The appeal of travel nursing has drawn droves of nurses with varied experience and a mixture of backgrounds in recent years. With contracts ranging from 4 to 26 weeks in every state across the nation, the flexibility and adventure have called to many in the healthcare profession. Many contracts include generous pay, housing stipends, meal reimbursement, and airfare or other transportation compensation.
These incentives as well as the desire to step up and help fellow nurses and patients during the pandemic have inspired growing numbers of nurses to take on the challenge of travel nursing. At no other time have travel nurses been as much in demand as they have since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical facilities in dire need of extra help have added to the standard packages to attract even more workers to try out this mode of mobile employment and meet their increasing need for additional nurses.
Increased Crisis Pay
Travel nursing is a lucrative endeavor at any time, but some travel nurses are seeing paychecks much larger than what they receive during a typical contract. Areas that have been hit the hardest are offering the biggest pay incentives. It is not uncommon for a New York travel nurse to find contracts that are double the standard amount. Some nurses have reported receiving offers for as much as $10,000 per week. Additionally, many of these pay packages include compensation for the time you will have to quarantine before beginning your nursing duties.
These pay increases are even greater if you work in a desired specialty and are willing to take on some overtime. The demand for travel nurses to work during the pandemic continues to increase, and you are likely able to negotiate attractive terms that suit your particular needs. Hospitals across the country are competing for nurses to fill the extra demand, as well as replace nurses who have left due to family obligations or other factors that have impacted their ability to work during this health crisis.
If you work in the midwest or in one of the states with the lowest pay for nurses, switching from a stationary nurse to a traveler who works in higher paying cities can mean a tremendous salary increase. Many travel nurses complete 13 week contracts and make enough money to take several weeks off before taking on another assignment.
Though it may seem this type of employment is best suited for the young and single who do not have young children or families to keep them at home, there are many older nurses who take advantage of the high pay and potential for extra time off. Many experienced nurses with grown children have found the lifestyle and potential for travel suits them, and their experience is welcomed across the country.
Some use the potential for extra time off and extra pay to do more traveling, and some take advantage of the time to spend with friends and family at their home base. The increased pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic could mean an extended time between contracts and the freedom to spend quality time doing what you like without the time pressures of regular shifts.
Free Hotels, Rental Cars, and Airfare
Even if your contract does not include free housing, when New York City was hit with the pandemic, hotels like the Four Seasons offered free rooms to healthcare workers to ease the commute for frontline workers. Other companies have offered free car rentals and airfare and free food. While some of these costs are often covered by travel nursing companies, there are a number of perks out there for travel nurses who are looking for more incentives.
Emergency State Licensure
Nearly every state has declared some form of an official state of emergency. Along with these declarations, many states have authorized their Departments of Health or Nursing Licensing Boards to offer emergency licensing to volunteer, retired, inactive, or out of state nurses.
For instance, in New York, the state has called on retirees and promised rapid reactivation of nursing licenses, and any nurse from out of state with a current license is allowed to work as a New York travel nurse. Out of state nurses may receive a New York license within a day.
This is a great opportunity for those who are losing work hours in their own states. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken precedence over areas of medicine that are not considered urgent. Some nurses have reported a reduction in work hours due to canceled elective procedures and physicians’ transitions to telehealth consultations. The ability to take a position as a travel nurse and work on a contract in an area with more demand can make up for lost pay for those who are not getting the hours they need at their home facilities.
As a travel nurse, you are thrust into new environments where you interact in ways that would never occur if you were traveling as a tourist. The opportunity to engage with coworkers and patients who are native to the area offers a much richer experience than you would receive snapping photos at the local tourist attractions. Traveling workers are immersed in new cultures for weeks at a time.
You may not be able to visit all the sites a typical traveler would visit during the pandemic, but you will build relationships with locals who can truly introduce you to what their community is all about. Instead of reading brochures, you will get to speak with people who have been shaped by the local culture. These people can give you the real scoop on what makes their city unique.
Valuable Work Experience
The pandemic has created an even greater nursing shortage. If you are seeking opportunities to try out different areas of medicine, this is an opportune time. You will be able to find work in nonprofit or for-profit medical facilities, large hospitals, community hospitals, trauma centers, or smaller clinics.
If you are looking to gain more experience in a particular area, this is wide open as well. Though the biggest demand is for nurses who can work in emergency care and ICUs, nurses are being pulled from other areas to fill shortages, so other positions are opening. Travel nurse agencies will work with you to find a position that is suitable for your experience or a position that will allow you to utilize your current skills while building on skills in other areas.
By taking on the role of a travel nurse, you will join a community of medical care professionals with diverse backgrounds and gain the benefit of shared experiences and new approaches. The work experience you will gain while working as a travel nurse in a pandemic will be unparalleled to anything else you can put on your resume.
Whether you decide to become a New York travel nurse, or head to another state that has been devastated by the pandemic, you are sure to find great reward in the experience. Working the front lines during a pandemic will provide the ultimate challenge and opportunity to sharpen your nursing skills. It will allow you to utilize the skills you already possess and gain new skills to benefit your future patients.
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