The Covid-19 pandemic created a massive need for medical professionals, and career nurses were suddenly in high demand. But, as the demand for Covid hospitalizations stabilized, federal and state funding dried up, and contracts that were once lucrative and plentiful began to vanish.
According to NBC News, travel nurses are experiencing an abrupt change as they start to lose jobs, and rates decrease by as much as 50% mid-contract. These changes leave many people wondering what the future holds for travel nurses.
Covid-19 impacted our daily lives in so many ways, and the responsibility of nurses went into overdrive. Lawmakers are now discussing capping the travel nurse pay. But, even as the pandemic waxes and wanes, traveling nurses remain a priority. New travel nursing contracts are still available in areas throughout the US.
Travel nurses were an investment that facilities were willing to take during the Covid pandemic as nurses and doctors became sick, and nurses were asked to work grueling hours. Nurses typically made $1800 a week in 2019, but the pay jumped to $5000 a week for experienced ICU workers and travel nurses in some places.
Many career nurses began to take travel opportunities in crowded hospitals where Covid-19 patients urgently needed care. They were making double and triple what the staff registered nurses earned. But, while the increased pay was a positive side to the problem, nurses began to resign from their regular job to engage in travel nursing opportunities.
Nurses saw the pay increase during this challenging time as a positive reason to risk their lives caring for sick patients during the highly-contagious Covid pandemic. Now, lawmakers are considering capping pay for traveling nurses. As a nation, we are experiencing unprecedented changes as our economy rights itself after the pandemic.
Travel nursing agencies have reported pay drops and canceled contracts as hospitals lose Covid-19 State of Emergency Funding for travel nurses. Cancellations and reductions in pay have grown, and legal action is pending as travel nurses in multiple states see sudden pay drops mid-contract.
It is essential to read the fine print in travel nursing contracts. One nurse packed up her whole family and had her job canceled during the orientation. Lawyers state that travel nursing agencies should bear the burden of any mid-contract loss in pay rather than the nurse.
Many are confident that travel nursing is here to stay. The demand for healthcare staffing traditionally ebbs and flows, and travel nurse contracts end as new agreements begin. There will likely be changes as we adjust to the reduced nurse demand, but the nature of travel nursing is to remain flexible to meet the community’s needs.
Travel nurses are included in most hospital budgets because they offer many benefits. Travel nurses will continue to remain an essential part of our health system, as they provide facilities with benefits such as:
- Short-term staffing during busy seasons
- Coverage for full-time nursing staff during a sabbatical or leave of absence
- Higher rate of customer satisfaction
Hospitals benefit by hiring traveling nurses during hectic times rather than hiring additional full-time nursing staff, and this practice will continue. Travel nursing has played an integral part in the United States health system, and it is doubtful that it will go away altogether.
The demand for travel nurses decreased following the pandemic, and lawmakers suggested capping travel nurse wages. But will travel nursing go away?