How COVID-19 Amplified – 2020: The Year of the Nurse
Before the arrival of COVID 19 to American soil, there was one true constant in the nursing industry: there are not enough nurses. In our article “How Nursing Shortages Create a High Demand for RNs” we explored factors contributing to the nursing shortage in the United States.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the year of 2020 would be the year of the nurse, stating that worldwide there is a need of 9 million nurses. Nursing organizations in countries worldwide got excited and started planning campaigns to pressure government leaders to look for solutions through policy and funding for schools. Other groups began organizing social media campaigns and conferences. For more information about year 2020 being the year of the nurse, read our article “2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife“. What no one anticipated was that a global pandemic would hit and that nurses would be battling many forces at once.
There is no way the WHO could have known how fitting the name of the year 2020 would be. There has been more attention brought to the vital role nurses play because of COVID 19 than could have been planned by a systematic campaign with slide shows and lobbying and statistics about baby boomers and the healthcare system and ratios and statistics of the roles nurses fill and the burdens they have been facing.
Media coverage about the pandemic has been near constant. While many of those articles are about statistics and measures being taken to close down and now, reopen communities, many have also been about the frontline workers, the nurses. Our politicians, our cities, our citizens, our neighbors all learned more about the industry of nursing in the last few months than we could have imagined. They learned that we are advocates. They learned that we suffer burn out and mental health stressors. They read about our salaries and pay packages, and they read about our furloughs and cancelled contracts. They read about us, and they learned about us.
Advocacy in Nursing
In April, with the rapid rise of COVID 19 cases in hot spots such as New York City and the state of Washington, we saw reports of inadequate resources. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers went to the media and reported not having appropriate PPE, which started a nationwide grassroots campaign of people making masks in their homes to donate to hospitals.
Burnout and Mental Health in Nursing
Then came the alarming reports of staffing shortages coupled with accounts of barely manageable patient to nurse ratios and the mental strain of the overwhelming numbers. Burnout for nurses has always been something we have to self-assess for, but for medical professionals on the frontline of the pandemic it became a very real concern. The suicide of New York City Dr Lorna M Breen and various nurses calling out for help and support on their social media accounts gained attention to the issue outside of our industry. So much so that the major virtual mental health provider Talkspace offered mental health services for pandemic healthcare workers.
High Pay, Furloughs, and Cancelled Contracts in Nursing
For a period of time in April the pay packages for some travel nurses were more than double the usual pay and some as high as $13,000 a week. Travel nurses from all over the United States signed up with our COVID 19 emergency response initiative to go to help the hospitals overrun with the influx of coronavirus patients. While other nurses found themselves working the frontlines of the pandemic without traveling at all, here’s one account from a nurse working in a rural hospital in Ohio.
However, because of the enormous economic strain on the hospital systems, nurses in private practices and in specialties for elective procedures instead saw furloughs. Many travel nurses frustratingly, had cancelled contracts in areas that didn’t get hit hard by the pandemic but were scaling back medical procedures per state mandates. It has been such a roller coaster.
State Licensing for Nurses
In 2000 the Nursing License Compact began as an agreement between certain states to allow nurses licensed in one state to also work in another state (that participated in the compact) without having to re-license. The NLC became the eNLC (enhanced nursing license compact) in 2018 by adding the requirement of state and federal fingerprinting and criminal background checks. When COVID 19 hit, 32 of the United States were a part of the eNLC, but hot spot places such as Washington and New York were not and still are not. State nursing boards temporarily changed licensure requirements and states issued “state of emergency” declarations to fast track nurses for the frontlines. As a result of the pandemic, we hope to see more states joining the eNLC to allow travel nurses easier mobilization in times of crisis.
Travel Nursing Jobs Available with Elite Specialty Staffing
As the economy opens back up, facilities and hospitals have begun performing their routine duties and elective procedures which has pulled many if not most nurses back to work from furloughs. Elite Specialty Staffing has travel nursing jobs available now in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, and more. If you’re a nurse and worried about employment for the summer, give us a call today. Travel nurses with Elite Specialty Staffing enjoy great benefits such as:
- High Pay and Bonuses
- Medical, Dental and Vision Insurance from Day One
- Free Private Housing or Generous Housing Allowance
- Tax Advantage Plan
- Weekly Payroll Deposit
- Free Online CEUs
- 401(k) Plans
- Traveler Rewards and Discounts
- Travel and Licensure Reimbursements