Industry Insights//February 01, 2021

Travel Nursing in 2021 – A Shift is About to Occur


Travel Nursing in 2021 is going to look a bit different than it has in years past. Here we talk about all the changes that are occurring in the travel nursing industry: the influx we’re seeing of more staff nurses moving into travel nursing jobs, a new 3-month open enrollment period for health coverage and how that will affect travel nursing and how and why hospitals are hiring differently than they did at the peak of the COVID pandemic.

Staff Nurses Leaving in Mass Numbers

During the peak of the COVID crisis staff nurses and travel nurses alike saw a huge shift occur in travel nursing pay, like contracts that were paying upwards of $10K a week in places like California.

While great news for seasoned travel nurses – many staff nurses felt that all they could do was sit and watch from the sidelines. What we heard from the ground was that staff nurses didn’t feel they could leave their staffing jobs because of a sense of loyalty they had to the hospitals in which they worked, especially hospitals that were severely understaffed during the peak of the COVID crisis.

What we’re seeing now is a huge exodus due mostly to two things: nurse burnout and the fact that travel nursing pay hasn’t dropped to pre-pandemic times, is still much higher than average, and the need for travel nurses continues to grow.

More insured. Better Economy. Increased Hospital Censuses.

President Biden just announced plans to allow more Americans to access healthcare with a 3-month sign-up period from February to May 2021. In addition, the economy is improving, and people are getting jobs back that they were being furloughed from.

With more people in the workforce, and more folks having healthcare – healthcare organizations and hospitals will start to see an influx in their census due to an increase in hospital visits and routine appointments: such as yearly check-ups, elective surgeries, urgent care, etc. Not only is this good for a hospital’s bottom-line, it’s excellent news for the travel nurse industry which will see an increase in the need for non-critical care healthcare workers.

More Qualified Nurses. Lowered Rates of Pay.

Over the last 4-5 months hospitals all over the country have desired any and every nurse possible, due to a nursing shortage. But we’re seeing a shift: as compared to the peak of the pandemic, hospitals are seeing things slow down a bit (but not quite down to pre-pandemic times) and no longer desire “any and every” nurse, rather “only” the best, most qualified nurses out there.

What does this mean for travel nurses? You will slowly start to see fewer and fewer crisis rates (although they will still be out there) and the same large and ever increasing pool of nurses that are only interested in crisis rates. So the competition is going to get steeper.

A Behind the Scenes Look into Crisis Contracts

The reality is that a nurse is going to get very few offers if they only submit themselves to the highest paying jobs out there.

You may ask: “Why? I’m super qualified. I deserve that job.” And we agree! All our nurses are super qualified and great at what they do – but here’s what happens from the hospital side:

They’ll advertise a high paying job, let’s just say a $7,000 a week ICU contract. The hospital will receive 30, 40, 50 qualified applicants. They will then think to themselves: Hmmm….maybe we can close this job posting, and repost it for a lower rate, save some money and still get qualified RNs. 

This happens all the time – because the hospitals are always worried about their bottom line. What this means for a nurse is that he or she just wasted their time and possibly missed a better, albeit lower paying, opportunity.

We try to communicate this to our nurses when we submit them to our highest paying jobs – because we believe it’s important to build relationships and trust with our nurses, give them the full picture, and land them that premier assignment.

In the scenario above – our nurses are never surprised when we come back and say: Hey, looks like that hospital just lowered their rates – are you still interested in that opportunity? Or: Hey, looks like they hired another nurse on that contract – but those other two hospitals I submitted you to, just sent you an offer!

If you’re interested in working with a travel nurse agency that will always give you the full picture, reach out to us today!

To see a sample of some of the hottest jobs we have available this week, click here to access our hot jobs page or here to see a full listing of all the jobs we have available.

Next Move Inc
Nurse First.
Nurse Powered.

(816) 601 -3800

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