Becoming A Travel Nurse During A Pandemic

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Travel Nurses can experience some remarkable benefits that are unique to a contract position; however, there are also some stark challenges travel nurses experience that staff nurses often do not.  Some of these challenges are amplified during an era where the country is experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.  How does the current dynamic appear in the days of COVID19, and what does the future have in store?

Since the 90’s many hospitals and healthcare systems have struggled with staff shortages and budget shortfalls.  These organizations have found remedy in hiring temporary hospital staff to fill in the gaps, leading to a workforce of contract nurses that currently numbers approximately 50,000.

Travel nurses had typically chosen the contract career path because it provided a sense of adventure and offered flexibility; however, the emergence of the COVID 19 pandemic intensified the demand for contract nurses resulting in weekly wages that can reach as high as $8,000.  Contract nurses also often receive additional perks like housing and food stipends.

As the pandemic unfolded, Veronica O’Kane, a staff ICU Nurse working in Southfield, Michigan, found herself experiencing the same hardships that many others in the U.S. have.

“I didn’t really feel like I was making much money at all,” she said. “I was just always living paycheck to paycheck, and kind of starting to drown in debt a little bit.”

After meeting travel nurses at her hospital and learning of the benefits they receive, she took the leap and became one herself.  She worked for a few weeks in Maryland, then worked a longer stint in Texas and is currently in Greenbay, Wisconsin.  During her time as a travel nurse she found her compensation increase to over double the rate she was receiving at her former staff job in Michigan.  Veronica felt a sense of pride in her ability to provide for herself and family; furthermore, she was able to pay off nearly $40,000 in debt after several months being a travel contract nurse.

There are many items to consider prior to becoming a travel nurse / healthcare professional:

Do I have the required experience?

  • Most contract assignments require a minimum of 1 – 2 years of recent, related experience in the practice setting and specialty the assignment specifies.

Do I have the appropriate licensure for the assignment location?

  • Appropriate state of compact license
  • Many states are now offering emergency licenses and/or expedited temporary licenses due to the pandemic

What is my flexibility in assignment requirements?

  • The more flexibility with the following items will provide a larger list of assignment options:
    • Shift
    • Location
    • Schedule
    • Compensation
    • Start availability
    • Length of assignment

Still interested in becoming a travel nurse / healthcare professional or if you’d like to learn more, please contact us @ 714-243-4104 and ask to speak with a medical staffing recruiter or please complete this short form and recruiter will contact you ASAP to answer any questions you might have.