Chaunie Brusie BSN, RN
Chaunie Brusie BSN, RN
March 27, 2020 - 4 min read

Update: Growing Travel Nursing Demand in New York

The New York area has been the most affected by COVID-19 in the United States. Already crippled under the weight of patients who need care from COVID-19, the governor sounded the alarm on March 24th that the peak infection rate is still about two weeks away. That means that as bad as NY is, it’s going to get even worse.

And that means that the need for travel nurses in the New York area is at a critical level.

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Why Travel Nurse Demand In New York Is Growing Right Now

As of Wednesday, NYC infection rates had surpassed 15,000 and officials admitted that efforts to contain the virus simply had come too late. Right now, infection rates are doubling every three days, a number that places the need for hospital beds at double what the state actually has available.

“We’re not slowing it — and it is accelerating on its own,” NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference. “We’re not looking at a freight train. We’re looking at a bullet train because the numbers are going up that quickly.”

There has also been a lot of fear, even among travel nurses normally willing to work. According to the New York Times, unfortunately, some travel nurses have been reluctant to travel to hard-hit COVID-19 affected areas, like New York. One nursing staffing agency director NYT that an “unprecedented number” of travel nurses that are regulars with their agency are backing out of offered assignments in New York.

With the rise in the number of people who will need care as a result of the virus, there is also a dire need for nurses to actually perform that care. Many nurses already working in the NY area are exhausted, burned out, or may be under quarantine themselves after initial exposure — especially because in the early days of the infection, there has not been enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent those nurses from getting infected.

The good news is, however, that private companies are stepping up to the plate to ensure hard-hit areas are getting more PPE. For instance, 3M has sent half a million N95 masks to Seattle and New York.

What Travel Nurse Opportunities Are Available in New York

Virtually any nursing opportunity you are interested in is available in NY right now — staffing agencies are advertising any shift, any hour, along with expeditated clearing and licensing processing. One nurse recruiter tells that in the New York area, there is a high need for ER and critical care nurses especially in the Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New York City areas.

It may sound somewhat crass to say it, but at a time like this, if you’re willing to work in NY, you may get to get to choose exactly what kind of shift you are willing to work. Want to only work days? Only have time for 4-hour shifts? Prefer to work strictly on an on-call basis? Chances are, if you’re willing to work, the hospitals in the area will take any help they can get.

Although travel nursing positions in COVID-19 affected areas have been averaging around the $3-4K per week levels, as the demand goes even higher, pay offers are also starting to increase drastically too.

For instance, the public Facebook group New York Nurse Opportunities lists several travel RN posts in the New York area to connect nurses directly with travel nursing opportunities. One job in the group from Atlas Med Staff, a NY-based staffing agency lists an ER opening in Forest Hills, New York at a whopping $5,582 a week for a 13-week assignment (the pay includes a $70/hourly taxable wage, along with $1,673 non-taxable stipends.)

“Many agencies are posting anywhere from $3,000 to $5,200 per week for nurses,” a nurse recruiter, speaking anonymously, says. “Those include the weekly allowances travelers receive.”

The increased demand for travel nurses also means almost every New York hospital is also asking for LPNs to take on temporary positions, so if you’re an LPN who has had trouble finding travel nurse opportunities in the past, that won’t be the case any longer.

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FAQ: What to Expect as a Travel Nurse in New York

The same nurse recruiter was able to clear up a few other FAQs you may have about working as a travel nurse:

Will your agency provide you with PPE?

“Typically, agencies do not provide PPE,” he says.

What happens if you have to get quarantined?

“Agencies are providing pay if a nurse is forced into quarantine — this will include the pay, weekly allowances, and/or if they had their housing set up with their contract.”

Will you get help with housing?

Yes, and he notes many hotels are offering discounts for healthcare workers at this time.

What are the most in-demand RN positions?

“The ICU and ER are the most critical needs,” he says. “But hospitals and communities are needing screeners and help with testing, which may rise as tests begin to flood the markets.”

How fast can you really get an out-of-state license?

“[There is a] lot of misconception on this one” he explains. Ultimately, it’s up to the hospital if they will accept an out-of-state license. “Usually getting a license can take a few weeks,” he adds. “Only one hospital I am aware of is currently taking out-of-state licensure.”

Is this really a good time to take on a travel RN job?

Bottom line, yes. “People need help, outside of all the contract piece, the pay, the red tape,” he points out. “People need help, other nurses need support… It is a great time to step up for a community, city, or country.”

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