COVID-19 changed the travel nurse landscape overnight. Rates skyrocketed, demands were high, and nurses were riding the wave, all while dealing with the effects of a pandemic. Now, as COVID rates drop and restrictions are lifted, we see the landscape change again.
How quickly will the Travel Nurse industry return to what we consider “normal,” and what does this mean for nurses?
What’s Happening Right Now?
The industry is returning to what we now consider “pre-covid” rates. While there is still some higher demand and rates in larger cities across the country, your typical travel nurse contract rate is dropping steadily.
We’re also seeing an increased demand for different specialties, such as OR, PACU, Dialysis or Cath Lab, as hospitals open back up to regular procedures. The most popular specialties for travel nurses (ICU, Med Surg, Tele, etc.) are still, and always will be in demand. But if you were unable to find travel contracts during the height of the pandemic due to your specialty, now is an excellent time to dive back in and see what’s available.
How to Prepare
The best way to adjust to this change is to plan early, be flexible, and have open communication with your recruiter. This industry change can be frustrating, but it’s important to understand why it’s happening and what you can do to lessen the financial stress.
If money is your primary motivation to be a travel nurse, be open to different contracts, as there won’t be as many high-paying opportunities available as before.
Also, keep in mind that you may have to wait a little longer for an opportunity to come up that fits your needs. Keep an open mind and plan for a little extra time to find a new contract.
Build up your Savings
If you haven’t been already, now is a good time to start saving a little extra from your paycheck. If you’re on a higher-paying contract now, odds are the next one you take won’t be paying as much.
Be sure to budget and plan for a slight rate decrease as soon as possible to lessen the stress before you start a new contract.
Extend, if you can
We highly suggest accepting the offer if you’ve been offered an extension. This will allow you to see how the industry changes over the next few months and adjust accordingly while still being on contract.
Keep Open Communication
Talking with your recruiter and keeping an open line of communication will benefit you greatly in the end. When high-paying contracts come in, dozens of nurses are submitted to that position from different agencies. Keep your recruiter up to date on what you’re looking for so you can be submitted as soon as possible before the job closes.
Travel Nurses are known for their ability to adapt to changing situations quickly. COVID-19 brought on a new “normal” for everyone and will still bring change as COVID rates decrease. It’s hard to say what will come in the next few months, but it’s possible to ride the wave and still have an amazing travel nurse experience.