Worth it to Travel for One Contract?

Posted
by adventure_rn adventure_rn, BSN Member Nurse

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

I'm planning to start an NP Program in the fall, and I'm debating whether or not I should use the time between now and then to travel.

The NP programs I'm considering are in-person and out-of-state, and so I'll have to quit my current job before starting school regardless. I'd probably only have time to take a single 13-week contract between now and August (unless I could find a second short-term contract that's less than 13 weeks).

Honestly, the primary benefit is that I could take a single high-paying contract and save as much money as possible over the Summer in preparation for grad school (some jobs in my specialty are paying $4500/week for 36 hrs). I'm feeling frustrated with my current job; I figure that if I'm going to work my butt off in sub-optimal work conditions, I might as well be well-paid. I have no kids, pets, or other obligations.

I've never traveled before, and I'm not sure if the salary is worth all of the logistical hoops for such a short period of time. Also, I'm not sure if I should be upfront with potential recruiters about my time constraints, or if it will make them think I'm wasting their time.

There's also a possibility that I would take another contract after graduating NP school while I apply to jobs, if I'm not able to land something before graduation.

So what do you think? Worth it or not?

Edited by adventure_rn

NedRN

NedRN

1 Article; 5,747 Posts

Depends on your specialty perhaps. I keep getting emails with 6K weekly assignments (which is far more than most NPs make). I would call a few agencies to see what you can get for your specialty. Certainly having a successful and completed travel assignment can only help you if decide to continue at any point as well as give you the idea of how it might work for you. One caveat is health insurance. You may find that extending it from your current employer via the COBRA law may eat up much of the cash advantage.

Onboarding can take some work too, so the sooner you start the process with an agency the better.

Goodneighbor52

Goodneighbor52

Specializes in ER. Has 12 years experience. 6 Posts

In ten years when you are listing the travel contract for 3 months as another job that someone has to verify for your credentials, its just going to annoy you that you have yet another job to list. It’s also another W2 at the end of the year. It's up to you but its really only three months of working one way or the other. 

Edited by Goodneighbor52

NedRN

NedRN

1 Article; 5,747 Posts

Interesting to post such a comment in the travel forum. Of course, if listing a travel assignment is annoying, you could just leave it off your work history. And  really only 3 months of working, well, it might only be $75,000 at crisis rates. Not so important. Better to go into debt while not working for a couple years in school.

Goodneighbor52

Goodneighbor52

Specializes in ER. Has 12 years experience. 6 Posts

An NP has to list all of his/her work history on the credentialing application when they apply for credentials. It can become quite tedious to add in all of the short term gigs that you’ve had. 

You’d probably keep about half of that $75k because of expenses and taxes. Stipends are taxed if you don’t use them though many travel nurses overlook this rule. I usually have an extra $400-$500 in taxes deducted if I do not use the stipends. 

On the whole, it may not be better paying then your full time job. I have certainly worked contracts that weren’t worth as much as my full time job. 

NedRN

NedRN

1 Article; 5,747 Posts

Credentialing is done by facilities who make their own protocols consistent with their licensing organization. There is no standard application that I'm aware of, and I'm quite sure all will accept accept a CV or work history supplied by the applicant. Much of the busy work of credentialing is supplied by the agency, pretty standard for physician and advanced practice agencies and head hunters. Credentialing is often less rigorous for many advanced practices who are not allowed the same autonomy by the practice state or individual facility.

Stipends*** You have a theory I haven't heard for decades. You appear to be referring to expense accounts where receipts have to be supplied for all costs incurred which are then reimbursed by the employer. This is not used by travel companies.

The IRS allows two different standards, and the one universally utilized by agencies allows stipends based on GSA tables of reasonable expenses per region if certain criteria are met: that the employee is working away from a legitimate tax home. This means costs that would not be incurred if working from home, such as housing, meals, and incidentals (and travel). With these conditions met, no accounting of how stipends are spent is required by the employee or employer to the IRS. 

There are gotchas, the big one being travelers (unfortunately encouraged by some recruiters) to use an address of convenience (usually a relative or friend) instead of maintaining a legitimate tax home. This can place those travelers into some jeopardy if they are later audited by the IRS. But using every dollar of a stipend and getting receipts is not one of them. This saves both companies and the IRS tremendous amounts of money not having to account for every penny and audit uncountable receipts, especially for business travelers who spend most of the year away from home.