By Megan Murdock Krishke, contributor
“The great thing about winter is that you have an increased seasonal demand for nurses,” began May Lane Harvey, senior recruiter for American Mobile Healthcare, an AMN Healthcare company. “We see a huge spike in need in Arizona, Southern California and also in Florida. Because of flu season, we also see increased demand for nurses in peds, PICU and NICU in many areas.”
Requests for travel nurses are at the highest levels since 2007, say top recruiters. That means this fall and winter season is an excellent time to start or resume your travel nursing career.
Many hospital leaders were initially wary about the potential ramificati\ons of the Affordable Care Act and so were conservative about spending money on labor, but those fears seem to have passed.
“Hospitals are learning that it is often more cost efficient to hire nurse travelers because they aren’t strapped with long-term benefits and they can easily alter their labor force to meet their needs,” stated Harvey.
Brandi Gallegos, senior recruiter for Medical Express, recommends new travelers apply for their California state nursing license right away because of the processing time and the large number of travel nurse jobs available.
According to Gallegos, there are travel nursing jobs available in nearly every setting: teaching hospitals, not-for-profit community hospitals, and Indian Health Service and VA hospitals.“ We have teaching hospitals that need 40 nurses and rural hospitals that need one nurse who can float to three units,” stated Gallegos. “That is the nice thing about travel, you can tailor it to what you like. If you like teaching and trauma, we have that. But, if you like a more community feel in a 100–200 bed facility, we can accommodate that, too.
As far as demand within specialties goes, ICU positions are often at the top of the list, followed by OR, ED and other critical care specialties. There are always orders for med-surg, telemetry and L&D nurses, as well.
“With the recession ending, people are having babies again. The demand for labor and delivery nurses is unprecedented,” remarked Harvey.
American Mobile Healthcare and Medical Express are also able to offer a number of exclusive contracts. “That means our nurses get interviews more quickly and there is less competition for the positions,” explained Harvey.
One of the hot travel nurse opportunities right now is electronic medical record (EMR) conversions. These are typically shorter assignments where a large group of travelers lighten the clinical load while staff nurses learn the new system. It is a great opportunity for travelers to become proficient in different software systems.
“One of my top tips for nurses is to get your California license in hand. It is taking up to 8 weeks for the state to process these,” recommended Gallegos. “Additionally, travelers should make sure they have updated their references and skills checklists. They need at least two references--but three is better--from a charge nurse or higher.”
Harvey agrees that The Golden State is a great place for travel nurses to start. “Right now we will reimburse nurses for travel expenses up to $300 to physically go to Sacramento, Calif., and apply in person for their state license because it speeds up the process so much.”
“Probably my best tip for someone wanting to get started in travel nursing is to start an assignment in December,” she continued. “A lot of the seasoned travelers will take a few weeks off this month and everyone is looking to get started again in January, creating a lot of competition for positions. Interestingly, you will probably still get your holidays off because most hospitals have already worked out their holiday schedules.”
“Strike while the iron is hot,” encouraged Harvey. “Hospitals are raising pay rates, but they won’t raise them forever. You have job security as a travel nurse and the market is in your favor right now.”
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