I am an experienced OR Nurse (over 35 years) and also an experienced Traveling Nurse. I have been permanent for the last three years and I am considering traveling again. I would like to know how the travel nurse industry is holding up (in our current economic situation) in terms of getting contracts that will allow the nurse to continue to be employed full-time within a travel nurse setting. In other words, is it realistically possible to get three to four contracts per year which would constitute full-time hours?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
Hello. As you might already know, 2009 was a bad year for the traveler with assignments down almost 50%. The following year was a “bounce back” year, but things were certainly not up to their pre-2009 state. In 2011, we only continued the climb, but I’d say that with hospitals around the nation facing state and federal cutbacks, we are not going to see anything like pre-2009 for a long time.
However, one thing remains and will continue for a LONG time. We are still in a nursing shortage, that by all accounts, will only continue to worsen. That means staffing needs throughout the country.
If you still have inactive (or active) licenses in a few states, you will be ahead of the game. The major thing is that needs are more immediate and the quicker you can interview, accept, and have license in hand, the better off you will be. Many travelers will now obtain their license before interviewing in a particular state (I believe all the travel agencies I use will still reimburse for that license if it is used on an assignment with them, even after the fact).
You might also need to be more flexible in assignment locations and if you were not using several agencies before, I recommend everyone be on file with at least two or three (I am currently on file with about 6 or 7).
So, if you understand how the market has changed, you should still expect to be able to work on a full time basis. Most of my years as a traveler have been spent on multiple extensions or repeat locations to help me limit my gap time, but you should still be able to keep traveling full time even if you need a change of venue every 13 weeks.
Hope this helps.