Seasonal Travel Nursing

Many RN’s seeking travel nursing jobs have contacted our offices greatly concerned over the diminished number of available assignments throughout the USA. For that reason, this week’s blog article is on seasonal staffing norms and how to best position yourself to get an assignment as they come available (and they WILL come available).


The arrival of 2009 will mark my 12th year in the nurse staffing business. I can tell you one thing for certain. Every year in the 4th quarter (without fail) nursing job orders diminish.

There are a few reasons for this:

1) Hospital budgets – the “year end” phenomenon – back in the last century  when I worked as an ER manager, the 4th quarter (October – December) was the time of year when budgets came under scrutiny. That still is the case today.

All things budgetary will be looked at. Anything that exceeds budget, will suffer cuts. In a market where nurses are growing more and more scarce, nurse staffing budgets or “agency usage” always exceeds the amount hospitals are willing to budget. For that reason, hospitals (in the 4th quarter) always cut their agency usage to bring the amount spent in line with what is budgeted.

2) The Holiday “OT” Phenomenon – Simply put – staff RN’s tend to pick up extra shifts in November and December to pay for Christmas gifts (holiday gifts for the politically correct).

3) The Holiday “low census” phenomenon – any elective procedures are put off until the new year whenever possible. Also, patients always push for early discharges during the holidays, so that they can be home with family. This “low census” phenomenon means lowered staffing needs.


Just like I know that orders diminish in Q4, I can tell you that by the end of January, orders will ramp back up. You need to know that travel nursing is a fiercely competitive business. When assignments come available, there are sometimes as many as 20 candidates submitted to one assignment. Some of these candidates are submitted within a minute or two of the order being made available.

There are ways to position yourself for success when orders come available. Follow these steps to be successful:

1) Complete your profile – When assignments come available, it is impossible to submit you if your profile has not been completed. Talk to your recruiter about what constitutes a “complete” profile.
2) Pre-authorize submissions – unless you are available 24/7, it is in your best interest to pre-authorize your recruiter to submit your profile to jobs which meet certain criteria (i.e. I will accept any 13 week ER assignment anywhere in Arizona – midnights – that starts by February 1st).

Often assignments close submissions after reaching a threshold. We hear all the time, “I don’t need any more profiles on this assignment, I have 15 to choose from”. If it takes us 8 hours to reach you for a choice assignment, you may not get an interview.

3) Be flexible – setting forth really narrow “absolutes” make it hard for your recruiter to match you up to good assignments. Some absolutes are unavoidable, but whenever possible, be as flexible as you can be.

Have a wonderful and prosperous 2009. Happy traveli

Receive jobs alerts by saving your search!

Filter by:

  • Shift
  • Pay
  • Location
  • Specialty
  • Start Date

And receive only the jobs relevant to you in your inbox daily, weekly or monthly!