If you have considered a career as a travel nurse, now may be a good time to start. According to USA Today, industry analysts say demand for travel nurses is at a 20-year high.
Travel nurses work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities in need of experienced, temporary help. Many institutions use them to fill gaps in staffing so they can better serve more patients. From teaching and research facilities to small local hospitals and healthcare centers, a wide variety of settings are in need of travelers at any given moment.
Strong Demand Gives Travel Nurses the Edge
Growth in demand over recent years is benefiting those working as travel nurses. Many nurses have their choice of hospitals, cities, schedules and even compensation. Even with this extensive growth, the need for travel nurses is expected to increase this year by an additional 10 percent. This rise in demand is due to a number of factors, including higher hospital admissions.
Nurses with experience in emergency departments, intensive care and other specialty areas are in particular demand. Healthcare facilities look for experienced nurses with excellent clinical skills. Travel nurses must be licensed in each state they work (about 20 states have reciprocity laws that expedite this process). Effective travel nurses also possess the following attributes:
- Positive outlook
- Eagerness to learn
- Quickly adaptable to a new clinical setting
According to a 2011 study by accounting firm KMPG, healthcare facilities historically turn to travel nurses during periods of seasonal demand. Places with a large influx of retirees, such as Florida and Arizona, feel this demand most, and tend to hire more travel nurses during the winter season to meet the increase in patients.
Good Times May Not Last
Though the need for travel nurses is currently high, the market is in a constant state of flux and even slight shifts can affect travel nurses’ career paths. In periods when demand is lower nurses may see the most desirable locations and positions diminish, limiting options. Unfortunately, predicting the highs and lows of the travel nurse market can be tricky. According to PPR Travel Nursing, nurses should watch for these early indicators of change:
- Slower hospital response time during the interview phase
- Greater competition with multiple candidates
- Reduction in travel nurses at current assignment
- Lower tolerance for non-clinical performance issues, leading to early termination
- Fewer incentive bonuses being offered
In addition to the impact of market trends, the financial situation of a hospital can also affect the job outlook for travel nurses. Since travel nurses can cost significantly more per hour than regular nurses, some hospitals would like to employ fewer travel nurses. Due to the constant battle between the need for more nurses and the need to stay within budgetary restrictions, many healthcare facilities are unable to employ the ideal number of travel nurses.
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