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Wed Mar 2, 2022, 11:35 AM

How the era of travel nursing has changed health care

In 2016, I was working as an ICU nurse in Reno, Nevada. But I didnít live in Reno. In fact, I hadnít trained as a nurse in the US at all; Iím from Canada and went to nursing school there. My initial contract was for just 13 weeks. I was what was called a travel nurse ó someone who was brought in from a different city, and sometimes even from a different country ó to meet a hospitalís temporary staffing needs.

At the start of my contract, we had a couple of days of onboarding and were then expected to hit the ground running. Every morning, I would report to the trauma ICU, one of four ICU units in the hospital, and only then find out where I was assigned, which was sometimes outside the ICU entirely.

Six years ago, travel nursing jobs like my Reno gig were a fringe part of the nursing landscape. But thatís changed. During the pandemic, the need for travel nurses has soared, and so have the wages paid them. Because I was a former ICU and travel nurse, I received frequent emails from travel nursing agencies when the pandemic first erupted, offering upward of $6,000 per week and occasionally as high as $10,000, if I were willing to relocate on as little as 48 hours notice to one of the cities experiencing a Covid-19 surge.

This was a steep increase from the average US ICU travel nurseís salary of $1,800 per week, per this 2019 report. (I didnít accept any of them, but I have to admit it was tempting.)

The rise of the travel nurse in the time of Covid-19 isnít that surprising. From the earliest days of the pandemic, registered nurses bore the brunt of the increased strain on the health care system. With ICUs across the country overflowing, hospitals were forced to open specialized Covid-19 wards and staffing was strained. Nurses were often required to work grueling hours with heavy patient loads, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and limited access to Covid-19 testing.

I was a travel nurse prior to Covid and this reflects only some of my experience. The last paragraph is particularly revealing. Ask me.

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Reply How the era of travel nursing has changed health care (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Mar 2022 OP
keithbvadu2 Mar 2022 #1

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Wed Mar 2, 2022, 11:36 AM

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