Many nurses have fled the profession as a result of the COVID pandemic. Over two years into the crisis, many staff nurses are now looking to travel nursing as a means to relieve stress and earn a higher wage rate for their efforts.
The question is: can you blame them?
Nurses are leaving in droves
Arguably, the COVID crisis exacerbated the extreme shortage already evident in the profession. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there were already shortages predicted to be around the 175k mark for RNs by the year 2029. Now, several factors like nurse burnout, family needs, mental health, and bullying issues will further exacerbate the problem.
If I'm being frank, my wife and I, both RNs, are examples of precisely that.
With a combined 30 years of nursing experience, my wife currently is now in a nurse leadership role away from the bedside. And for me, well, I've been traveling for coming up on two years now as I type this.
The thing is, we're not alone. Many of the nurses we know and have known for years are also choosing to leave a traditional hospital role searching for greener pastures. And greener they certainly are.
But what does the data actually predict?
It's one thing to have a boots-on-the-ground perspective and quite another to point directly to stats and studies. Thus far, looking solely at statistics, the picture doesn't seem rosy at all.
In fact, it appears that the US will require a lot of nurses - and much sooner than later.
Nursing shortages will be exacerbated by current RNs retiring. These experienced RNs create learning gaps for new nurses. Triple that up with high turnover rates in the immediate aftermath of the epidemic, and we're not looking too bright. Clinics, hospitals, and healthcare organizations will need to collaborate with nurses to develop workplace environments that appeal to nurses who may be hesitant to rejoin their positions due to the pandemic.
Good thing, though, hospitals and leaders are aware of the nurse shortages that lie ahead.
According to Avant Healthcare Professionals, there are increasing open RN jobs among hospitals across the United States. Hospitals expecting staff nurse openings significantly increased over the next two years, from 2021 to 2023 and even beyond. Further, according to their research, by 2023 there will be nearly 80,000 nursing openings.
The numbers appear staggering.
Now what? Is travel nursing THE answer?
The truth is there is no one size fits all.
But that being said, looking into becoming a travel nurse may be just the career change many nurses are seeking. Plus, it may also be just what the proverbial doctor ordered to recover from that burnout created by the lingering pandemic.
With the ability to make more than you would as a staff RN, still have full benefits and also retirement accounts, plus the ability to travel while you earn, and what we have here is a wonderful, potential solution.
And one of the most beautiful parts of this all is if you don't dig the contract, then no worries. It only lasts 13-weeks, and you can move to the next one at will.
If you're an RN with prior hospital experience, travel nursing is a career move that is always open to you and allows for maximum job flexibility because it may be created literally on the go.
Only want to work half the year? You got it. Is your desire to work full time? You can do that too. Do you want to stick to warm, beachside locales? All you need to do is ask. You get to choose your next contract or stay in the current one when it comes to being a travel nurse.
That can be a great benefit, especially coming off the type of shortages that many staff nurses experienced during the pandemic.
The final word
Staff nurse burnout is driving more nurses than ever to turn to travel nursing. If you're an RN with prior experience, traveling nursing is a career move that allows for maximum job flexibility because it may be created literally on the go. When it comes to travel nursing, you get to choose your contract or stay in the current one.
Nurses are the critical backbone of healthcare delivery. With nurses in high demand, you can make more money and work in fantastic locations across the US.