Many Staff Nurses Are Turning To Travel Nursing Because of Burnout
The COVID pandemic required a lot of changes, especially for nurses. Now, over a year into the pandemic, many staff nurses are turning to travel nursing as a way to recover from the stress of the past year and to earn a higher pay rate for their hard work.
Nurses Leaving the Workforce
The coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in what was already a nursing shortage. Nursing shortages were already predicted to reach 175,900 openings for RNs each year through 2029. Now, factors like nurse burnout and mental health strain, along with many nurses leaving the workforce to care for their families, are expected to increase that shortage.
Rachel Ellsworth, recently profiled by CNN, is one example. Ellsworth had been a staff ICU nurse for 10 years in Florida. She went from considering her nursing career a “calling” to quitting after working all through the pandemic.
“It broke me,” she told CNN. “It was just too much.”
Ellsworth is not alone. As she pointed out, there are many more nurses who will be facing mental health repercussions in the coming months as they shift from “survival” mode to reflecting on what they’ve been through – and what the future holds for them as nurses.
What the Numbers Show
So far, the data we have is not painting a promising picture for resolving the nursing shortage. In fact, it seems the country will be needing a lot of nurses – and fast. Along with the pandemic, nursing shortages will be compounded by current RNs retiring, educational gaps for new nurses, and high turnover rates. Healthcare facilities will need to work with nurses to create working environments that are inviting to nurses who may be reluctant to return to work after the pandemic.
Fortunately, hospitals are aware of the nurse shortages that lie ahead. A survey of over 100 hospital executives and senior leaders across the U.S. by Avant Healthcare Professionals found increasing numbers of open RN jobs. From 2019 to 2021, there was a major increase in hospitals expecting openings in staff nurse positions. For instance, 17% of respondents reported having more than 25 staff RN positions open in 2019, but 36% reported that amount in 2021. According to their survey, there will be nearly 80,000 nursing positions vacant by 2023.
What Comes Next? Travel Nursing Might be the Break You’re Looking For
Travel nursing can be a great way to make a change in your nursing career — and to recover from some of the burn out you may have experienced due to COVID as a staff nurse.
You can earn a higher paycheck than many staff RNs, get full benefits including health insurance and retirement, travel to new places (you can also find local travel nursing jobs!) or try different units or shifts you may have never tried before. The best part? If you don’t like it, the assignment is temporary! Once your 12-14 week assignment is up, you have no obligation to continue.
If you’re an RN with some kind of hospital experience, travel nursing is an option that is always available to you and it can provide the ultimate career flexibility because it can be a career that you create. Want to work full-time? You can do that. Only interested in talking on a few assignments a year? Yup, that works too. Want to be sure you only work the units you feel comfortable on? You got it.
When it comes to travel nursing, you get to choose your next assignment. That can be a great benefit, especially coming off the type of traumatic experiences that many staff nurses experienced during the pandemic. So if you’re considering leaving your staff nursing position in the near future, consider talking to a recruiter so you can explore what travel nursing has to offer.