4 Reasons Rural America Needs Travel Nurses
Rural America is in the midst of a growing healthcare crisis. With a shortage of healthcare professionals to serve the growing demands of an aging population, rural facilities are increasingly reliant on travel nurses to help bridge the gap.
In rural America, travel nurses can provide flexibility in meeting short-term staffing needs, offer specialized care in areas with limited resources, and increase the quality of care and patient satisfaction. They’re even instrumental in encouraging the adoption of digital technologies.
Put simply, travel nurses continue to be an instrumental force in keeping rural America healthy.
Challenges of providing healthcare in rural America
Many rural American areas suffer significant disparities surrounding the social determinants of health (SDH). Several factors contribute to poorer health outcomes among rural communities, including limited access to specialists and lower socioeconomic status. Because they’re farther away from metropolitan areas, healthcare isn’t always within reach. These areas have lower health and less care, which perpetuates poor wellness outcomes.
An estimated 30 million Americans live in “healthcare deserts” — areas where homes are at least a 60-minute drive from a hospital. Moreover, the hospitals in rural areas have difficulty finding and retaining talent. Primary care providers also are few and far between, and many specialists are unavailable. A staff shortage is one of the biggest factors in combatting health disparities, and the problem is only growing worse post-pandemic. Ultimately, patient health suffers because of the lack of resources.
Rural America needs travel nurses
Travel nurses can help with the main problem facing rural healthcare: staffing shortages. They fill demand and assist in areas needing it most. Because of this, there’s incredible variety and flexibility for nurses willing to work in healthcare deserts.
Travel nurses can also increase the quality of care in rural areas. Not only do they fill critical staffing gaps, but they bring essential skills and expertise that might not otherwise be available to rural populations. This includes experience with healthcare technologies like telemedicine.
Travel nurses are a lynchpin in tackling the rural healthcare crisis, but they can’t do it alone. Healthcare reform is critical for better opportunities in rural areas.
How travel nurses can answer the call
It’s important for travel nurses to get to know the local culture where they’re working. Sensitivity to identity features like race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status can be crucial for travel nurses because these factors also contribute to SDH disparities. For this reason, building relationships with local healthcare teams and patients is beneficial for travel nurses.
Taking assignments in rural areas can be challenging, but those with a willingness to step in and the initiative to be a problem-solver can impact communities with few resources — and this can be a rewarding experience.