Travel nursing has a deep and rich history, just like nursing itself.
Modern-day travel nurses are essential to any healthcare ecosystem. But it wasn’t always like that. It took decades for travel nurses to be recognized and compensated for their hard work. Now, travel nurses are on the frontline, battling the pandemic.
The Beginning of Travel Nursing
In the 1970s, America was experiencing a severe nurse shortage. The concept of travel nurses was developed in New Orleans due to the high volume of injuries sustained during the 1978 Mardi Gras. Hospital rooms were filling up and staff could not manage patients by themselves. Available nurses around the country were then contracted by New Orleans hospitals to provide extra support for current staff.
Fast forward to the 1980s, the idea of travel nursing became a common practice in the healthcare industry to combat the continual nursing shortage. It was a cost-effective and easy temporary solution that many hospitals around the country began to adopt.
As technology improved and the Internet became more mainstream and accessible, travel nursing exploded in popularity. The Internet allowed hospitals to post available positions and for nurses to find their next destination while also staying connected to friends and family. Staffing agencies, like Freedom Healthcare Staffing, have also emerged in the digital age to help hospitals and nurses manage their needs.
The Current State of Travel Nursing
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is undeniable on the healthcare industry, with shortages across all fields, from nurses to doctors. A survey in 2021 revealed that 66% of nurses said they considered leaving their job because of COVID-19 and 76% said that unvaccinated patients make them feel unsafe mentally and physically. Other reasons for shortages include burnout and lack of moral support.
Nonetheless, over the course of the pandemic, demand for travel nurses skyrocketed. The percentage of nursing staff around the country has increased from 4% to 8%. Hospitals have started relying on travel nurses more to fill vacancies because of how fast and available travel nurses are.
The great news is that interest in travel nursing also increased five times as compared to before the pandemic. Some reasons for this include the high compensation rate, the ability to travel, and assignments that typically last between 4 to 13 weeks.
The Future of Travel Nursing
With the pandemic still lingering around the world, travel nursing is not going anywhere. Interest in the profession will continue to rise because of demands and also the benefits that come with travel nursing. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that by 2025, more than 500,000 nursing positions will become available. It’s a daunting number, to say the least, but enrollment and graduation rates for nursing school continue to be steady and promising. Hospitals are also likely to continue their reliance on experienced travel nurses because of how beneficial it is for both sides.
If you’re interested in becoming a travel nurse, check out how to transition from staff to travel nurse. Once you’re ready to make that transition, Freedom Healthcare Staffing will connect you with one of their experienced recruiters to find the right position for you.