Travel Nurse Crisis Pay | Trusted Nurse Staffing 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

Questions about travel nurse crisis pay? We’ve created this guide to help you navigate it. Crisis pay travel nursing offers many opportunities for you to travel, learn, and make a great salary. 

During a time of need, you can take advantage of crisis pay while still doing what you love and do best — caring for others

In this overview, you’ll learn everything you need to know about crisis pay, when it’s offered, and how much money you can make.



Table of Contents

What Is Crisis Pay?

Crisis pay is additional pay that is offered to workers when they are needed to work extra hours, typically due to a staffing crisis,or if they’re needed to work in risky conditions. 

Crisis pay is most often offered to workers who society can’t do without. 

These essential workers include:

  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Emergency responders

Crisis Pay: Nursing and Other Healthcare Workers

Crisis pay is designed to ensure that there are enough essential healthcare workers in our hospitals and clinics.

This ensures that the patients can receive quality care in risky conditions (such as during a pandemic) or high demand situations. 

The “crisis pay rate” assignments are perhaps the most well-known and highest-paid nursing travel positions.

4 Situations When Travel Nurse Crisis Pay Is Usually Offered

Travel nurses are already men and women familiar with change and are pros to adapting in different situations. As a travel nurse, you are used to having temporary positions and thrive on change.

A travel nurse working during a time of crisis should be:

  • Flexible
  • Ready to drop everything and go
  • Willing and able to help in any way possible
  • Supportive of colleagues 

In times of need — pandemics, disasters, and shortages — travel nurses are well equipped to rise to the occasion. 

Crisis pay positions are temporary and often short term. A crisis nurse contract will be 2-6 weeks typically, but it could be extended as needed. 

Are you  a travel nurse interested in working for crisis pay? The only way to obtain a crisis nurse contract is through a staffing agency. Trusted Nurse Staffing is a staffing agency equipped with the knowledge and expertise to walk you through getting started. You can click below to create a free profile.




#1: Pandemic Crisis Pay

During a pandemic (such as with COVID-19), it’s “all hands on deck.”

Pandemics can be a scary and uncertain time for anyone in the healthcare field. For travel nurses, it means dropping everything to go head-on into what others are hiding from. 

But with this increased risk comes crisis pay. And it can be quite lucrative for a travel nurse. Keep reading — we’ll discuss pay more below.

#2: Census Spikes (Seasonal Surges)

Even when it’s not a pandemic, there are times throughout the year when travel nurses are needed more than others. 

These needs typically involve a large group of adolescents celebrating that they’re out of school — spring break, summer vacation, and winter break. Families also use this time for family vacations and large family reunions. Snowbirds flock from colder states in the winter and gather together in the warmth of Florida or Arizona.

The relaxation and fun of vacation spots lure many tourists and can cause local hospitals to be stressed-out and understaffed

That’s where travel nurses (and crisis pay) come in. Plus, the beach isn’t such a bad place for an assignment.


Crisis Pay for Traveling Nurses


#3: Disaster Response

A travel nurse responding to a disaster would typically have even less time to prepare than during a pandemic. 

Disasters could include:

  • Mass shootings
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Bombings 

After any of these, hospitals become focal points. After the Boston Marathon bombing, nurses and doctors ended up treating 144 patients in several hospitals.

Potentially even more calamitous than shootings or bombings are natural disasters such as:

  • Earthquakes
  • Mudslides
  • Wildfire
  • Tornadoes 

These leave dozens to hundreds of victims in their wake. 

Travel nurses are called upon when disaster strikes because they’re highly trained, motivated, and ready to jump in where needed.

#4: Regional Nurse Shortages

Even when there’s no pandemic or natural disaster, some areas (especially rural areas) might have a significant shortage of staff nurses.

That causes what’s called a regional crisis.

The nursing shortage has become a plague throughout the United States, and rural communities are hit harder than their urban counterparts.

When this becomes a crisis, travel nurses can step in to help fill the gaps.

How Competitive Are Crisis Pay Nursing Jobs?

There is a lot of competition to land them. Recruiters tend to focus on filling crisis rate assignments because there is more money involved.

Many recruiters will tell you not to shop around. If you’re offered a crisis pay contract — you should probably take it.

Does Experience Affect Travel Nurse Crisis Pay?

As in many jobs, travel nurses are typically paid more if they have more years of education and experience.

Before you start working as a crisis nurse, you’ll want to gain at least two years of nursing experience.

How Much You Can Expect to Earn For Crisis Pay: Travel Nurse Jobs

Crisis pay can be quite large depending on the location, healthcare system, and contract. 

Often, ICU positions will pay more than medical surgical nurse positions. 

Industry experts suggest that crisis pay rates can be anywhere from 10% to 100% higher than normal travel nurse pay at the same hospital and even more than staff nursing positions. 

Travel nurse job postings have shown rates over $3,000 weekly for ER and/or ICU RNs. These specialties, along with Respiratory Therapy, are in high demand.

Before signing that contract just based on the pay, it’s important to ask a few questions:

  • What is the base rate vs. overtime rate?
  • What is the take-home crisis pay after taxes?
  • Is quarantine pay included if needed?
  • Is there any additional hazard pay?
  • Is there a housing stipend?


Guide to Crisis Pay for Travel Nurses


If You Are Thinking About Taking a Crisis Pay Nursing Position, Consider the Following

The thought of a substantial pay increase may sound too good to be true. 

While it’s certainly true, and a great way for travel nurses to help communities when disaster strikes, it’s imperative that you pause and consider a few things before signing a contract.

The Need Is Often Immediate

Can you be there in two weeks? One? 

Are you currently in the middle of a travel nurse contract? Breaking a contract can affect your future travel nursing career.

It’s essential to consider your current standing, as well as your future career, before taking a crisis pay contract just for the money. The contract will be short-lived, and you still have to have a good standing as a travel nurse for future contracts.

Hospitals Are Not Required to Honor Crisis Pay Contracts

Travel nurses receiving crisis pay see significantly higher hourly rates than a regular hospital nurse. Because of this, they’ll typically be the first to be canceled when it’s time to cut back on numbers. 

So it’s important to be wary when signing these contracts. This is why it’s crucial to be with an agency you can trust.




Your Shifts May Be Very Unpredictable

Travel nurses often work the night shift, but in a crisis, the schedule can vary greatly.

Crisis nurse contracts usually require nurses to work more than 36 hours a week. Most will be a minimum of 48 to 60 hours, but some might be even more. OT is paid for additional hours over 40 a week, but it’s worth keeping in mind before applying

It can take a toll on your body, both physically and emotionally. 

You won’t be able to pick your schedule during these positions. Complete flexibility is expected.

You Will Likely Need to Work Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Crisis travel nurses are expected to help in any way possible. 

This can include floating to other units in the hospital or even sister hospitals. Being a team player and ready to jump into action when needed is necessary to be a crisis nurse. 

You might not be used to working in an ER or ICU, but that’s often where crisis nurses are needed most.

Crisis Pay Travel Nurse Jobs May Be Accompanied by Housing Challenges

Like with everything else surrounding a crisis, there’s a level of uncertainty when it comes to finding travel nurse housing. 

Finding housing within such a short time-frame can be a significant stressor

A good staffing agency will help you relieve this stress. For any travel nurses who use our staffing agency, TNS recruiters work hard to assist with housing needs. 

If you’re accepting a crisis pay job, consider these tips when looking for housing:

  • Rely on your agency for help
  • Prepare for hotel stays
  • Expect the unexpected 
    • Consider packing a few extra basics like a coffee maker or camping chair
  • Prepare the necessities
    • Take toilet paper, water, and other items that can be scarce during a crisis

How to Find Crisis Pay Nursing Jobs: Trusted Nurse Staffing

If you’re looking for crisis pay nursing jobs, then you’ll need a reliable staffing agency that has your back. At TNS, our recruits will help you uncover all the benefits of travel nursing and will help you every step of the way —  whether it’s a crisis pay job or a job that will itch your travel bug. 

We acknowledge the challenges of working on the road, which is why you’ll enjoy the highest pay rates (even during non-crisis time) and the best benefits packages in the industry when you become a traveling nurse with Trusted Nurse Staffing.

We’ve been recognized as one of the fastest-growing travel nurse staffing agencies in the country for good reason. We put our nurses first. 

Create your free profile today.