Explain the differences between travel nursing assignments and regular contract jobs in healthcare. Add some questions they should ask about – per diem pay or stipends, expenses reimbursements, etc.
There is a dire need for nurses in the United States. That was even before a global pandemic increased the caseload substantially in nearly every U.S. hospital. Today, we’re facing severe shortages predicted to worsen in the next decade. What’s the answer? While several solutions to the looming nursing shortages are in play, one, in particular, has grown exponentially during the pandemic. We’re talking about the rise of the travel nurse. A hit squad of one that travels to hospitals to help out during times of shortages. This blog will look at the profession of travel nursing, from the differences between the types of assignments, the pay, and more.
So, What Exactly is Travel Nursing?
Understanding Travel Nursing
Travel nurses are exactly what they sound like: Registered nurses who fly or drive to a distant healthcare facility to provide support. Many times, traveling nurses are employed by contract staffing agencies. The phenomenon came around in the 1980s but it was the global pandemic that facilitated the growth of these roles. According to Health Affairs, traveling nurse positions grew by 35% during the first year of the pandemic over the prior year. They predict these roles will jump by another 40% in the future.
Yet travel nursing is the exact opposite of a traditional full-time role. These positions are contracted short-term jobs, for one thing. TravelNursing.com reports most of these positions are around 13-weeks, but some run a month, and others as much as 26-weeks. Traveling nurses have specific skills such as acute care experience, which is as high in demand today as it is difficult to find.
Of course, there is travel involved; but many large health systems not only pay well but also put up their travel nurses in a hotel or other residence. This is all reimbursed, including the travel, of course. Benefits are usually offered through an employer of record (EOR) like FoxHire or a staffing agency.
On top of the perks of traveling to a distant location to check out the scenery, why would someone even consider the stress of taking on a traveling nurse role? One big reason is simple: You can make a tremendous amount of money as a travel nurse.
What and How Do Travel Nursing Positions Pay?
Health Affairs says, “One perk of travel nursing is the ability to potentially triple or quadruple an individual’s salary.” Before the pandemic nurses on-staff at hospitals earned around $73,000 annually in full-time roles. That’s about $1,400 a week. Compare that to today, where traveling nurses can make $5,000 to $10,000 a week.
With all that extra cash, traveling nurses have options. One of them is to take a week off in between assignments. Travel nursing allows new RNs to see the world and try out new facilities before settling down. Travel nurses work with some of the most prestigious institutions in cities that might be out of their financial reach under a regular nursing salary.