The salaries of travel nurses are falling, hospitals are still looking for nurses


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Hospital staff is improving as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States reach record lows and this trend is leading to a reduction in the salaries of travel nurses who have secured lucrative contracts during previous increases.

What you need to know

  • Travel nurse contracts are becoming less lucrative
  • Hospital staff are improving, officials said
  • Lawmakers are considering nursing legislation after COVID

Justine Offutt, 36, an emergency nurse in northeast Ohio, said she left her emergency nurse’s position about a year ago and switched to travel nursing to earn higher wages through travel contracts, ranging from $ 90 to $ 115 an hour at the height of the pandemic. .

“They paid ‘crisis rates’.” That’s what they called them, “she said. “But he’s slowed down as far as COVID is concerned, so the need isn’t necessarily so great.”

Rates fell as the omikron retreated, but Offutt said it planned to continue to sign travel contracts as jobs became increasingly attractive than permanent positions. She said hospitals were basically bleeding money for travel nurses, but many facilities did not have enough permanent staff to move away from travel nurses.

Chief Clinical Officer of Wexner Medical Center, Ohio Andrew Thomas explained that the problems with the nursing staff persisted. Older nurses have retired or left the bed, suppressed by the stress of COVID-19, and still nurses have moved to travel nursing, reporters told last week.

“Frankly, some have moved to the travel area because there were places in the country and certainly in our state that needed temporary staff,” he said. “I think it’s often younger people who have the freedom to move to another city for three months. They don’t have to be tied to family, children or other things, and the pay for these jobs has been high enough to fill these gaps. “

Thomas expects some travel nurses to return to permanent tasks in the coming months, with very lucrative travel contracts mostly a thing of the past.

“I think some of them will start to cool down. I think some people will probably go back to their routine work and we are also working really hard – we are trying to make sure that everyone who is here as a traveler we bring in understands the benefits of working here. Maybe they will log in permanently, “he said.

Offutt said travel nurses are reluctant to work permanently for hospitals. They feel that during the pandemic they were overworked and underpaid, she said.

“They deliberately had few sisters because the less they pay for their work, the greater the return. They’ll get over it when they say, ‘Sister Suzie, instead of taking our typical two patients, oh, we’re throwing another one in there.’ And it’s been like this for some time and it’s getting worse and worse, “she said. “It all just added and we’re sick and tired.”

Tammy Reno, 51, a nurse who worked on a bed in the Cincinnati area on the floor when she hit COVID-19, said she left her job in late 2020 when nurses were pressured to work overtime and deal with an unsustainable nurse. patient ratios were too high.

“We had to sign up for overtime, and if we appealed for overtime, it was against our attendance, so we were expected to do so in order not to have bad patient conditions, but they said that if no one signed up, there would potentially be we could have seven, eight, nine patients, which is completely dangerous, “she said.

She has moved to case management nursing and is currently working in Toledo on the role of nursing in case management travel. Reno expects her next contract to pay less to improve staffing.

Congressman Tim Ryan (D), running for the Senate, joined as a co-sponsor said in a statement to Spectrum News last month on a bill that would set minimums for the ratio of nurses to patients.

“Our nurses and health workers have made the pandemic unimaginable and have worked harder than ever to make our communities work,” Ryan said. “Even before this pandemic, our nurses were stretched out and provided their patients with life-saving care. In the reconstruction after the COVID-19 pandemic, we must work to ease the tensions imposed on our nurses by adopting legislation requiring a nurse-patient relationship. Safe staffing standards not only protect our nurses, but ensure better and more targeted care for their patients. ”

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D) introduced similar legislation in the Senate in May 2021.

Legislators are also monitoring changes in the field of travel nursing. A bilateral group of almost 200 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the White House at the beginning of the year with a request from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Agency to “investigate the potential anti-competitive activities of some nursing agencies”, which have cost hospitals “much higher than before the pandemic”.

In addition, some opportunities for travel nurses are being closed as states cancel emergency protocols that allow nurses outside the state to obtain an exemption that exempts them from obtaining a nursing license for the state they traveled to, Offutt said.

In January 2023, it will be Ohio join the multi-state licensing compact from dozens of states that provide nurses with flexibility of movement.

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