Travel Nurse Bonus: Sign-on Completion and Referral

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By The Gypsy Nurse Staff

September 25, 2017

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Travel Nurse Bonus: Sign-on Completion and Referral

Many travel nursing companies offer bonuses, including sign-on, completion, and referral bonus, as well as other incentives.  These bonuses can be good, bad, or anywhere in between.  To figure out the good and bad of a bonus, you must first know why the bonus is being offered for the particular contract.

Most of the time, “bonuses” are gimmicks to get your attention, to entice you to sign on the dotted line.  I question and scrutinize a position if it offers a bonus of any kind.  If it sounds too good to be true. . . well, you know the drill.

Why do hospitals offer a Sign-on Bonus?

  • The most common reason for a sign-on bonus is difficulty filling positions.  If a hospital is having difficulty filling a position to the point that they are offering huge bonuses, the contract may be dangerous or license threatening.
  • The mass exodus of staff.  This sometimes occurs when there has been a recent change in management, policies, or other internal issues.
  • Opening of a new unit, ward, or wing. This is probably the best of the bonuses, but it too can come with issues. When a hospital opens up a new unit, ward, or wing, it can be full of problems, from non-functioning or non-existent equipment and supplies to a lack of management.

Why do hospitals offer Completion Travel Nurse Bonus?
The most common reason for a completion bonus is due to previous experience of travelers that do not complete the contract. I personally avoid these like the plague.

Why do agencies offer referral bonuses?
This one is simple. Travel nurse staffing agencies offer referral bonuses to make money. Every traveler they have on the contract is making them money. This is the entire reason that travel nurse staffing agencies exist. I have received a few of these during my travel nursing career. I would caution you to make certain that you feel that you can stand behind the company or recruiter if you refer them to another traveler. Don’t give a referral just for the bonus.

Keep in Mind

  • Bonuses are taxed at a different rate (higher) than your hourly pay.
  • Find out when the bonus will be paid out. A sign-on bonus may or may not be paid with your first check. A completion bonus will not necessarily be paid on your final paycheck; sometimes, these take several weeks.
  • Some bonuses are negated if you call in a shift and do not make up the hours. Make sure that you know all the details.
  • Please don’t make any assumptions when it comes to bonuses. Ask.

I always recommend that you research the Travel Nurse staffing agency.  Trust in your company can sometimes be much more priceless than any bonus.

Have you worked a position with a bonus?  What was your experience?  Was it ‘all that glitters, is not gold,’ or was it a good experience?

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