Travel nursing is hotly debated in the healthcare community. Some argue that it prevents increased wages for staff nurses or lures staff nurses from traditional nursing jobs. We see things differently. The benefits of travel nursing far outweigh the drawbacks. Here are three ways travel nursing improves access to healthcare.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nursing shortages are everywhere. Prior to this public health crisis, many stakeholders considered nursing shortages to be a concern that primarily (not exclusively) impacted rural areas. However, the pandemic has shown that the healthcare system is more fragile than we thought.
COVID-19 sent shockwaves through the healthcare community. Frontline health workers like nurses faced ballooning patient loads, long hours, and higher risk of COVID-19 infection than people in many other fields. The result was burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health concerns. Stress from these extreme circumstances even led to increases in suicide among healthcare workers.
In the wake of these catastrophic outcomes, travel nurses picked up the slack. With nurses either quitting their staff jobs or catching COVID-19 and quarantining at home, travel nurses filled in the nursing shortages to keep hospitals and other healthcare facilities going. More patients were able to have access to healthcare thanks for travel nurses stepping up. And the necessity for travel nurses is only expected to increase in the wake of half a million registered nurses expected to retire by the end of this year.
Nursing shortage isn’t a new problem. In fact, it’s been an ongoing issue since 1945. The main concern at this point, other than nurses leaving the profession due to burnout from the pandemic, is the growing elderly population. Experts expect the population of people aged 65 and older to eclipse the number of people under the age of 18 by 2034. This will be the first time the elderly outnumbered children in the United States.
With these increases in the elderly population, also comes an increase in patients who need nursing care. Some communities are feeling the growing population of seniors more than others. However, nursing ratios and graduates don’t just increase because patient populations do. This is where travel nurses come in. They take assignments where they are most needed so patients maintain access to healthcare. Travel nurses have the ability to fill in the gaps until a hospital can increase staff nurse positions in response to these changing population dynamics.
Healthcare facilities must maintain strict nurse-patient ratios to ensure quality care. While ratios vary between states, shortages in staffing don’t. Hospitals, in particular, rely on travel nurses to fill in the gaps and maintain compliance to avoid turning patients away.
Travel nurses are highly skilled so they can step into roles at healthcare facilities quickly. When staff nurses aren’t available—due to illness, crisis, or even strikes—travel nurses are often called on to guarantee continuity of care and access to healthcare. As a result, healthcare facilities are able to make sure their patients continue to receive care even if their regular staff nurses aren’t available. This is imperative because patients shouldn’t be subject to low quality care under any circumstances.
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. They provide beside care and monitoring to the most vulnerable patients, doing their best to make sure patients have positive experiences. Travel nurses are essential to keeping the healthcare industry moving when staff nurses aren’t able to.
If you’re an experienced nurse who wants to increase their income, travel across the United States, and experience different nursing specialties, consider joining us at Advantis Medical. We have assignments in hospitals, trauma centers, and community-based hospitals across the nation. Find your next nursing opportunity with us!