March 29, 2020

Travel Nurse Pay Triples Amid COVID-19 and Hospitals Use These 6 Extreme Hiring Tactics

Travel Nurse Pay Triples Amid COVID-19 and Hospitals Use These 6 Extreme Hiring Tactics

From paying travel nurses over $10,000 per week to pooling nursing students to begging retired RNs and army medics to come back to work  - here’s how hospitals and employment agencies are trying to stay staffed through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have surpassed the 10,000 mark, healthcare facilities are working overtime to try to keep nurses on staff to care for the influx of patients who need care. 

The challenges in staying staffed are numerous--not only are healthcare facilities being overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients who are coming in droves to be tested (with often very limited test kits, leading to long waits and crowds), but the number of patients with severe complications is increasing. As staff are exposed to more infected patients and have less access to PPE to keep them safe, their own risk of infection increases too. And, if a nurse becomes infected--or shows COVID-19 symptoms and is unable to get tested (again, because of a lack of testing kits)--they will have to self-quarantine, further reducing the staff pool. 

All of those staffing challenges have led to hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country falling into almost desperate measures to recruit nurses. 

6 Drastic Ways Nurses Are Being Recruited for COVID-19

Here are just some of the ways that hospitals and healthcare staffing agencies are doing their part to keep nurses on the front lines in the wake of COVID-19: 

1. States are waiving individual state nurse licensure requirements

In states that have declared a state of emergency, there may be exceptions to licensure requirements. This means that it can be easier to bring in travel nurses, or out-of-state nurses who have licensures only in their home state, to allow them to work in an affected area. Some states are also issuing temporary licenses to allow for faster staffing, and many hospitals are waiving certain requirements, like BSN stipulations, for crisis staffing. 

  • New York has recently become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and the state is waiving the state nurse licensing requirements. Anyone with a valid RN license from any state is currently eligible to work in the state. In fact, the state needs to hire over 200 travel nurses fast. If you're able to help, go here to apply! 

2. Retired and non-working RNs are being asked to come back to work

Some areas of the country, such as Westchester County in New York, are begging anyone who has a Registered Nursing license to come work in this time of emergency. That includes all retired RNs and nurses who haven’t worked in a while.

Even outside of direct COVID-19 care at the critical care level, nurses can be employed at other necessary posts, such as nursing home facilities, childcare facilities, and community health programs. 

3. Staffing agencies are paying travel nurses up to $6,000 per week + quarantine pay

Fastaff, a Denver-based nursing staffing agency, told the Denver Business Journal they are getting requests for hundreds of nurses at a time--when they normally only employ 1,000 nationwide at a time. 

  • While some agencies are offering travel nursing positions with crisis pay, many travel RN positions right now with Faststaff are reaching $4K/week, plus potential bonus, sign-on, and quarantine pay. 
  • Even higher pay can be found advertised in this Facebook group by various staffing agencies - as you’ll see, night shift ICU assignments in New York are paying over $6,000 per week right now. 
  • NuWest Healthcare hired hundreds of travel nurses in 2 weeks to work in Washington State. They are now looking for help in some of the hardest-hit hospitals in New York City - travel, housing, and crisis pay is available. Go here to apply. 

4. The army asks retired nurses and medics to help in civilian hospitals 

In an email written by Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, deputy chief of staff for Human Resources Command, requested former service members that served in the medical field to return to active duty. The email specifically asked for help from those who formerly served in the following roles, 

  • Critical Care Officer (60F)
  • Anesthesiologist (60N)
  • Nurse Anesthetist (66F)
  • Critical Care Nurse (66S)
  • Nurse Practitioner (66P), ER Nurse (66T)
  • Respiratory Specialist (68V)
  • Medic (68W)

5. Arkansas Proposes $55 million in nurse pay raises

Governor, Asa Hutchinson, announced a $116M plan for hospitals to help with combating COVID-19. Within the plan, he outlined significant pay raises for nurses - $1,000 additional per month for all nurses in Arkansas and $2,000 per month for nurses who work in facilities with COVID-19 patients. 

6. Student nursing programs policies are being changed

The Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK  is proposing to update its student nurse clinical requirements to allow for student nurses to be permitted to fulfill their clinical requirements while serving as emergency helpers in COVID-19, with “specific conditions of practice to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place.”

And while student nurses in the U.S. have mostly been barred from getting on the ground level through their clinical placements, many student nurses are still employed at healthcare facilities in different capacities, such as techs, clerks, CNAs, and in other roles.  

What the Future Will Hold for Nursing After COVID-19

Clearly, this pandemic has demonstrated that the U.S. healthcare system is in drastic need of some significant improvements. No one truly knows what a post-COVID-19 future will hold, from the economical effects to how it will change the country’s preparation for future viral threats. 

What is for certain, however, is that healthcare will be more important than ever, and if you’re looking for recession-proof employment, nursing will definitely offer you security, stability, and the opportunity to make a difference. Especially for all the people who will remember the pandemic and helpless feeling of living through this pandemic, this could really be the call you’ve been waiting for to go to school for nursing. 

It’s probable that this pandemic will lead to embracing more technology in healthcare, from making nursing school online more accessible for remote learners, but also bringing more opportunities in telehealth available as well. Doctors are already predicting that this pandemic will cause more patients in the future to embrace seeing a doctor online, to prevent future exposures. 

Either way, the point is, if you’ve ever thought about becoming a nurse, chances are, there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved in healthcare in the coming months and years.

There's no time like the present to get started on a nursing career - in fact, most schools offer online programs. 

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