There is a rapidly increasing demand for travel nurses, even before the pandemic. The nationwide nursing shortage over the past several years has led to a significant increase in requests for specially trained nurses to deploy where needed, often in response to a flu outbreak, weather emergency, etc. In 2018-19, according to national survey data, there were 31,000 travel nurses working nationwide. Today, there are over 50,000 travel nurses in the U.S.
“Travel nurses have been part of the healthcare system for decades. Some were just seeking adventure, some flexibility. Right now, there are an estimated 50,000 travel nurses in the U.S.,” as stated in “As the Pandemic Continues, Demand for Travel Nurses is Up. Pay Keeps Rising Too.”
Louise Weadock, founder of ACCESS Nursing Services, created the COVID Care Force at the start of the pandemic. The COVID Care Force now includes over 1,500 travel nurses from across the U.S. that treat patients suffering with the virus in hospitals located in COVID hotspots.
Weadock explains, “ACCESS Nursing has been flooded with requests for ICU, ER, OR, SW, Floor Unit and Rehab nurses in hospitals, nursing homes, community-based organizations and large corporations to fill the enormous need for nurses to triage and test.”
Travel nurses are extremely compassionate, caring and flexible individuals, says Weadock. In What It’s Like to Be a Nurse Working on the Front Lines of COVID-19, Weadock says, “These nurses are humans with hearts. These are humans with kids and families and homes that they can’t take care of right now because they have such a hardwired heart to care, they have to go out into this storm. It’s just… that’s how they’re wired.”
Weadock says that her company is continuously recruiting for both seasoned travel nurses looking to accept a new contract or RNs looking to take advantage of the high demand for travel nurses. Here are some key factors to check out in selecting your next travel nurse assignment:
- What Kind of Training is Offered to Travelers? Orientations and short-term mentoring are offered before a travel nurse takes over patient care on their own. Orientations help traveling RNs familiarize themselves with a specific hospital and its policies. It is important to ask about orientation and shadowing opportunities early on as these experiences vary in length and depth depending on your assignment.
- What is Your Floating Policy? Since travel nurses work to fill staffing gaps, you should expect to be asked to float between units. Asking about floating details up front will help you enter your new assignment with confidence. Travel nurses should only float between units in which they have the proper experience.
- Do You Extend Contracts for Travelers? You will definitely want to know if it is possible to extend your contract before it ends. Make sure that you ask your recruiter about the possibility of an extension before accepting the position, and again halfway through the assignment.
- Do You Offer Referral Bonuses? It always makes sense to ask if there is a referral bonus so that you can share news of great opportunities with a friend!
ACCESS Nursing Services is currently recruiting experienced healthcare professionals in various locations throughout New Jersey and New York. Visit ACCESS Nursing Services’ website to find the travel nursing opportunity that is right for you.