Written by Travis Kemper, PT, DPT
Should I stay or should I go now?
How do you know when to extend a contract or when to move on? There is no definitive answer to this.
My fiancée Julia and I have extended contracts anywhere from 2 weeks in order to better accommodate our travel plans, to a full thirteen weeks at one contract. In general, we have found that we are usually ready to move on at the thirteen week point whether we extended or not. In all cases of extensions, we have been persuaded to stay partially by the facility having a desperate need for PT coverage.
In the future, we will only extend if it is in our best interest, and we will always ask for an increase in pay with an extension. Thus far we have gotten up to $200 net per week bonus pay with an extension.
Know Your Preferences
An extension is always a personal decision, and you need to know yourself. Many times a facility will approach you very early in the contract for an extension, so you need to understand your own preferences.
If you are like us, you may get an itch to leave starting about 10-12 weeks in. Extending causes that itch continue for the entire extension period.
However, many travelers, such as Jared and Whitney, find they would rather do 4-6 month contracts, or even up to 1 year so they can get comfortable with the position and location before they move on, as well as earn guaranteed money and not have to deal with the hassle of moving. If that is you, extending can be a great way to earn some more money and have a little more stability in your life.
Signs That The Facility May Want an Extension
Sometimes you can get a feel during the interview if the facility is the type to want a traveler to extend or not. You can also sometimes get a feel for whether they are likely to keep you for the duration of your contract or if there’s a possibility your contract could get cut short.
If you can find out the reason why they need a traveler in the first place, that will give you a good idea. For example, maybe it’s a rural area and they have been using travelers back to back for a year or more. In that case, there’s a good chance you could stay there longer if you wanted to. Or maybe it’s not a rural area, and they’re still using travelers back to back and can’t find a permanent employee. Maybe then you should be hunting for reasons why they can’t keep permanent staff.
On the other hand, if someone just quit and they are rapidly trying to find a permanent employee and conducting permanent interviews, there’s a chance they might cut your contract the first chance they get when someone permanent is hired. This also might not be an ideal situation for you, especially if you are traveling a long way to take the job.
It’s a good idea to feel out these things early on, as it can definitely give you a good indication of what type of situation you’re getting into as a traveler. But, don’t always fear the rotating-traveler, begging for you to extend facilities. They’re not all bad, and you could have a great experience there and want to extend.
Do you have questions about contract extensions? Send us a message and we can chat! Want to tell us about an experience you had with a contract extension? Leave a comment below!