It seems that on the daily there are more and more nurses talking about travel nursing.

And if we nurses have been really paying attention, there are more and more travel positions available too.

Or are there?

Let’s call it like it is. COVID has reshaped and made us rethink not only nursing but also the entire section of our profession called travel nursing. While we cannot foresee what’s going to happen with COVID, and especially the new variants, we can predict that the travel nurse industry will continue to explode. The need for nurses, and especially the nomadic ones, has never been greater and the gap is getting bigger.

This is a very big change from less than two years ago.

Not too long ago, back in early 2020, the virus hit our radars and hospitals with a vengeance. Some states were slammed harder than others and we as a people began to take note of a growing phenomenon. The age of the travel nurse had begun.

We nurses not only took notice of these new emerging crisis contracts, and so did the rest of the country.

If you were (are) a staff RN, then you likely started seeing a new breed of nurse entering the battle. Maybe you welcomed it, perhaps you were curious, and for some, it was an invasion of home turf. A new breed of a mercenary was now unleashed across the USA.

The most significant change is we rapidly realized that travel nurses are needed everywhere.

The hardest-hit states then and now seem to be New York, California, and even my home state of Texas. And now, at the tail end of 2021 and the new variants popping up, even the rural areas like New Mexico (where I’m at now), and smaller towns, are beginning to feel the lasting impact of COVID-19 and its ugly morphed cousins.

So now that you know, let’s take it one level deeper.

It’s not new, it’s now at the forefront

You never really notice yellow cars until you buy one. Then all of a sudden all you see are red vehicles.

Your reticular activator is lit up and now that you and the public are aware of travel nursing, suddenly you read about it all the time.

Travel nurses are now in legitimate demand my friend.

When the pandemic emerged, the hot commodities were masks, gowns, gloves and all the PPE we don. Shortly after it was ventilators. Now, it’s nurses. The biggest distinction is that you as the nurse have a voice and can speak for yourself.

Does that make sense?

You’re not a commodity. You’re a person and you’re in high demand. Every day, hundreds of new travel nurse contracts are published on staffing agency websites, yet travel nurses are still encountering difficulties in signing new agreements.

Some of the contracts are labeled as crisis COVID contracts, which have a high rate of cancellation prior to starting the contract. Some folks are calling these nurses “COVID chasers” and the greater truth is that competition for these gigs is getting stiffer. One could also argue that “COVID chasers” are a new subspecialty that hospitals are seeking. The main reason is that these nurses understand what they’re signing up for and come to work prepared for war.

These nurses have worked tirelessly on the front lines and are better prepared to hit the floor running.

So then if there’s a need, why are these gigs so “sketchy?”

The main reason is that facilities may tend to overhire, knowing there’s going to be a big drop-off of personnel in the early days. This is good and bad. Good because if you’re an RN and there to slam some hours in, then you’ll have to let attrition rear its ugly head. And good in that once it does, you’ll be working your tail off.

Toss in the real fact that you could test positive for the virus and the gig abruptly ends and you have the recipe for high risk, yet highly lucrative assignment.

But the fact remains that right now, at this moment, travel nurses are steering the ship and there’s a bidding war to get you to come work.

While it may feel like the market is saturated, the fact is that there are not enough of us to go around. There aren’t enough nurses PERIOD to satisfy the massive demand and especially RNs with the necessary experience. And I’m not talking just about COVID experience, I’m talking about experience as a nurse in general.

The time is now to ride a massive wave.

So you’re saying there’s a shortage of travel nurses?

Yes. Yes, I am. There has been a demand for the last two decades, maybe even longer. And that’s basically about as long as I’ve been an RN.

Not only are there quite literally thousands of travel nurse gigs open across the US, but there are also dozens upon dozens of staffing and recruitment agencies popping up as well.

Hospitals, systems, stand-alone facilities, and all the other places we work are scrambling to find qualified nursing help. More and more they’re turning to travel nurse agencies. And more and more, nurses just like you are ditching the staff nurse roles and going to the nomadic side.

There are some companies, some really large ones, that talk on social media about having thousands, literally thousands, of travel contracts available. Others mention the 100-200% growth in hospital requests for help. The point is that the facts don’t lie. And if you’re a “boots on the ground” travel nurse then you’re likely seeing this for yourself.

The final word

Travel nurses are now in demand. Hospitals have been scrambling for qualified help, so much so that they’ve turned to travel nurse agencies. Nurses who go nomadic are making a wise decision given the current nursing shortage and high-risk COVID contracts available at the present moment.

The time is now to ride this wave of opportunity as hospitals scramble for qualified candidates.

What do YOU think about the future of travel nursing? Let us know in the comments below!

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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