A nursing shortage has affected the medical world for the better part of a decade. While debate continues among decision makers about long-term solutions, travel nurses could fill the gaps as they take on short-term work in areas where additional staff are needed the most.
As Baby Boomers reach retirement age, many nurses depart the work force. But as more people require increased care for chronic conditions due to the surge of aging Americans, the demand on nursing services is greater than ever. In Maine, for example, the state's senior population will grow by 37% percent over the next 10 years alone.
Another factor influencing nurse availability is the growth of specialty health care fields other than acute care. Nursing opportunities in ambulatory settings have increased, while teaching faculty and students in general nursing have decreased. The challenges associated with a nurse shortage provide ample opportunities to nurses who want new positions.
Reducing nurse-to-patient ratios is one solution which many providers aim for in labor management. Advantages include helping nurses avoid burnout by reducing patient load, while increasing care quality because nurses spend more time with individual patients. However, many hospitals struggle to maintain a healthy ratio, creating a need that travel nurses might easily fill. California has had nurse-to-patient ratio laws since 2004 and Ohio hopes to follow suit.
There are also more health care systems requiring nurses to have a bachelor's degree, which leave those providers needing additional staff. Another advantage travel nurses offer is helping hospitals reduce staffing issues and compensation costs.
Travel nurses have a chance to bridge gaps for many understaffed hospital systems. Because work assignments are short-term, travel nurses provide relief at hospitals feeling the strain from understaffing.
The industry has a chance to be a force for change when it comes to recruitment. Travel nurses with the freedom to choose when and where they take assignments often provide the solution that many hospitals need. As a travel nurse, you have the freedom to take assignments based on your preferred locations and other personal needs.
Some travel nurses take these positions after retirement from a long-term position. Nurses who plan to stay in the industry for years to come, but would like a change of pace can also benefit. If you're one of these nurses, it is a win-win situation where you can continue doing the work you love and help providers meet their most urgent personnel needs.