What To Do If Your Travel Nursing Contract Gets Canceled

August 3, 2023


Megan Bebout


There’s nothing like the rush that takes over your body when your travel nurse recruiter tells you they’ve found you a job. The scary version of that? The pit in your stomach if you ever find out your travel contract's been canceled. Whether your travel nurse contract was canceled on you or you’re the one doing the canceling, this is what you need to know.

What To Do If Your Travel Nursing Contract Gets Canceled


Why do travel nursing contract cancellations happen?

Let’s be real — it sucks when your travel contract gets canceled. But unfortunately, travel nurse contract cancellations happen. And there's no one answer, there could be plenty of reasons why.

Ever heard of “at-will employment”? Hospitals and other medical facilities can cancel travel nurses and allied travelers “at-will,” meaning your contract could be canceled at any time for any reason by the healthcare facility, with no recompenses for you. For example, a common reason for contract cancellations is abrupt census changes, where a hospital goes from being "understaffed" to "overstaffed" to "no longer requiring your impressive skills."

On the other hand, maybe you’re the one interested in canceling a travel nurse contract. If so, watch out. If you aren't careful, you could earn a spot on the travel nurse blacklist. And if you’re blacklisted from working at hospitals or other medical facilities, it could negatively affect your career as a successful travel nurse. And we don’t want that.

How to get out of a travel nursing contract (the right way)

What if something changed for you right before you were about to start your next travel nurse assignment? Maybe there was a family emergency, or you were diagnosed with a major illness, or you won the lottery — whatever the reason, you have to cancel your travel nurse contract early.

Here’s how you do it the right way.

Communicate with your travel nursing recruiter

It can be tough to talk about something like this. But your travel nursing recruiter has your back, even if you’re quitting a travel assignment. (Although it's best if you can find another option!) The important thing is that you communicate your needs and give notice of your travel nurse contract cancellation.

By communicating and providing notice to your recruiter and travel nursing agency, you give them time to notify the hospital or healthcare facility and potentially find a replacement. On top of that, your nursing recruiter can give you valuable advice and refer you to other travel assignments that may align more with what you want.

So, if you want to cancel contracts, first call your staffing agency recruiter. Having this conversation will allow you to maintain a positive relationship with your nursing recruiter and ensure that your contract cancellation is as smooth as possible.

Be honest about why you’re ending your contract early

When you call your nursing recruiter to tell them you want to cancel your contract, make sure you’re honest about why. If it’s a personal reason you’d rather not disclose, feel free to say just that!

Just know that you are valid for considering the ethics and safety concerns of the job. You should never be put in a situation where you feel like you have to compromise your career as a medical professional in the health system.

Being open and transparent about why you’re unhappy at your travel nurse job not only helps you preserve the recruiter relationship but also gives them the chance to brainstorm ways to come to a mutually beneficial solution. That way, all parties involved win.

Don’t ghost on your travel nurse assignment

You’ve heard of ghosting in terms of dating, but did you know that ghosting applies to the professional world, too? Pro tip: ghosting is the worst thing you can do as a traveler.

According to healthy psychology professor Dr. Wendy Walsh, there are different levels of ghosting that can happen: lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight. Lightweight ghosting is a slight maneuver that makes a point of power. For example, you and your friend got into a fight, and they didn’t text you back.

Midweight ghosting is when you’ve been around or talked with someone a handful of times and then you avoid them. This could happen when you’ve been on a few dates with someone, realize they’re not the one for you, and never talk to them again.

Lastly, heavyweight ghosting is when you’ve developed a deep connection with someone and then ignore them without explanation. Imagine being in a long-term long-distance relationship and then one day your partner just stops talking to you.

Ghosting extends to the professional world and has become a surprisingly common employment trend throughout the years. Midweight ghosting seems to be the most popular kind of ghosting when it comes to travel nursing. Many times, travel nurses apply for a new travel nurse assignment, then never speak to their recruiter, skip a job interview with a medical facility, or worst-case scenario, don’t show up for their first day at their travel job.

Ghosting in your personal life is one thing, but ghosting on a job is another. In addition to being highly frowned upon, ghosting with virtually no warning on your travel assignment can cause serious damage to your nursing career and reputation. Even worse, you could earn a spot on the travel nurse blacklist, which may prevent you from being considered for future employment opportunities with other healthcare professionals and facilities, staffing agencies, and other future employers.

Don’t jeopardize your professional reputation. Instead, simply communicate with your recruiter and let them know what’s going on.

How to lessen the impact of a travel nurse contract cancellation

So, you just got word from your nursing recruiter that your travel contract has been canceled. Now what are you supposed to do?

Our best advice is to adapt to the situation. As you know, flexibility is the key to a successful travel nursing career. Dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and prepare to find another travel job. Luckily, your recruiter will work with you to quickly get you placed with a new nursing contract.

Regardless of how your contracts get canceled, depending on the terms and conditions of your contract, you could have some unexpected travel expenses on your hands. To be sure, consult your travel nurse contract to see what the cancellation clause says. In some cases, you could be responsible for fees incurred for housing, travel, certification, and nursing license. If you’re unsure, reach out to your rockstar recruiter for a helping hand.

Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility that your contract could get canceled. That’s why it’s so important to fully read your contract before signing so you know what to expect if it happens to you. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to lessen the impact of a contract cancellation. Here’s what you can do to make a contract cancellation a little easier on yourself.

Maintain a savings account

Having a savings account to fall back on can really save you when something unexpected happens, like a canceled travel contract. Losing a job can have serious repercussions on your bank account.

For instance, maybe you paid a huge sum upfront for your own housing arrangements and now you’re unable to get it all back, or perhaps you have plane tickets that now need to be changed — needless to say, your bank account can take a hit when you’re without a travel nurse assignment. To help make it easier to cover expenses, save money to build up your savings account, and continue to add to it as much as you can.

Work with a travel nursing agency and recruiter you trust

Life is less stressful when you know you're covered. And when you travel with Fusion Medical Staffing, you know that’s always the case. Working with a travel nurse company and a recruiter whom you can trust, who are easily accessible, and who have your best interests at heart can make the experience of contract cancellation or quitting a travel assignment less dramatic.

Imagine if your travel contract got canceled and your recruiter was hard to reach or completely unreachable. Or what if you want to cancel and your recruiter takes forever and a day to reply to your burning questions? Neither is a great scenario. Instead, recognize those red flags, dodge those bullets, and make sure you work with people you trust to take care of you.

Related: What Healthcare Travelers Love About Fusion Medical Staffing Recruiters

Lean on your support group

Life is tough, whether you’re a travel nurse or an allied health traveler. And when you’re in the downward swing on the rollercoaster of life, maybe because your contract was canceled or wasn’t what you expected, then lean on your support system to bring you back up.

Your support system may be a spouse or romantic partner, a parent or other family member, a BFF, or a group of fellow healthcare professionals. No matter who that is, reach out to your people and ask for their help to get through this tough time. You’d be amazed at the difference your support system can make.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if you break a nursing contract at Fusion Medical Staffing?

So, what happens if you cancel a contract with Fusion Medical Staffing? Whenever an assignment ends for any reason prior to a contracted end date, there's an internal review process to determine your employment eligibility. During this review, Fusion Medical Staffing asks that you provide a detailed statement of events and gather information from the recruiter and client manager regarding the reason for the assignment ending. Depending on the situation, the Fusion Medical Staffing review board may also request a statement from healthcare facilities. The board then uses all the information to determine the next best move.

I hate my travel nurse assignment. What do I do?

It’s never fun to work a less-than-ideal travel contract, but it can happen. The good news is if you find yourself in that position, there are steps you can take to make it more bearable.

The most crucial thing you can do if you hate your travel nursing assignment is talk to your recruiter. While they may not be able to solve all the problems you’re facing, they might be able to work with the facility to make it more bearable for you while you’re there.

Alternatively, as a Fusion Medical Staffing travel nurse, the clinical team is on your side. Made up of a group of nurses, this team knows first-hand the struggles you may face while on an assignment and can provide a listening ear, advice, or problem-solving techniques. Every travel assignment you work on may not be a winner, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

Can you cancel a travel nurse contract before it starts?

Yes! If a travel nurse cancels a contract before it starts, the exact details on how to do this will depend on the particular details of your cancellation clause, and all travel nursing contracts are different. Generally, you’ll need to provide written notice to your travel nurse agency and recruiter and in some cases, may have to pay a fee. To avoid contract cancellations, thoroughly review your travel contract before signing.



If you find yourself in a position where your services have been canceled or you need to break your travel nurse contract, make sure you communicate your needs and intentions to your staffing agency and nursing recruiter, and don’t be afraid to be honest. Life happens — we're here to help you find the best fit.