Travel Nursing Post-COVID

Travel nursing. It sounds cool and all, but what is it? Can I make money doing it? Is it steady work? This short article intends to answer some of the most common questions about travel nursing.

Travel nursing is a form of agency nursing (i.e. nurses who work for an agency that then hires them out, rather than working directly for their employer). Travel nurses (aka travelers) provide temporary fill-in assistance, usually when a hospital or other facility is short-staffed, either due to losing large numbers of their staff or because of an unusual surge in demand/patient load. Travelers usually work a thirteen-week contract in one location, then move on to the next.

With the current pandemic, there has been an unprecedented demand for travel nursing, especially for those who are willing to serve COVID-positive patients in situations with limited resources. With the heightened demand, pay rates have risen commensurately. Anecdotally, $120 per hour is not unusual for nurses working in intensive care units in the middle of an outbreak.

So. What does this mean for the intrepid travel nurse? Will there still be demand after COVID?

Absolutely yes. Travel nursing has been around for a long time, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.

If you have the experience to begin now, it’s a great time to get into it, since the rates are higher than they’ve ever been. However, even if you are just graduating and still need several years of critical care experience before you sign your first contract, the demand is pretty certain to stay strong until then. The current high rates are unlikely to stay, but travelers have always been able to command a premium for their ability to step into any unit and start working with only minimal orientation. If that sounds like you, go for it!