2020 Was a Big Year for Travel Nursing; 2021’s Outlook is Similar
Most travel nurses take assignments for the experience — the ability to go somewhere new, immerse themselves in a new environment, and provide help for people who need it most. This past year has provided no shortage of these opportunities. 2020 has and continues to be a big year for travel nursing demand — and it’s looking like 2021 will bring more of the same as the country continues to battle COVID-19, natural disasters, inclement weather, and more.
COVID-19 as the primary driver
There’s no secret to why 2020 was such a booming year for travel nurses: COVID-19 has been and continues to be a bane in communities across the country. First, the challenge was in big cities, which faced huge droves of admittances that strained the hospital infrastructure and demanded more healthcare professionals. Now, middle America and rural communities are being hit — areas already suffering from a shortage of healthcare staff. In both cases, travel nurses have been the solution.
More demand for travel nurses
Despite coronavirus’ domination of the headlines, several other factors came into play for travel nursing demand in 2020. Wildfire relief was a prevalent concern in states like California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Travel nursing saw a spike during the mid-to-late summer months as smoke inhalation and other respiratory factors sent patients in overwhelming numbers to local hospitals.
Even hurricane season has called for travel nursing this year. Hurricane Delta is expected to make landfall in just a few days (as of writing) — the 25th named tropical storm this year and a record 10th to make landfall. While destruction from these storms has remained minor, the need for qualified hospital staff is still there in a proactive capacity.
Looking ahead to 2021
As the nation continues to reel from coronavirus, there are certain to be ongoing healthcare concerns in the upcoming year. For example, places like Hawaii are beginning to see surges of the virus and lack local healthcare staff to tamp down on the spread and administer relief. Travel nurses already are being mobilized to the Aloha State.
As total U.S. and new daily cases continue to peak above 30k, travel nurses are on standby heading into 2021. A vaccine could change the trajectory of travel nursing’s outlook, but it’s unlikely we see a viable one until well-into 2021 according to current reports.
Perhaps the biggest driver of travel nursing as we head into the end of the year and 2021 ahead is the “inequitable distribution of the nursing workforce across the United States.” Local nursing shortages continue to plague states like California, Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina, and others. As demand rises and shortages continue, travel nurses will fill the void.
Few could’ve predicted the staggering strain on healthcare that 2020 brought with it. Now, as we look ahead, it’s clear that 2021 will continue to offer opportunities to travel nurses. They’re needed now more than ever.