Unless you’ve been traveling under a rock lately, you know that the job market in the post-COVID world has been shrinking quickly in recent months, hammering travelers with cancelled contracts, pay reductions and a harder time finding an assignment.
As data recently released by Aya Healthcare shows, the number of open travel, contract, electronic medical record and strike positions available right now for RNs, LPNs and CNAs has dropped significantly from peak demand of well over 40,000 openings less than a year ago to roughly 15,000 now. That having been said, the demand for travel nurses is still much stronger now than it was before 2020.
Before panic starts to set in, though, it is important to remember that the two year “COVID explosion” is the exception and not the norm in the travel nursing industry. Let’s do a quick history lesson since we’ve added a lot of new travel nurse friends in the past couple years.
Travel nursing start in earnest in the 1980s when nursing shortages first started to be an issue. Hiring nurses for short-term assignments has always been a cost-effective way for hospital systems to efficiently deal with staff shortages and census changes. For the nurses, it is a chance to experience life anywhere in the country while also acquiring new skills and experience. Travel nurses have always been compensated better than staff nurses, but the gap really grew in the past two years, fueled in large part to enormous amounts of federal and state aid.
It wasn’t uncommon 6-12 months ago for nurses to be able to get $5,000, $6,000 or even more a week. Now though, according to data from Vivian Health, the average rate is about $3,100 a week and that number is still dropping. As that aid has dried up and life returns to normal after the pandemic, the pay gap is closing but there is still a significant difference between the pay between travel and staff nurses. To make sure you are finding assignments that fit your geographical, professional and income needs, reach out to one of CrossMed’s recruiters and have them help you find the perfect fit!