Nursing Shortage Grows Which Means More Jobs for Travel Nurses
High-Paying Travel Nursing Jobs Increase Across the Nation
In 2012, the U.S. healthcare industry realized a shortage of nurses would be a significant problem in the near future, and as years have passed that shortage has grown in prevalence and alarm. By the year 2030, a projected 1.2 million new registered nurses (RNs), emphasis on the term new, will be necessary to bridge that gap and yet obstacles remain as we amble ever closer to the year 2030.
Of course, the pandemic has had an adverse impact on the nursing shortage. The year 2020 was to be the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, a global campaign aimed not only at spotlighting the often-under-appreciated profession but to campaign for governments and educational institutions to investigate how their systems could better facilitate a legitimate growth of the nursing profession. This global campaign was abruptly sidelined as healthcare systems worldwide rushed to focus on a public health response to a virus attack. High-paying travel nursing jobs can be found nationwide as we continue to battle nurse staffing shortages, and the COVID Delta Variant.
COVID Exacerbates the Nursing Shortage
But more than simply shifting our attention: the death toll, the burnout, the anxiety, and the retirements are other consequences of COVID-19 that we’re seeing in nurses as well. One report shows that of the U.S. healthcare worker deaths attributed to COVID in the year 2020, nurses made up the largest group at 32% with healthcare support workers coming in at 20%, and physicians at 17%.
Burnout and Stress Statistics
The following report, “Prevalence and correlates of stress and burnout among U.S. healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national cross-sectional survey study” was published in May of this year, and puts actual statistics to the truth that we all have discussed informally. The results are saddening, but not altogether surprising.
The survey polled just shy of 21,000 healthcare workers and here’s a snippet from the summary findings:
“Sixty one percent reported fear of exposure or transmission, 38% reported anxiety/depression, 43% suffered work overload, and 49% had burnout. Stress scores were highest among nursing assistants, medical assistants, and social workers… Stress is higher among nursing assistants, medical assistants, social workers, inpatient workers, women and persons of color, is related to workload and mental health, and is lower when feeling valued.”
What should have special attention to it, is the observation that – stress is lower when a healthcare worker feels valued. That personal feeling of being valued is unique to the individual although there are likely some commonalities. For some, a feeling of value is tied to their salary or hourly pay rate. For others, appreciation from coworkers and supervisors is necessary. Some find that feeling of value in the rapport and appreciation they perceive from their patients, while the majority likely find it with a combination of all or some of those mentioned
Studies projected that over 1 million nurses would retire between the years 2015 and 2030 and COVID might have moved up that timeline a bit. When the country went on lockdown, it prompted a wave of early retirements. When experienced nurses retire, they take their experience, their grace, and their guidance with them, and we are all the sorrier for it.
Nursing Education Challenges
There are several challenges the nursing industry faces in the U.S. while trying to recruit and educate new nurses on a large scale. Here’s a rundown of a few of the big hitters:
The cost for a traditional BSN is daunting if not outright prohibitive. Even nursing students who find and gain acceptance by a nursing college that offers in-state tuition rates have difficulty affording the degree. The cost for a four-year program tuition, fees, books, food, and housing can range anywhere from $90,000 to $250,000. Most nursing students graduate into their new profession with a lump of student debt, and while the median salary for an RN in 2020 was $75,330 ($36.22 per hour) that’s not typically an entry-level wage. It’s pretty typical for a new BSN graduate to have over $40,000 in student loan debt.
Nurse educator positions don’t offer a competitive salary. It’s widely acknowledged within the profession that we need more nurse educators, but one drawback is that a nurse educator’s salary isn’t very competitive, and doesn’t correlate directly with their education. Masters level or doctor level nurses typically have significantly more debt than a BSN, and yet according to the BLS, their mean annual wage is just $84,060.
There are not enough master and doctorate-educated nurses. Only 13% of nurses have a graduate degree, and less than 1% have a doctorate. How many of you reading right now have an advanced nursing degree?
Advanced education for nurses requires a step back from income-earning and a significant financial investment. Not everyone is purely money motivated, so the problem that nurse educator salaries aren’t competitive is a deeper issue than you might initially expect. Not only do you have to step back from your current RN job that pays the bills and takes care of your family, but you have to add significant debt on top of the debt you’re already paying off, and do it for maybe $10,000 a year salary if you’re lucky. Nurses aren’t greedy, but they are worried about paying bills!
Many of the present nurse faculty are nearing or reaching retirement age, and their experience and knowledge will be missed.
Become a Travel Nurse with Elite Specialty Staffing
For those of you reading who have retired, but kept your nursing license active, have you considered becoming a travel nurse? Give your expertise and experience to others around you, one contract at a time. Our contracts are eight to 13 weeks long and we don’t have a minimum number of contracts per year required.
For those of you struggling with burnout, becoming a travel nurse could give you the change in circumstances you need to refresh and take care of yourself without actually taking a hiatus from the industry. Or if you’ve been on hiatus and are ready to come back, this can be a great way to walk back in the door.
Call us today to learn more about being a travel nurse with Elite Specialty Staffing!