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Travel Nursing: What’s Changed (and Hasn’t Changed) Since COVID-19

by CoreMedical Group


In the wake of the global pandemic, demand has surged for qualified travel nurses to fill vacancies in hospitals and healthcare facilities across the nation. While the role of a travel nurse has remained the same, it’s no secret that the landscape of the field has been affected by the COVID-19 global health crisis.

We consulted with some of our leaders and colleagues here at Core who have worked day-in and day-out with our travel nurses and healthcare providers to uncover…

  • what aspects have changed in travel nursing
  • what aspects have stayed the same in travel nursing
  • top attributes today’s travel nurses need
  • and advice for first-time travel nurses entering the field.

As a medical staffing agency, we continue to be committed to helping all our candidates navigate the new opportunities and challenges within healthcare.


4 Ways Travel Nursing Has Changed Since 2019


1.     Higher Compensation for Travel Nurses

Demand for travel nurses has increased exponentially. It’s the highest we’ve seen in 20 years! With this surplus of nursing assignments comes remarkably high wages in comparison to previous years.

While this is unfortunately due to shrinking numbers among permanent nursing teams, longer hours, and increased workplace risk in the wake of the pandemic, travel nurses are being compensated well for their skill, care, and willingness to serve in frontline situations.

2.     Quicker Paths to Job Placement

As a result of COVID-19 and the need to place travel nurses quickly in hotspots nationwide, states have enacted emergency protocols to grant licensure across state lines. For example, it previously took 3 months or more to receive a license in the state of California as a travel RN. Now, a qualified nurse can be placed within a week. These emergency measures are still in place allowing travel nurses to accept assignments in their chosen locations faster than ever before.

3.     Stronger Emphasis on Mental Health of Medical Staff

The pandemic has affected us all, and that’s especially true for our frontline healthcare workers. With the weight of what we’ve faced together, the mental health of all our candidates is a top priority for CoreMedical and the healthcare providers we serve. Our industry-leading benefits include mental health services, available to our candidates and their families starting day one of any travel assignment.

4.     Greater Need for Flexibility in the Workplace

We’ve all seen the world change on a dime. With this, travel nurses need to be prepared for anything and ready to adapt. Safety protocols and risk measures can change at every facility. An influx of patients can surge at any moment. There’s also been a shift toward in-home care during this time. Travel nursing has always required agility, but in this new season, keeping calm and remaining flexible is essential.


Top 3 Traits Today’s Travel Nurses Need

We’re frequently asked what qualities an ideal travel nurse possesses. While we could rattle off an extensive list of helpful skills to have and personality traits that thrive in a travel nursing setting, we think it boils down to three prominent attributes: compassion, adaptability, and dependability.

1.     Compassion

Even when they’re overwhelmed, travel nurses are present for their patients, advocate for the best care, and demonstrate deep compassion. It’s one of the things we all appreciate most about the courageous ones who choose this profession—their deep love for what they do and the ones they serve.

2.     Adaptability

A travel nurse today needs to be able to “go with the flow” more than ever before due to changing requirements, unexpected surges of patients, new protocols, and fluctuating safety measures. If you can stay flexible and remain calm in the midst of changing circumstances, travel nursing may be the perfect professional outlet for you!

3.     Dependability

A travel nursing assignment is only available because there is an existing staffing gap at a facility. Hospitals are relying on travel candidates to fill staffing shortages in order to provide continuity of care to patients. It’s imperative for travel nurses to be on-time, reliable individuals that can be counted on to faithfully meet all the requirements of a travel contract.


Advice for First-Time Travel Nurses in a COVID-19 World

What’s our advice for those considering travel nursing? This is what 3 members of CoreMedical’s leadership team had to say:

Karen Nicolls, Director of QA:

“It’s a great opportunity because there’s so much demand right now! The choice of assignments is higher than ever before. But you can’t be afraid to take chances, be flexible, and be adaptable!”

Vinny Batza, Director of Travel Services:

“When you choose a medical staffing agency, make sure you have a recruiter you feel comfortable with and can talk about difficult things. That can make or break a contract for you.”

Aram Hampoian, CEO Core Medical Group:

“Do it! It’s a great way to experience new communities, make new friendships, and help some much-needed patients along the way!”


The Heart of Travel Nursing Remains the Same

Comparing pre-vs-post COVID, the heart of travel nursing remains the same. It’s about finding the best, most qualified clinicians for every nursing vacancy and ensuring every patient receives the highest level of care. Despite the obstacles and hurdles we face in healthcare, this is the core of what we do—placing the best RNs in the areas of greatest need across the country—and that hasn’t changed.


Start the Journey to Becoming a Travel Nurse

Want to learn more about travel nursing? Check out our comprehensive guide here. We cover everything you need to know to get started, including interview tips, answers to your credentialing questions, information about pay and benefits, and more!

Ready to speak with a recruiter? Contact us today!


Travel Nursing Guide


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