Travel Nursing News in 2022 In the Brave New Healthcare World
The golden age of travel nursing is over. Some nurses are currently abandoning the field entirely, joining other nurses in doing so.
By switching jobs frequently during the COVID epidemic, nurses increased their salaries. But the brief surge only served as a band-aid for the nursing industry’s long-term deterioration.
In 2020, while the epidemic raged, thousands of hospital employees deserted their positions and began working as travel nurses because the money was so appealing. Two years later, and this isn’t the case anymore. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are now offering an average of $1000-$2000 per week to travel nurses, which doesn’t seem to be worth their time considering the costs of travel, stay, and traumatic experiences from COVID that they have had to endure. The reality is that travel nurses are still needed as people are still sick and dying and need medical attention due to COVID. Despite the compensation cut, travel nurses won’t necessarily return to staff positions. The pandemic-preceded long-term fall in the profession was only temporarily remedied by the surge in travel nursing.
According to the research company, travel nurses made an average of $124.96 per hour in 2021, which is three times the hourly wage of staff nurses, according to federal data. Registered nurses’ access to travel compensation that year led to 2.47% of them abandoning their positions as hospital staff, according to Nursing Solutions Inc., a nurse recruiting company, in its 2022 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report.
In the absence of proactive action by healthcare organizations and the government to increase recruitment, the United States may experience a shortfall of up to 450,000 registered nurses within three years, according to a report by McKinsey & Co. Hospitals are having trouble filling shifts because nurses are leaving.
Teyal Miller, Jennifer Reents, and Carolyn Miller, three travel nurses, filed a class-action lawsuit on July 29th against Maryland-based staffing firm Maxim Healthcare Services. The nurses were allegedly misled by the corporation by making them accept a wage decrease or face termination despite having agreed to the terms of the assignment, according to the lawsuit.
With a base pay of $125 per hour, travel nurse Carolyn Miller accepted the offer. After she began the work, however, Maxim informed her that she could either accept a revised rate of $90 per hour or renounce the job entirely. The lawsuit claims that nurses who are placed in this “take-it-or-leave-it” situation are left with no alternative but to accept the lesser fee. They have already moved, incurred travel expenses, and signed a short-term housing arrangement by the time they are confronted with this new deal. If the nurse chooses to break the contract, the travel nursing services won’t pay them back. As a result, nurses may lose thousands of dollars.
The nurses who are mentioned in the case contend that Maxim intentionally used this bait and switch tactic in order to keep their profit margins in the same range as they were at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Maxim is accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by underpaying travel nurses for overtime work. It’s not the first time that Maxim has faced legal action. Travel nurses filed a lawsuit for unpaid overtime pay in August 2014. In federal court in California, a lawsuit was filed.
In an effort to quickly fill open positions after the pandemic compounded long-standing labor shortages, hospitals and healthcare facilities in Alaska are turning to a growing — and vital — out-of-state workforce of travel nurses. Today, up to one-third of the nurses employed in Alaska’s emergency departments could be from somewhere other than Alaska.
Specialists in the healthcare sector claim that too few Alaskans are entering the nursing profession as older, exhausted nurses retire or change occupations at a significant rate.
According to Kim McDowell, chief clinical officer of the hospital, Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau rarely had more than five travel nurses on staff at once in 2018 and the majority of the years before. Bartlett now has 24. Early in the epidemic, McDowell noted a “great resignation” that increased the hospital’s dependency on travel nurses and hasn’t been rectified.
Experts feel the state’s reliance on travel nurses has a price. The approach is costly and might drive away permanent full-time employees, who historically make up the foundation of hospital treatment in this area, as well as demoralize them.
According to Jared Kosin, president of Alaska’s hospital association, there are currently close to 6,000 open positions in the healthcare industry in Alaska. Around 1,400 open vacancies for registered nurses are included in that total.
California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) announced that registered nurses at Providence Saint Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California, will hold an informational picket on August 11 to protest the administration’s refusal to address RNs’ serious concerns about ongoing unsafe staffing and to demand that Providence correct ongoing payroll errors resulting in hundreds of nurses missing out on pay.
According to Saint Joseph nurses, Providence is not complying with the safe staffing regulation of California, which requires appropriate RN-to-patient staffing ratios. The number of patients that RNs are expected to care for is too great, and as a result, they are unable to respond to patients’ call lights promptly or take breaks for meals or naps during their 12-hour shifts. There is ongoing pressure on nurses to work more hours. Since January, twenty experienced nurses have resigned, which represents a significant loss of nursing expertise. These RNs assist in educating and guiding aspiring nurses. At the moment, RNs with less than a year of experience are working on various shifts.
The management has received several suggestions from Saint Joseph nurses, but Providence has not provided any short- or long-term solutions for staffing, hiring, or retention.