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How much do travel nurses make?

The concept of travel nurses is big business in the United States. There are agencies with recruiters and intermediaries. Around 50,000 mobile nurses are currently on duty—excellent help for hospitals in the corona crisis.

Jessica Ybarra is a beginner if you will. At least as far as her path as a travel nurse is concerned. She started her first job in November at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

“I always wanted to do that.”

Working as a travel nurse has always been her dream. She says: “I always wanted to do this, but for a long time I decided against it and in favor of my family. My grandmother is 89 and I took care of her for a long time. I was just the one who was always there. “

But everything changed with Covid because suddenly, Jessica is putting her family at significant risk. When the first cases surfaced at the Austin hospital where she works, she moved away from home to endanger her grandmother.

The pandemic as an opportunity

When it becomes clear that the pandemic will not be over in a few weeks or months, it dawns on you that now perhaps the right time has come to take the plunge.

Financial reasons also play a significant role: “It was clear to me that with the job I would not be able to save enough to continue my education at the university, to buy a house at some point and also to pay off the debts that had accumulated.”

Travel nurses – an unmanageable market

And then Jessica does what is obvious: she asks former colleagues who have decided to take this career step, dives into Facebook pages for Travel Nurses, listens around, and collects recommendations.

The market for this type of nurse, who temporarily helps out in hospitals, is enormous in the USA and, at first glance, unmanageable. Hospitals commission agencies, which in turn have recruiters who take care of interested parties and hire them in the best case. They are called Travel Nurse Across America, Triage Staffing, or Advantis Medical.

“I knew it was going to be difficult.”

Travel nurses go through an orientation session in the hospital, but they have to tackle from the first shift on as if they had never been anywhere else.

“They didn’t like me very much there,” he says. “And I immediately learned: never sit down in your first week. Nobody should see you sitting. Make sure you always have something to do. If another nurse needs help, you take over. That’s why you’re there. “

Different pay leads to conflicts.

It can be challenging for several reasons between the regular staff and the travel nurses who only come on for a limited time—the main reason: the payment.

Travel nurses receive significantly more money, an average of 25 percent more. Now during the pandemic, you can earn double that. In addition – depending on the contract – there is health insurance, subsidies for housing, meals, and even parking fees.

“That can be incredibly frustrating.”

She told the radio station NPR: “We have the permanent employees who are doing their best in really difficult conditions right now during the pandemic. And they had to live with the fact that their hospital management refuses to raise wages or to pay a hazardous bonus. And then you see these travel nurses, travel nurses who earn several times their salary and that can be incredibly frustrating. “

“It has advantages for future planning.”

“It’s incredibly exhausting right now,” says Oscar Garza. “But it also has advantages for future planning because I can save so much money for my family or my future home.”

He is 31 years old and, judging by his descriptions. He is living his dream as a travel nurse.

“My first stop was in Houston, Texas, then I was at Stanford University Hospital in California for a full year, then in Denver, Colorado, then in Seattle in the northwest. “

New friends in every place: How much do travel nurses make

In the meantime, he has got used to being “the new one” now and then. But so far, he has made new friends and friendly colleagues in every place. But the work during the corona crisis also left its mark on him.

“A lot of people die wherever you look,” he says. “I’ve had a couple of patients who have died, their families on the other end of the phone line.”

Enjoy the flexibility of the job: How much do travel nurses make

Oscar thinks he would like to “arrive” somewhere and start a family in the long term. But at the moment, he still enjoys the flexibility of the job a lot. He is currently on his way to his next career in Colorado and plans to spend the summer in Alaska. There are a total of four million nurses in the United States.

 She is the senior nurse at the information portal for healthcare professions Wolters Kluwer Health.

“One reason for the shortage is that we are getting older,” she explains. “There are just not enough nurses who can take care of all the people. 

Lots of applicants, too few trainers: How much do travel nurses make

Then there is the lack of supplies. There are applicants but too few training positions. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 80,000 qualified applicants did not get a chance in 2019 because of few instructors, clinical places, and classrooms.

Colleagues on time and in emergencies

This is why travel nurses will continue to be an integral part of the healthcare system in the United States. It is a dream for those who like to travel, who appreciate flexibility and independence, and a relief for those who need help on their respective ward—temporary colleagues who help together in an emergency.
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