Just a mere few years ago, crisis contracts were few and far between. But since COVID has reared its ugly head, crisis and rapid response are now part of the ‘new norm.’
But like many nurses, the burning question is, what exactly is the difference?
This article will break down these two types of emerging and more common travel nursing jobs.
The Rapid Response Travel Nurse
Not too long ago, I was contacted by an agency that needed RN’s in a specific city and hospital ASAP. The nurses had gone on strike (yes, RN’s can be unionized, and they do strike), and the facility needed help. Little did I know that I was taking a contract commonly known as “rapid response.”
I was expected to be there in less than 5 days, and if you do a contract like this, it will likely be an even shorter window.
While this was a 30-day “gig,” some may be shorter. And others may be longer.
The bottom line is that a rapid response contract is when a healthcare facility or hospital needs travel RNs to quickly fill positions.
Some of these contracts require that you remain flexible.
In the gig, I referenced, I worked on a PCU unit for the duration. My skills and training are in ER/trauma, but the agency asked me to flex, and I obliged. We also had to stay close to the facility, and you may be asked to do the same.
As far as money and pay went, well, I’ll just say it was pretty darn good.
Because rapid response nursing entails quickly taking on a new role, you will be adequately compensated. You could receive a rapid response bonus, higher base salaries, or extra stipends such as a greater housing stipend since finding housing in a short amount of time might be tricky.
As a rapid response RN, you might arrive on location and “get dirty” ASAP, so you won’t receive a lengthy orientation or have time to “settle in,” per se.
The Crisis Contract Travel Nurse
As I write this, crisis contracts are booming.
The cause is, of course, COVID. Just when we think we’re out of the woods, a new variant wreaks havoc and sends the healthcare system into a tailspin. And thus is the “crisis contract.”
These gigs are usually geographically based and often hyper-specific to a facility or hospital system.
Nurses who work in a crisis situation might be providing care to patients in high-risk situations or areas that have been designated as disaster zones. It’s conceivable that working on a fast response nursing contract is also a crisis travel assignment, implying you may make more money.
The bottom line is to be prepared for the un-preparable.
As an example, right now, I’m writing from a desert EMEDS. What that means is that I’m in a crisis response contract. This year the US began evacuating Afghan refugees into the US, and we are working out of a tent-based hospital called an EMEDS. Literally in the New Mexico desert to help 1,000 refugees and provide healthcare to them.
The conditions are, shall we say, unusual.
Some crisis response contracts are not necessarily high-paying assignments. Some nurses choose to do these for the humanitarian part. Some for the sake of helping populations in need.
Not all travel agencies place RNs in contracts like this, so seeking these out maybe a little more time-consuming. But in my experience, well worth it. Some of these contracts can be short, 30-days. And some can be longer.
I’m on a 90-day assignment, and I just extended an additional 90-days.
Of The Two, Which Is Right For You?
Both of these types of assignments have their own benefits and drawbacks. They depend on how available you are, what your needs or desires are at the time, and of course, your skillset as a nurse.
If you happen to be an ER RN who specializes in austere environments, well, you may just be a highly valuable asset in an EMEDS type tent hospital.
On the other hand, if you’re super flexible and want to build an excellent travel nurse resume while making really decent money, then a rapid response contract might be in your cards.
A rapid response contract may allow you to travel to a new area, not be working in risky conditions but still gain valuable experience. If you can come into work at a moment’s notice, you may benefit from a rapid response contract.
But beyond all this is the fact that you can flip and flop between the two. Do one, then do another. Because we’re nurses, the ability to try them both, and succeed, is well within our capability. As a travel RN, we can certainly try out many different types and scopes of assignments — all while earning money and traveling to new and often cool locations in the process.
The Final Word
If you’re a nurse looking for the correct type of contract to pursue, make sure you know what your needs are and what skill set, or location might be best. We recommend that you research both types of contracts before committing to one.
In general, rapid response nursing tends to pay more than crisis contracting. Still, it may not always guarantee great work conditions due to COVID outbreaks in areas where nurses would typically provide care.
Before making any decisions about which contract is better suited for your current situation, we suggest doing thorough research into both options to help guide future career choices when considering travel nursing opportunities!
To learn more about the travel nursing opportunity and cities across the country, visit Bestica Healthcare and start planning your next assignment today.
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