This article was provided by Tailored Healthcare Staffing.
Travel nursing has become commonplace over the last year, and travel nurses are being brought in by more hospitals and healthcare facilities. There doesn’t appear to be an end in demand for nurses, as the shortage for nurses is expected to continue into 2030, according to a study by The University of St. Augustine.
So, instead of hiring full-time nurses, why are hospitals turning to travel nurses to fill their positions?
Seasonal, Short-Term or Crisis Staffing
In many parts of the country, tourism is their economy. People who live in colder weather climates flock to the warmer areas. Those in the colder areas, seasonal illnesses can impact hospitals due to increased visits.
During these seasonal variances, more nurses are needed to treat the demand for care – whether it’s the flu, pneumonia, or vacation-related accidents during those seasonal peaks in travel – like hiking or skiing.
Some areas of the country require nurses to fill critical assignments. The south has to contend with a 9-month hurricane season, so depending on the severity, hospitals will make the call for help. New Orleans could be a hotspot for the next several weeks as the region tackles the fallout of Hurricane Ida. The Delta variant of COVID-19 is over-populating ICUs. Areas with a higher senior citizen community may also require travel nurses to meet demand.
Hospitals may utilize travel nurses to fill a short-term void. They can provide relief to cover a nurse’s time-off or fill temporary roles in between full-time hires.
Hospitals may keep staffing on hand; however, they need to be ready to meet the demand. These 13-week travel nurse assignments are an efficient way to keep up with the surge.
Whatever the reason for an opening, time is of the essence, and the hospital needs to fill a position quickly. They don’t have the time to go through a lengthy interview process. That’s where a travel nurse and agency come into play. The agency has already vetted the nurse, so really, a quick interview is sometimes all that is required before an offer is extended.
As a traveler, hospitals will sometimes turn to you first to fill their positions. Travel agencies have an expansive pool of travel nurses at the helm to fill these specialty positions. Some of the specialties that are always in demand:
- Operating Room
- Emergency Room
Travel nurses can help hospitals fill these vacancies quickly – allowing them to provide the necessary care to their patients.
Travel nurses are not only an efficient way to quickly fill a position, but it’s cost-effective, as well.
It can be expensive to hire or replace a full-time nurse. On the surface, it’s not just the salary, but it’s all of the benefits and even onboarding and training time that’s involved. Hospitals are very budget-conscious.
Because hospitals reach out to travel nurse agencies, they don’t have to provide benefits that full-time nurses receive. Health insurance, PTO, retirement plans are typically not covered by the hospital. The costs associated with hiring another full-time nurse can go back into the hospital or diverted to the current staff on hand.
Time is just as important. HR doesn’t have to use hospital resources to post the jobs or coordinate schedules to conduct interviews.
Hospitals can use travel nurses to cover nurse shortages. Like any other industry, labor shortages can be a stress on hospitals, especially since people’s health is at stake, as opposed to waiting an extra five minutes for your dinner to be served.
There are many factors which can result in these shortages. With the COVID pandemic continuing to impact ICUs, burnout has been one of the top factors. Nurses may be unhappy with shift distribution and feel certain nurses might be getting the more desired shifts. General turnover, as well. Nurses might be leaving for better offers at a higher rate.
Nurse shortages directly impact the quality of care hospitals provide their patients. Hospitals in smaller towns or rural areas may feel it the most. The pool of applicants might be smaller in their area, so they reach out to travel nurses to expand their radius.
Travel nurses fill the void and help hospitals reach a sustainable level of labor.
Reduced Turnover and Overtime Costs
The cost to replace a nurse is high. According to Nursing World, it can cost up to $60,000 to replace a nurse.
If a hospital lets a nurse go or loses one to another hospital, they just aren’t losing a body. Some of the costs associated with turnover include payment for unused vacation, advertising and recruiting costs and interviewing and onboarding costs.
White, the travel nurse rate, may be a bit higher, hospitals still may come out ahead in the long run.
Travel nurses also reduce overtime. It’s difficult to project increases in patient-to-nurse ratios. In some areas, hospitals may plan ahead because of potential natural disasters, but when these emergencies happen, hospitals end up paying high overtime. Bringing on travel nurses can save hospitals on overtime.
Travel nurses allow hospitals to run more efficiently and maintain their quality of care while reducing their labor costs, fill open assignments and cover the gaps when demand increases. Travel nursing can be an exciting and fulfilling endeavor, as well. You’re able to travel where you want and use your special skills to make an impact on a patient’s life.