What Is A Contract?
A contract is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee. It may contain salary information, job requirements, length of employment required and benefits. Many hospitals who allow new grads to work in specialties will require the new graduate nurse to sign a contract. They may even offer a bonus such as $10000 when you sign. It is important to know that the hospital makes up their own contracts. Make sure the terms of the contract are clearly stated.
Make Sure You Read and Ask Questions!
Since the hospital is making up their own contracts you need to make sure you read that thing and then read it again! Create a list of questions and make sure you get your answers before you sign. Remember they are an organization and they are worried about their bottom dollar. Yes, it costs money to train new nurses and you may hear this again and again but remember they are a company and they are making money. So worry about your money! They can make it look and sound good on paper but what if the work environment is toxic? What if you loathe working there? Some important questions to ask include:
What happens if I break the contract early?
Will I have to pay back money and how much?
Can I transfer to another floor if the one I am hired on is not working for me?
What if I need to move?
Do you get raises during this time?
What is their retention rate and do they have a high turnover?
Is the contract vague or very detailed?
When does the contract time start? Does it start on orientation or once orientation is over?
Is the amount prorated and does this amount decrease every month?
What amount of contracted nurses stayed on their units beyond the required time frame?
There are a lot of questions to ask when signing a contract because this is a legally binding piece of paper. So do not take it lightly. That $10,000 sign on bonus as a new grad may sound appealing but in the end it may not be worth it. The hospital or unit you are on may not turn out to be a good fit for your personality. If you decide to sign the contract think about putting some money away with each paycheck just in case in the future you decide to leave before the contract is up. And please do not sign a contract until you have all your questions answered and you have weighed all your employment options.
Another option to think about is accepting a Medical Surgical position. Many times these units do not require the signing of a contract. Think about getting some experience and then transferring to the unit of our dreams. This way you are already working for the organization and you will not be required to sign anything. Whatever you decide make sure it is right for you and it is something you can live with.