Nursing
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How Long Are Travel Nurse Assignments?

How Long Are Travel Nurse Assignments?

The average travel nursing assignment is 13 weeks, but they can vary from 8 weeks to 26 weeks, and some assignments will stretch beyond those timelines.

Timelines are very important when it comes to travel nursing. The shorter they are, the more they will interfere with your life as it'll feel like you're constantly moving around. But at the same time, if they are too long you could lose out on tax benefits.

How Long Can A Travel Nurse Stay In One Place?

According to the IRS, a job is classed as temporary if it lasts for 12 months or less.

It's very rare for travel nursing assignments to get anywhere near that, but the actual length of these jobs can vary and as nursing shortages continue and the demand for travel nurses rises, it's likely that we'll see more variety with regard to assignment length.

How Long Are Most Travel Nursing Assignments?

Traditionally, the purpose of travel nursing was to fill the gaps created by seasonal nursing shortages. The standard contract was just 13 weeks, after which the assignment ended, the travel nurse left, and the process started all over again.

These days, it's not uncommon for nursing assignments to extend to 6 months or longer. The shortages are year-round, not just seasonal, and more nurses are accepting extensions and choosing to spend more time in a single location.

As a result, while the "average" is still around 13 weeks, an actual travel nursing assignment could run anywhere from 8 weeks to over 6 months.

Can I Stay For More Than a Year?

There are travel nurses who have remained in one location for a year or more. As noted above, stories of short-term positions extending into the long-term are increasingly common.

However, there are a few issues with this.

Missed Opportunities

If you accept an extension and stay in one place for long periods of time, you may be missing out on other opportunities.

One of the many benefits of being a travel nurse is that you get to move around, exploring different towns and cities. You could be sunning it up in Los Angeles one minute and bracing against the New York winter the next. Of course, you're there to work and not to enjoy a vacation, but you'll still have a lot of free time to enjoy yourself and see the sights.

You could also be missing out on higher pay rates and bigger bonuses, including the cash sums that some travel nurse agencies pay at the beginning and end of a contract.

Time Away From Your Loved Ones

Needless to say, if you're working away from your friends and family, a long assignment will also prolong the time that you spend away from them.

Of course, if you don't have any kids to go back to and your partner/pet is with you, then it may be preferable to spend a longer time on assignment.

Rental Contracts

If you are living in housing provided by the travel nursing agency, you shouldn't have any issues. They can merely extend your lease and continue to provide you with amenities offered thus far.

If you're living in rented accommodation and using your housing stipend to pay the bills, it's a different story.

Most extended stay hotels will be happy to prolong your stay and the same is true for vacation rentals, including those found on Airbnb. But you could encounter issues if your rental extends into tourist season in a busy tourist area.

If you're renting a house or apartment on a short-term lease, you will need to extend the lease, and that could come with its own costs and risks.

It's not a huge problem, but it's something to consider and plan for.

Tax Problems

As a travel nurse, you will be given a number of tax benefits. Along with the constant traveling and exploration, it's one of the best things about the job.

By limiting your movement and staying in one place, those benefits may disappear.

The IRS won't consider you to be a temporary worker if you're accepting contracts that last for more than 12 months. As a result, your tax home will become your assignment state, as opposed to the state that you return to.

When you lose tax home, many of the benefits you receive will become taxable, effectively reducing your income.

Of course, tax is never straightforward. It's something that no one looks forward to and many employees can't wrap their heads around. If you are unsure about the tax implications of your career, contact your travel nursing agency recruiter. They can answer any questions that you have and will provide guidance as needed.

No Time Off

As a travel nurse, you're in a very unique position in that you can take time off between assignments. If you agree to a long-term contract and keep renewing it, you could lose some of those benefits.

If you complete a couple of short-term contracts and feel stressed and over-worked, just take some time off. You are well within your rights to do so, and it's the perfect opportunity to relax, recuperate, and reenergize.

Use this time to relax, go on vacation, spend some time with family, or just put your feet up for a couple of weeks.

Summary: Travel Nurse Assignment Length

As you can see, the length of time that you spend on assignment can vary, and it ultimately comes down to what the facility needs and how long you're prepared to work.

Just remember, if you're thinking about accepting an extension and spending more time on assignment, there could be consequences.

If you really like working in a particular city or facility, you could always return at a later date. Alternatively, look into the tax issues, consider the contract extension, and weigh up the pros and cons to determine the best course of action.