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Nursing Shortage: Is It Real or Imagined

 

The Travel Nursing Paradox

I am sure you’ve heard more than once that there is a nursing shortage “out there” and it is only expected to get worse.  You’ve heard about it…perhaps some of you are even living it. So what is everyone else seeing, hearing…living?

What The Experts Are Reporting

There is a general agreement among the various governmental agencies, professional nursing organizations, and educational institutions that there is a nursing shortage and that it will only worsen over time.

How bad is it now and how bad will it get according to the experts?  A 2007 report by the American Hospital Association determined that 116,000 nurses are currently needed nationwide to fill all of the vacant nursing jobs.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016.   In another study, 55% of surveyed nurses indicated their intention to retire between 2011 and 2020.  With a shortage of nursing school faculty to educate the next generation of nurses and our aging population base, these are grim statistics indeed.

What Does Reality Report?

How does the reported shortage impact the travel nursing industry and the individual travel nurse today?  Shouldn’t travel nurses be able to pick and choose any assignment or location they want, anytime they want?  The simple answer is “Logic would say yes, but Reality dictates No”!  Regardless of the consensus concerning the overall shortage, the current reality is that the pool of travel nurses or potential travel nurses is constantly shifting.  Most travelers want the choice locations.  Hospitals are often reluctant to authorize travel positions and competition for these open positions becomes extremely intense.  Put simply, there is no shortage of travel nurse candidates.  One hospital group in the Sunbelt region reports that within 15 minutes of posting an open travel position, they normally receive 7-10 RN candidate profiles and may ultimately receive up to 30 profiles for consideration.  This is not at all what you’d expect given the shortage but it is the reality that any potential traveler should be aware of and prepare for.

Next month I plan to address the question: “What can a travel nurse do to maximize the odds of winning the position?”

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