Q: Can I back out of a contract at any time before it starts? Does it matter if I haven’t signed the contract?
A: This can be a tricky subject to talk about. I have personally gone through this several times in my 7 years as a Recruiter and Account Manager. It can sting on our end, but I can understand there are 2 sides to every story.
There are obviously many reasons that could prompt someone to back out of a contract. Some are excusable like family emergencies and others that aren't so excusable. Ultimately, it is your choice. But, there are some things you should consider before you decide if you absolutely need to pull the plug. And, if you do, there's a certain way you should do it.
First, understand that you should never say “yes” to a position if you do not truly intend to start the job. Make sure you are 100 percent on board and committed to seeing it through. It doesn't hurt a recruiter's feelings if you say no to an offer.
The moment you verbally agree to the position, a process is started. Your recruiter will notify the client (most likely a large vendor handling staffing for many different hospital systems), they send you the contract to sign, and the credentialing process is started.
Upon word from the recruiter, the vendor notifies the hospital of the acceptance and they put you on the schedule to coordinate patient care. It takes a load off their mind to know they have coverage they have needed.
From that point, your travel company will spend hundreds of dollars to do credentialing such as your background check, drug screens, TB tests, etc.
If you suddenly decide you are backing out of the contract, everything comes to a screeching halt. The travel company loses money from credentialing and potentially has to pay a fee to the vendor for your back out. In addition, the travel company takes a hit to their reputation. Worse yet, the hospital loses the coverage and will then have to scramble to fill in the gaps left for them.
That all said, if you decide you truly cannot go forward with your contract, it’s important to be professional and notify your travel company.
Put bluntly, it is unacceptable to just end all communication as a way to notify them that you’re backing out. If you decide to “ghost” a recruiter, there is a huge chance you will be deemed not "re-hireable" by the travel company and perhaps the vendor/hospital system as well.
Simply put, remember the golden rule to do onto other what you would want done unto you.