Extending a Contract.
As a travel nurse you get into a routine of moving every 3 months and going somewhere new. But sometimes the opportunity may present where you are offered to extend a contract out longer in a place. There are many, many reasons why you should or should not extend a contract. For those of you that may not have the best experience at a hospital, enjoy the city where you are living, or happen to have a not so fantastic home away from home; this may be the reason for relocating and rearranging a new contract somewhere else. If you enjoy your work assignment and love the city you are currently living in, but not your roommates or living situation, look online through Furnished Finders or Travel Nurse Housing to help you find somewhere new to live in the same city. If you don’t like the city or area in general, then it is probably time to move on.
I won't lie. Every time my contract end date is approaching, I begin to panic. The stress of interviewing, signing a new contract, moving, finding a place to live, going through orientation and all the online learning modules can be overwhelming. I don’t know anyone who enjoys moving. It takes so much time, work, and energy. Packing everything into boxes, lifting all of them, and carrying each up and down flights of stairs is exhausting. Boxes are heavy, and sometimes, no matter how hard you try by labeling them to keep everything organized, you may find yourself misplacing things you needed and now are unable to find. Then you have to figure out how to fit everything in your car or moving vehicle. Constantly rearranging like a game of Tetris. As a travel nurse you learn to live out of a suitcase and be minimalist because of these frequent moves, but as a traveler you will always acquire more items to take with you along this journey.
If you find a good living situation and a great place to work, it makes the decision to stay and extend a contract so much easier. Extending a contract will save you money in the long run. Not having to move and take time off between contracts will mean more money in your pocket and a whole lot less stress in your life. Also, there is wiggle room for negotiating in a new contract. The hospital is saving money not orienting a new hire. You are already familiar with the staff, the flow of the unit, and the policies of that hospital network. So take advantage of this. If there are certain dates you would like off, request them, or if it’s possible to get a little extra cash, go for it! It is easier to make plans ahead of time if you know you are extending a contract. The flexibility in knowing your schedule ahead of time will save you money in the long run, especially when traveling is involved. Extending allows you to know where you are going to be months in advance. So, go ahead and book that international flight or plan that big vacation. Remember, planning ahead allows you to save!
Each hospital is different, but my current hospital will allow a nurse to extend up to nine months before requiring a managers approval to stay longer. I have heard from others that some places will allow you to extend up to a year or maybe two! Take advantage of this. Aside from saving money, it also gives you the opportunity to explore more of an area. So use your time wisely. It’s like you are a full time employee, but you’re getting paid better, with more flexibility.
The longer you live somewhere, the easier it is to navigate around a city and know your way around. By three months, you may have found a favorite coffee shop and/or hiking trail. Staying in a city longer allows you to really feel more like a local and see so much more than a typical thirteen weeks would allow, clearly. I love being able to navigate around a city without using GPS. Something about it makes me feel comfortable and free. Extending with give you more familiarity within a city.
Sometimes life happens. You will meet some great people and eventually, will want to make a home somewhere. Most travelers don’t travel their whole career. But, I do know a lot of nurses that have found a home in one of the cities they have lived while traveling or signed on to work full time through a hospital they worked at because they loved the people they worked with and the area that much. One acquaintance travelled to Montana on her first travel assignment and never left. Eventually her whole family, parents and sister moved to Montana too, because they all fell in love with the area. Traveling for work is so unpredictable. One of my current coworkers said she met her husband while she was traveling which caused her to end up staying.
There are so many reasons why you should or shouldn't extend a contract as a traveler and stay in a city working for a hospital longer. Only you know what is in the best interest for yourself. Luckily, as a traveler you are in control of where you want to be. In the meantime, if you like a place extend awhile first and see what happens. Your options are endless!