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Why It’s a Great Time to Be a Travel Nurse

Woman hiking on a mountainYou’ve heard about the nurse shortage and know that facilities around the country are in need of skilled nurses, but did you know it’s also a great time to be a travel nurse? Here are three strong reasons why:

You can choose from hundreds of travel nursing jobs

At RNnetwork, we have thousands of open jobs — double or triple than what we’ve ever had. In fact, orders are so plentiful that it’s been a struggle to keep our website up to date with job descriptions.

Why is demand up for travel nurses? It’s a combination of factors, analysts say. The Affordable Care Act has played a role by extending healthcare coverage to millions. And we can credit the favorable U.S. economy for helping to reduce the nationwide unemployment rate to about 3 percent. (More employed people equals more people with healthcare benefits.)

On the front lines, hospital and facility administrators — who used to hire traveler nurses only to fill seasonal gaps — are now building “mixed” staffing plans, combining permanent and temporary nurses year round to meet this higher demand in patient care. Many facilities are also seeing improved profits, which tends loosen purse strings and indirectly equate to more job orders.

Which specialties are most needed? All are in demand, but especially nurses who work in critical care units, such as the ER, ICU, CCU and post-op recovery units.

You can travel virtually anywhere

“So, where do you want to go?” That’s the first question recruiters ask providers today, which was not always the case. When the economy crashed back in 2008, job orders dried up almost overnight, forcing many travelers to be patient and accept what was available (even in an undesirable location), or stop traveling and look for a permanent position. In stark contrast to seven years ago, demand for nurses (including travelers) has hit a 20-year high.

“Job orders aren’t just more abundant, they’re in more desired locations,” says Samantha Wines, RNnetwork recruiter. “A year ago, we had relatively few opportunities in the Coastal Carolinas — Myrtle Beach, Nags Head, Charleston — and today, we’re placing nurses there right and left.”

Matt Marcus, another RNN recruiter, says, “I’ve been doing this 10 years, and it’s the best job market I’ve seen.”

Job seekers can be more specific (and more successful) in their quest to find an assignment in a desired location. Explore a new region of the country, or take an assignment at a world-class hospital. The original lures of the profession — travel and adventure — have returned.

The future looks bright

Labor projections for the next decade bode well for travel nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. healthcare workforce is expected to grow significantly through 2022, with nurses leading the way in filling the highest volume of healthcare jobs across the country.

Nurses already make up the single-largest health profession in the U.S., and the nationwide demand for nurses is projected to grow to 3.5 million by 2025 — a 20 percent increase compared to today’s numbers. There’s no reason to believe the demand for travel nurses will decline.

So, where do you want to go? Check out our open travel nursing jobs to get started.

About the author


Greg Merrill

Greg is a marketing brand manager for RNnetwork. He began his career as a writer and managed to parlay that into a 20-year marketing career. He loves the chase — building brands and solving business challenges with great advertising. A prog rock fan and golf junkie, he spends an inordinate amount of his free time wearing earphones, trying to fix his chipping yips.

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