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Contracts, Safety Ratios, and Stipends - Oh My!

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by JenRN2010 JenRN2010, BSN (New) New

Specializes in psychiatric. Has 11 years experience.

My husband and I are both RNs and want to begin travel nursing to support hospitals in, “COVID hot-spots.“ I work from home and could live anywhere. My husband would take a 6 month sabbatical to do travel nursing.

My husband is a 10 year CICU RN (CCRN) who transferred to the ED a year ago (now trauma certified, and an ED pod-lead). Since April, he was pulled to the COVID ICU to precept and mentor non-ICU RNs. An ongoing reduction in COVID cases led to the recent closing of the hospital’s COVID ICU.

The rate of new COVID cases in the state is down to a couple hundred a day. Now, back in the ED, he goes several shifts without a single new positive case (at the busiest ED in the state, a Level I Trauma Center).

Questions:

What was the biggest mistake that you ever made in contract negotiations? Can a requirement of “3/12’s in a row,” be written into a contract?

What is the worst-case scenario of unsafe ICU staffing ratios that you have experienced?

Is the housing stipend negotiable? Thank you for any suggestions. We don’t quite know where to start.

Yes, it is common to have stacked shifts written into the contract. Typically recruiters should have a good idea if this is possible at a given facility.

Worst case? I've heard some horror stories. But remember, you have choices. You don't have to take any particular assignment. Any hospital that isn't a traveler mill (extremely heavy user) is going to have the manager interview you by phone. If they call you, they already want you and unless they need a specific skill clarified, it is really for you to interview them - they are trying to sell you on coming. Grill them about staffing ratios, turnover, patient population or anything else, like why they need you! (best answer, pregnancy leave). Any bad vibes, just tell the manager you will talk to your recruiter and say not a good fit to your recruiter.

Everything is negotiable. However, there is only one pot to draw from. The industry works on all inclusive bill rates for every hour you work. That is split multiple ways into your compensation, and the agency margin. If the agency margin is fixed (they have a goal of keeping the lights on and recruiters and other staff paid), all you are doing is changing how your compensation is split up. Yes, assuming you keep your home (valid IRS tax home), housing, per diem, and travel reimbursement can all be paid tax free. This is often already maximized, at least to the extent that their accountant or tax lawyer feels comfortable with - so you may not need to negotiate a low hourly wage and higher tax free, that is the way most agencies already deal with compensation packages.

So per the article you read, call lots of agencies and talk to lots of recruiters. You will learn a lot about stuff you haven't even thought about yet. A useful side effect of all that work finding good recruiters.