An experienced traveler recently emailed asking about working at a facility on strike. In my book I have a section that covers strike work pretty extensively, but wanted to offer a few general facts that might be helpful if you decide to pursue this type of assignment.
When you mention “strike work” to a travel nurse, they will often have very passionate feelings about it either one way or another. Those against strike work will argue that any nurse willing to cross a picket line (often labeled “a scab”), is doing a disservice to their fellow professionals. Striking nurses are often attempting to better the working conditions in their hospital. Anyone that allows the hospital to keep operating under these conditions is not looked upon favorably.
While no one is exactly “pro-strike”, there are nurses that will argue their point for working in a facility where the staff is on strike. The most often heard argument is, “who will care for the patients when the staff is on strike”. Although I myself would not hesitate to work a strike, this argument is one that I would have a hard time making with a straight face. I’m not saying that there are not possibly people who truly believe this, but I would say that most of us are not that altruistic. The honest reason most consider working a strike, is for the money.
A nurse working a strike can earn, on average, anywhere from $3000-$5000 a week. Occasionally, a hard hit hospital could pay double that amount. When you start looking at those types of numbers, it is not hard to see why many nurses are enticed by this type of work.
While the numbers look great, you must remember that this is often based on 60 hours or more a week. Many times, you will contract to work for a two week period and might end up working every single day. The staff with whom you are working will most likely be other travelers who are not familiar with the facility or the unit. If you work in a specialized unit such as ER or ICU, the normal stressors of that environment will only be compounded by the tension due to the strike. While it can be lucrative work, it is not easy work.
Next week we’ll take a look at the process of contracting with a facility on strike.