully, is taking the time to research our needs a bit more. I just was wondering if this is common practice with travelers as a whole.
  10. by   mustangsheba
    Not just for travelers but also for nurses who have a life. I don't feel that what I do on my days off is anybodys business but my own, and I turn off my phone! I do think it's a bit tacky to rub everybody's nose in it about being out by the pool. That kind of takes the edge off her niceness doesn't it? Bottom line is, however, her stipulations were agreed to by management. You describe a competent nurse who is managing her life. She asked for her days and got them. This seems very healthy to me. I think we should all take a page out of her book.
  11. by   Jay Levan
    I certainly do not care to critisize, but it seems to me the answer to your question is in the body of your message. If this person is likeable and competent, then why would you have any objection to this person, negotiating their contract with your hospital. Perhaps one should look inward before throwing out the "Baby, with the Bathwater. I hope you noticed that I did not assume anything, and certainly have no idea what your Unit's needs are, but I am aware from extensive travel experience, that hospital admin. fosters these situations by holding hardlines where salary and benefit package negotiation is concerned. If I continued on that line, you probably would not want to see my response.
  12. by   stevierae
    I did many years as a staff RN, and took my years of call, and now I often take assignments as a traveler .

    THE WHOLE POINT OF BEING A TRAVELER IS TO BE ABLE TO CALL YOUR OWN HOURS. I do not take call, and I do not work schedule myself on Fridays or weekends. If other people don't like it, they are welcome to become travelers.

    So far, I have never heard anybody complain , because they also know that I am a good nurse, I am versatile enough to scrub and circulate pretty much anything, and I don't whine about my assignment like some of the staff members do. I don't have the luxury of saying "I don't scrub" or "I don't like Dr. So- and -So," and I wouldn't do so anyway. Also, I am very flexible, and will often work overtime, come in early to help out with lunches or breaks, or work Fridays IF I HAPPEN TO FEEL LIKE IT AND DON'T HAVE OTHER PLANS. That autonomy, again, is part of being a traveler.

    Travelers have to be able to come in literally off the street, with very little orientation to your facility or department, and step into virtually any situation. We are knowledgeable and confident, and can get along with anybody. We have fun, and we don't consider the job our life.

    A lot of staff members have become complacent, have confined themselves to only one specialty area, and are resentful that the travelers' variety of skills make them look bad.

    They know, deep down, that they don't have the skills necessary to become travelers--they are stuck, right where they are, and will stay until they retire. A lot of them have worked in the same facility since graduating from nursing school, and think there is only one way to do things--"the way they have always done it." They are threatened by change, or by seeing other nurses who know how to do things more than one way.

    Think about it this way: travelers do not get benefits, and we generally get the worst assignments-- the ones that the staff members do not want. We work with the most difficult doctors--the ones that the staff have refused to work with.

    While you get to go to staff meeetings and inservices, and enjoy the treats brought in by reps, we are the ones who cover your rooms. We are the ones who make it possible for you to take vacations, because your hospital would rather spend money on travelers than hire other staff members and benefit them.

    You think we get tons of money, but our wages don't come close to yours when you factor your benefits in. We don't get vacation or sick time. If we take call, it is paid at a fraction of what you would be paid. We are often not able to get the "time and a half" over 8 hours in a day that you take for granted--our travel company pays us according to the state labor laws in our home of record. My home of record pays time and a half only after 40 hours in a week. Therefore, if I have to work 12 hour shifts, as a lot of travel contracts stipulate, I am getting only straight time.

    So, you see, travelers don't have it as good as you seem to think. Most travelers do it only to travel to an area where they have other business interests, or to keep up their skills in one area of nursing while they work other nursing jobs or run independent businesses, or just live their lives the rest of the year. No one is stopping those staff members who complain from taking the same risks and doing the same.

    Staff members who complain are usually intimidated by travelers because, deep down, they know that their skills are not up to par and they are intimidated by the travelers. Trust me, we don't want to take your jobs. if your institution was such a great place to work, it could attract and retain permanent staff, rather than having to depend on travelers.
  13. by   stevierae
    Hey mustangsheba!! Just noticed you are from Portland!! Let's get together sometime! Send me a private message if you want.
  14. by   Nurse Ratched
    I'd have to call it selective scheduling on the part of the traveler, which she is entitled to assuming she can get a contract specifying that. Not to sound insensitive to your unit's needs, but she is probably working as a traveler to allow her those freedoms. We should all be so fortunate (altho it diminshes her skills to suggest this is luck; it's not - she has made a conscious choice to take the uncertainty of travelling in exchange for its many benefits.)

    I hope your manager can make it worth some competent nurse's while to be there on Fridays. I presume that she will base her decision to renew the traveler's contract based on how well it meets the unit's staffing needs and how many other staffing options she has.

    (I do agree it's poor form for her to brag!)

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Travelers:  picky scheduling