Travel Nursing Specialties In Demand For Fall and Winter
These travel nursing specialties remain in demand as COVID-19 continues to impact healthcare in the United States. And while the initial panic has quelled, the hard truth is that the overall infection rates have not. According to the most recent data, new infection rates are actually rising in the United States — which means that travel nurses may be seeing a new surge in demand all over again this fall.
What Will COVID-19 Look Like in the Fall?
No one can completely predict what the novel coronavirus will do this fall, but public health experts are definitely cautious.
Factors such as other competing viruses (including seasonal flu), more people gathering indoors thanks to cold weather, holiday travel, and of course, in-person school starting in many states could all play a role in driving infections up again.
Europe has already declared that it is seeing a second wave of coronavirus and some areas have implemented restrictions. Israel, for instance, has imposed a second national lockdown in an attempt to stop the infection from spreading and after seeing a rise in infections allegedly driven by younger people, Italy has closed dance venues and nightclubs.
And while we can’t predict exactly what will happen with COVID-19 in the fall and winter months, what we know about how viruses work in the colder seasons definitely points to infection rates spiking and symptoms potentially becoming more severe. For example, the air is drier in the cold, allowing viruses to travel more easily, people’s immune systems naturally decline slightly in the winter, and there just isn’t as much to do outdoors, driving more people to gather inside without fresh air.
There are also additional considerations, such as that depression tends to increase in colder months, people may be fatigued over restrictions, and chronic health conditions that have been neglected as a result of people not seeking care during the pandemic may start to add up.
Travel Nursing Specialities Needed This Fall and Winter
All that to say: we don’t exactly know what travel nursing jobs will be in high demand this fall, but based on what we already know about the coronavirus and what is likely to happen, here are some of the specialties you can expect to be needed.
Interestingly enough, case management has been a rising specialty in the middle of the pandemic. There are different aspects to case management, but in general, they have been more in-demand as patient cases have become more complex due to pandemic restrictions. For instance, a case manager might be needed to help patients and families navigate health crises when no visitors are allowed in a hospital. Or, patients who will be going home with ongoing medical needs may require additional assistance navigating virtual appointments or finding services.
We’ve seen travel nursing positions around the $2.5K/week wage in Wisconsin, and some of the areas of the country that have been hit by wildfire as well have been reporting new needs for case management travel nurses. And in some areas of the country, there are also opportunities for remote case managers, so ironically, your next travel nursing position may not even require travel.
ICU and MICU
In general, demand tends to be high for ICU and MICU travel nurses because ICU is a specialty that’s always needed — and in a pandemic, can change in an instant.
California has openings for night shift general ICU/MICU travel nurses in the $5.5K/week range, while Oklahoma is offering day shift for around $4.7K/week.
We are learning more about how COVID affects the vascular system, and some patients have experienced vascular complications, including blood clots and DVTS. Hemodialysis has been needed for some patients, in addition to regular dialysis patients, and travel nurses are wanted in some states to help meet those needs.
Nurses with hemodialysis experience willing to travel to Massachusetts can get perks such as tuition reimbursement and PTO that can be cashed in for pay. And a bonus: most hemodialysis positions are day shift only if nights just aren’t your thing.
Telemetry is also high in demand, as it’s the first stop for many patients admitted with COVID or COVID-like symptoms for monitoring. In California, telemetry travel RN positions have been seen for as high as $5.5K on night shift and over to the $3K range in Massachusetts right now.
ER positions aren’t as high in-demand at the moment as they were at the height of the pandemic, but there are current positions open in New York for an average of $3K/week, Texas for just over $3.6K/week, and even as far-flung as Missouri, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Oregon, and Illinois for right around the $3K or just under mark. And again, with the fall approaching, especially in eastern states, ER positions could become high in-demand once again.
Louisiana has one of the highest weekly wages for Med-Surg right now, at $4K for a night shift position. Iowa is offering $3.7K/week, and Missouri, Connecticut, and South Dakota all have around $3K/week openings currently as well.
Labor and Delivery
One aspect of medicine that is not affected by a global pandemic? Having babies. And in fact, if you do your math, you may predict that the months of December and January may just see a baby boom as a result of that extra time at home starting in March. Massachusetts has openings for $3.7K/week, while New York is offering $3/5K/week.
How Travel Nurses Can Be Prepared for the Fall
As we have learned, the data with COVID-19 infections is constantly changing. There has even been a report of the first reinfection in the U.S., which is news that we definitely don’t need, but there you have it. So one of the hardest parts for hospitals is being ready for what the numbers will look like in two weeks from no — not just right now.
The virus carries an approximately 2-week incubation period, as well as a sometimes delayed onset of more serious symptoms that could require hospitalization, so new infections today could turn into new hospitalizations in weeks or even months from now.
That means that if you are considering a travel nursing position for the fall, it is best to be prepared. Especially if you have a specialty skill or experience in one of the in-demand positions, it’s a good idea to update your resume, speak with your nursing recruiter, and let them know what areas you are interested in getting hired in. You’ll also want to be sure you have your compact nursing license ready-to-go in case you decide to work in a state that allows it.
Additionally, if you are interested in expanding your skillset to one of the more in-demand specialties, now is a good time to pursue certification in those areas so you can add that to your travel nursing resume. More specialization means more money when it comes to travel nursing jobs, so follow your passion so you can give back and take care of your patients while reaching your highest potential. Talk to a recruiter about available assignments for your specialty.