If you haven’t already noticed, the travel nursing industry in early 2009 looks a lot different than it did in early 2008. Due to the economy, a variety of factors have emerged that have temporarily given a new face to the nursing shortage.
There is no doubt still a nursing shortage, there wasn’t a sudden influx of a million nurses to the workforce. No, what has happened is pretty simple. When the economy started to decline and layoffs began, the nurse spouses of the laid-off worker did the only natural thing they could and picked up extra shifts, reducing the number of unfilled shifts normally filled by travel nurses. Couple this with the fact that due to the economy people are delaying treatments and more of those who are getting treatment are not as able to pay as they have been in the past. This lack of revenue for the hospitals means that on top of all this they are delaying much needed expansion to deal with the undelayable increase in patients which will be seen as more and more of the baby boomers retire (one of the major contributors to the nursing shortage, which remember still exists). This delay in turn means a slow down in the number of new positions at a hospital, positions that have typically been filled with travelers at the beginning until perm staff can be recruited and trained.
OK, that was the bad news. Now the good news.
First, this is only temporary, the economy will turn around.
Second, there are still a ton of travel nursing positions available, but as a travel nurse you will need to be more open to what locations you are willing to take an assignment in. The coasts were some of the hardest hit by the economic downturn so there are going to be less jobs there right now, the more you move to the middle of the country the less impact the economy has had and that is where you will find the majority of the travel nursing jobs for the time being.
Third, a majority of the nurses working extra shifts (you may be one of them at the moment) will tire and suffer burn out from being overworked and not having enough help. When they are no longer so willing to work the extra shifts then those jobs will open back up. Possibly with even more open jobs as those nurses themselves decide to take travel assignments.
Fourth, this delaying of treatment is just that, delaying, eventually they will need to deal with it and visit the hospitals again.
What does this mean for you? What can you do right now?
A great article at PanTravelers offers some more insight into the economy and lays out some things you can do as a travel nurse to survive during this economic crunch. Some quick highlights of it include:
Seriously consider extending your contract.
Be professional because there is a lot more competition for the travel nursing jobs right now.
Be more flexible. This is no time to be picky, whether it is pay, location or benefits.
Take this as a chance to grow professionally as a nurse, add a license, maintain and add certifications.
Be choosy about the travel nursing agency and check on their financial standing
Stay aggressive and in control of your travel nursing job search., look at multiple travel nursing companys.
- Talk to other travelers , you will get wind of open jobs and the status of travel nursing companies that way.
- Be financially sound yourself with at least a 13 week an emergency fund.
These were just a few quick overviews of the article; it is definitely worth reading. Do you have any other advice you would offer?