Why Travel Nursing Jobs Are Booming


Travel nursing companies have an unprecedented number of jobs across the country

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

Travel nurses are in high demand, thanks to a confluence of positive factors affecting the health care industry. And that means that travel nursing companies and their clinicians are staying busier than ever.

“The increased demand has been extraordinary,” said Randle Reece, a senior research analyst with the investment firm Avondale Partners in Nashville. “There’s a natural increase in the number of insured people with continued employment growth.”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance mandates starting in 2014 played a role, Reece said, as does an aging healthcare workforce. Additionally, with the improved economy, more nurses may cut back on their hours, which can lead to more positions that need filled--and eventually more travel nursing jobs.

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There are several factors contributing to the high demand for travel nurses.

“When nurses reach age 55, they tend to exit the hospital workplace at an accelerated rate,” Reece said, reporting that the job openings in 2015 were up 30 percent, year over year. “The time to fill [positions] has extended really quickly. … When you have an extended vacancy in a geographic location or specialty, getting someone to travel there to fill the void on a contract basis is one of the few options you have, other than living with it.”

Reece said while hospitals have tried starting their own flex pools, it has become more difficult. They may hire recruiters to build the staff pool, but at that point the hospital may be better off contracting with a nurse staffing company, whose incremental costs would be lower.

Travel nurses fill longer-term vacancies, usually ranging from 4-13 weeks. Per diem nurse staffing agencies may cover vacation absences or fill individual weekday or weekend shifts, which often are dangerously short of skilled nurses.

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“When hospitals realize the effect of weekend staffing on outcomes, you will have a different approach,” Reece said.

The travel nursing companies that focus on finding and screening candidates to ensure the quality of their personnel will come out ahead, Reece predicted. He also expects wages will need to go up to attract more people to enter the health care workforce, and more lower-level staff will enter the health care field and assume more responsibility for more care.

Staffing Industry Analysts’ growth forecast expected that travel nursing will grow 8 percent in 2016. Per diem growth is expected at 5 percent in 2016, with in-house float pools tempering the demand felt by per diem staffing agencies.

National health expenditures are expected to grow during the next five years, in part due to an improving economy, declining unemployment, increasing numbers of newly insured people, and an aging population that requires more services. The forecast also predicts that falling unemployment rates will help to increase the supply of temporary health care staff, since the temporary assignments will become more attractive if the person or family is financially more secure.

Marcia Faller, PhD, RN, chief clinical officer for AMN Healthcare, the nation’s largest health care staffing company and workforce solutions provider, attributes the increased demand for travel nursing jobs to the ACA providing more people with health insurance. Particularly in states that expanded Medicaid, the ACA has also improved profits at hospitals, making them willing to bring on travel nurses to keep up with demand for inpatient care.

Requests for travel nurses at AMN Healthcare have doubled or tripled in recent years, with the greatest number of requests in specialty areas. This has resulted in greater opportunities for nurses who are seeking nursing jobs with AMN’s travel nursing companies.

“The demand is greater than the supply of nurses,” Faller said. “For nurses interested in travel, there are great locations, great facilities and great pay packages. It’s a wonderful time to be a travel nurse.”

Apply today to start traveling with one of NursingJobs.com’s staffing partners.


Originally published on NurseZone.com

© 2016. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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