Why do Healthcare Facilities Hire Travel Nurses?
You may have heard: Most of the country is facing a nursing shortage. Between rising demand for specialties, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, and an aging population, there just aren’t enough nurses to go around. So, many hospitals and healthcare facilities are turning to travel nurses. But while a lack of available local nurses is the biggest driver for travel nursing hires, it’s far from the only reason. Several key factors contribute to a facility’s decision to post a locum tenens position.
You might think you know the situation you’re walking into on a new assignment, but there’s probably more below the surface. Staying abreast of challenges in the healthcare industry — particularly those related to nursing — is crucial for finding your place in a new facility. This is why it’s so important to understand the full range of reasons a hospital might hire travel nurses. You’ll get more context for each unique situation and will be ready and able to lend a more helping hand.
The most common reasons hospitals hire travel nurses include:
- Staffing shortages. One of the main reasons hospitals rely on travel nurses is the nationwide nursing shortage. A shortage of nursing school faculty, aging populations of nurses nearing retirement, and stress leading to high turnover are leaving hospitals short-staffed. Travel nurses willing and ready to fill empty positions allow hospitals to meet high patient demand.
- Reduce turnover and overtime. Hospitals might also hire travel nurses to alleviate an overburdened nursing staff or prevent a shortage in their facility. Overworked nurses are more likely to leave, and frequent turnover is financially hard on hospitals. Travel nurses also help fill the gaps that would otherwise be filled by overtime workers. This further reduces the financial burden on facilities.
- Seasonal demand. States like Arizona and Florida typically see a large influx of tourists during the winter months. A facility’s existing nursing staff might not be enough to handle the increase in seasonal demand. Travel nurses fill these seasonal staffing shortages on a short-term basis until the hospital census returns to its off-season levels.
- Open specialty positions. Specialized nurses can be hard to come by — especially in rural areas with smaller populations. Travel nurses with certifications or in-demand specialties are more readily available to fill these positions in the short-term. This is often easier and faster for a hospital than sourcing and hiring a staff nurse.
- Crisis demands. Unexpected events and crises, such as natural disasters or a global pandemic, put excess strain on hospitals and their staff. In the event of a crisis, facilities might hire travel nurses to alleviate the stress and burden placed on their staff and meet unusually high patient demand.
Every assignment comes with its own set of challenges. In many cases, those challenges are the reason hospitals hire travel nurses. As you take on more assignments, you’ll learn to recognize the different reasons facilities require extra help. With a deeper understanding, you’ll be able to transition into your role quickly and navigate a facility’s specific challenges with ease.