With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people have been affected and many jobs have been displaced. However, travel nurse positions are in extremely high demand, and salaries for travel nurses have increased more in the past year than ever before.
The reason for all of this is because healthcare organizations have become slammed with an influx of new patients. This has caused them to move many of their regular nurses into COVID-19 wards, which has created voids throughout the healthcare system.
As a result, the COVID crisis has created the following unique scenarios for travel nurses where more opportunities exist and salaries have drastically changed.
It’s well-known that travel nursing normally pays higher than staffed nursing positions, but the gap between the two has widened even more because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the reason for this is because the main areas where travel nurses are needed are where new infections with the virus are raging.
Hospitals, clinics, and staffing agencies have increased their pay rates in these areas to ensure they had plenty of on-hand staff in preparation for a wave of new patients, and also to fill voids in nursing positions that were already taking place.
The pay increases in these areas are often referred to as “crisis pay”, and while this type of pay is directly linked to hotspots, it’s not the only type that has increased. Across the board, travel nursing pay has shot up because the impact on the healthcare system has been felt far and wide, even in areas where cases are still relatively low.
Gaps in Healthcare
Because the COVID-19 situation is dynamic and constantly changing, so too are the areas around the country where healthcare workers are desperately needed. Hotspots, where the virus is hitting the hardest, have changed and cropped up in different cities at different times. This has created a unique situation where it’s difficult for healthcare organizations to determine where help will be needed next.
What this means for travel nurses is that there’s a very high demand for workers who are both trained in healthcare and easily mobilized. Hospitals and clinics need nurses who can show up quickly as soon as help is needed. Some areas that weren’t previously hit severely by the virus had sent some of their staff members to areas where they were more needed.
In other cases, areas of healthcare that dealt more with non-COVID-related conditions were forced to lay off staff. This is because many of them received fewer patients due to stay-at-home-orders, and also because elective surgeries were put on hold in preparation for a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Now that transmission levels of the virus have decreased in some areas while increasing in others, the gaps in nursing positions have started to take place all across the country. Many regular RNs who chose to move to hotspot areas because of higher-paying opportunities have chosen to stay in these areas, leaving even more vacancies for their previous employers.
The Rise of Telehealth
Telehealth is the offering of healthcare services remotely using communication methods such as email, video conferencing, phone calls, and text messaging. Because of stay-at-home orders that are still ongoing in many areas, coupled with the fact that many people simply don’t feel safe visiting a doctor’s office, the telehealth industry has been booming this past year.
But while doctors can deliver services such as consultations and diagnosing conditions remotely, specimen collection and telemetry services are often much more difficult to arrange without being in the presence of the patient. This has created a surge in demand for travel RNs with telemetry experience.
Telemetry nurses normally measure the internal functioning of patients and check their vital signs. Although some organizations have opted to send equipment to patients’ homes so that they can do some of this themselves, it’s still not a completely viable solution in all circumstances.
In some cases, travel nurses may be needed to perform these types of services while working as a median between clinics and their patients. In addition to this, mass distribution of vaccines will be needed throughout the country, along with the nurses who know how to administer vaccine shots.
License Requirements Waived
With travel nurses being so desperately needed in hotspot areas, many states have waived their state licensure requirements for these nurses. Previously, out-of-state nurses had to be licensed in the states where they were going to work, even when only working short stints of less than a week.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many states into throwing these licensure requirements by the wayside temporarily. This has been done through the implementation of emergency amendments to their licensing laws. So, for travel nurses working in the field today, there is much less red tape involved when traveling to certain states.
This may have long-term implications because the COVID-19 pandemic is such an uncertain situation, even with the rollout of mass vaccinations. Many countries that successfully controlled their first wave of infections later saw a resurgence and a second wave. For this reason, many states don’t want to make the same mistake and underestimate the situation to where they might be left short-staffed again.
So, licensure requirements for out-of-state nurses are expected to be waived in many states for a long time to come, in addition to the increases in salary. In states where there are still licensing requirements, an agency like Trustaff RN travel jobs offer assistance in this area and reimbursement of fees.
Travel Nursing Opportunities
If you’re thinking about becoming a travel nurse, you’ve picked an excellent time to do so. trustaff RN travel jobs are available for nurses who are looking to fill healthcare voids caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to competitive pay, other benefits include opportunities to travel and see new places, unique job experiences that look great on a resume, and the chance to make a difference and save lives.