When interviewing for and negotiating my first contract I did some things well, and others not so much. It's important to note that how you negotiate your contract will change depending on what setting you are in. For my first placement, I was in Home Health and there are key aspects I missed my first time around.
Main takeaway: Contract. Contract. Contract.
First, let's start with what I did well:
• Pay: I got my pay lined up, (hourly rate, reimbursement rate on mileage, frequency of pay, per diem, housing stipend, etc.) and that has all been perfect and seamless.
Next, let's hit what I did wrong:
• Everything else: Everything that was verbally agreed to during my interview with the actual Home Health Agency that I'm working with has been altered, reversed, or completely ignored. In other words, if it's not in writing, it doesn't stick.
Bottom line: If it is not written in your contract, do not count on it happening.
1. Coverage area:
In original discussions with the Home Health agency (note: NOT the staffing company) I was told that I'd be working in the town that I was living (Lake Havasu City) and another town about 40 miles away. Within 3 weeks, I no longer had a single patient in the town I was living, and the town 40 miles away was actually just the headquarters for all of La Paz County, AZ. This lack of clarity on area I was working had some serious implications on the distance I had to drive to see patients.
2. Approximate milage per week:
Since the Home Health company withheld information on my coverage area, that meant that I was driving between 750 - 1,100/week when I'd verbally agreed to only 160/week. This meant more time spent driving than treating patients. Again, I am being reimbursed for my mileage which increases my weekly pay, but it was not the deal I agreed to and it makes for a very monotonous day.
Advice: Especially if you are working in Home Health and know that you are going to be driving, ask HOW FAR you will be driving and get that mileage estimation written into your contract.
Side note: I incurred some heavy vehicle repair costs (over $1,300.00) and I spoke with my traveling company about extra reimbursement. It's a good idea just to ask about this type of assistance even if they don't cover the entire bill.
3. OASIS Starts of Care (this will make sense to the therapist readers)
This was one of the biggest talking points I wanted to hit in my interview because I learned in Grad School what a BEAST they were to complete and I knew that wasn't a burden I wanted to take on. Lucky for me (I thought) my interviewer informed me that I would NOT need to worry about it because the nurses opened up all starts of care. 6 weeks in, an OASIS start of care was put on my schedule. When I informed the scheduling department that this was not a task I needed to do, they informed me "Yes, it is." Without any training whatsoever, I was told to "Just go out there and do it." Of course, I messed it up royally, making rookie mistakes with paperwork and procedure that potentially could have put my license at risk. Because my it was not specifically written in my contract that I did not need to perform starts of care, they were allowed to dictate that I do it.
Advice: Anything you are uncomfortable doing, not only make sure to ASK about it during your interview, but get the outcomes of that conversation written in your contract.
An important note here: I work for a medical staffing company who contracts me to the actual hospital, clinic, or agency in need. Those hospitals, clinics, or agencies pay my staffing company, who in turn pay me.
The interaction with my staffing company has been great. On the other hand, the Home Health Agency who I contract with has been the body that has taken advantage of verbal conversations vs. written commitments.
Moral of the story: What I should have done post interview with the Home Health Agency was reconnect with my staffing company and update my contract with all verbal agreements discussed in that interview.
ABOUT THE AuthorS
A Travel Therapist and Remote Worker documenting their professional travels and pictures for family, friends and other wanderers.