History of Travel Nursing · The Gypsy Nurse

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By Jogan Health

July 22, 2023



The History of Travel Nursing

Jogan Health provided this article.

When examining the history of travel nursing, one thing becomes glaringly obvious: it runs side by side with the history of nursing in general! Both professions were born at the same time – due to a high demand for professional and approachable assistance for patients – and both remain crucial today. During the COVID pandemic, for example, travel nurses became irreplaceable as a temporary solution measure against a virus that was ravaging healthcare providers almost as often as it was affecting patients.

But how did all this start? What are the major events that led to the modern version of our industry? How has it changed over the years? Read on below to answer these questions and more!

history of travel nursing

The History of Travel Nursing: A Timeline

Florence Nightingale and 37 other nurses are considered the first nurses in history. If you are a student of history, you will know that they were also the first travel nurses! When they sprang into action, they did so by traveling to Turkey to assist wounded English soldiers who were victims of the Crimean War. However, these women were not technically “travel nurses,” according to the mainstream definition of the phrase.

The emergence of the modern definition of travel nursing stems from New Orleans, Louisiana. During 1978 Mardi Gras Week, a time that is usually associated with festivities and community in the Pelican State, there was an unprecedented number of injuries. Due to local hospitals being overwhelmed by the massive number of patients, they began to contract nurses from all around the country to provide extra support for a few weeks.

Though this was the birth of the concept, it did not really kick off until a decade later. In the 1980s, the nursing industry was under threat for much the same reason as it is today: a nationwide nursing shortage. By the end of the decade, open travel nursing positions were widely available. They were recognized by the wider healthcare community as a cost-effective way for organizations to fill gaps in their roster and keep the ship afloat.

Travel Nursing in the Digital Age

We’ve come a long way since the ’80s. Nowadays, travel nurses are almost as common as traditional nurses. One of the major changes that facilitated this ubiquity is the advent of the internet. This digital age has empowered nurses to take control of their own careers. Many social forums and platforms now exist that offer placement and travel assistance, which makes the position more appealing than ever before. Jogan Health knows a thing or two about this and has made a traveling career possible for countless nurses all over the nation.

Key Takeaways

As we previously mentioned, the healthcare community had to deal with staffing shortages in the 80s and continues to do so today. While this might seem like a reason to leave nursing by the wayside as a career choice, it’s indicative of quite the opposite. Our industry has been through this before and will overcome this hurdle again. Nursing is here to stay, and regardless of how many times a shortage has threatened to end it, it has remained a viable source of work for people looking to care for others.

At its heart, the job is about spreading compassion and care as far and wide as possible. What better way to do that than to hop on a plane, see a new city, and help save the lives of those you have never met? Empathy is a cornerstone of human experience, and few professions exemplify it to such a degree. So long as we remain human, so long as the health of others continues to concern us, and so long as we are willing to help our fellow man, nursing will not go away.

It might change, as it did when the digital age began, and it might adapt to shifting circumstances, such as patient influxes, but the truth is that, so long as people need care, nurses will be a part of our communities. With a world where traveling has become more and more common, this is also true for travel nursing specifically. So, if you are a nurse or travel nurse, we encourage you to stay on course. You will always be one of the most important parts of any community. And to think this all started with a wild Mardi Gras party!

We hope you found this article on the history of travel nursing helpful. Did we miss anything of importance? Comment below.

Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.

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