Exploring the Future of Travel Nursing After Covid 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

There is no doubt that Covid changed the landscape of many professions, but possibly none more than the medical industry.

Medical professionals were in the trenches during the pandemic, managing high stress levels, working many hours, and often contracting the virus themselves.

Travel nurses were especially sought after, and the number of travel nurses more than doubled during the pandemic. Even though the pandemic is officially over,  the demand for travel nurses across the globe remains. 

To see the landscape clearly, we’ll take a look at what travel nursing was like before Covid, what travel nursing looks like now, and how travel nurses can prepare to meet future demands.


Table of Contents


What Was Travel Nursing Like Before Covid?

Travel nursing rose in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s when travel nurses began filling in for permanent nurses on maternity leave. Since then travel nursing has continued to grow because of an increasing shortage of nurses due to:

  • An aging nursing population
  • A lack of qualified nursing educators
  • Fewer new nurses entering the field
  • Increased burnout
  • An aging population living longer

Burnout may be one of the leading causes of the nurse shortage both before Covid and especially after Covid. 

According to a pre-pandemic study by Dr. Rachel French, 40% of all RNs report a significant level of burnout. Burnout leads to a shortage of nurses that leads to burnout in the remaining nurses, which leads to an increased shortage. It’s a cycle that’s been running for quite some time.

The average number of travel nurses working before the pandemic was 50,000. And those nurses were making around $1,673 per week.


What Was Travel Nursing Like During Covid?

Travel nursing during Covid was unprecedented in several ways.

The demand for nurses was extremely high. 

In 2020, the demand for nurses rose 35% over the previous year. The number of travel nurses saw a dramatic increase during the pandemic, growing to over 100,000 as the pandemic reached its height, according to Timothy Landhuis, Vice President at Staffing Industry Analysts.

Because of the serious demand for nurses during the pandemic, once a state of emergency was declared, changes in licensure requirements were also made. Some states waived licensure requirements altogether, while others accepted temporary licenses. Nurses came out of retirement, and even nursing students were permitted to treat patients during the peak of the pandemic.

As the demand for nurses rose, salaries rose as well. During the pandemic, travel nurses were earning an average of $124.96 an hour, also according to information from Staffing Industry Analysts.

Though the salary increase was a plus, drawbacks of travel nursing during the pandemic were also felt. 

Stress and emotional trauma followed nurses as they treated critically ill patients and watched the death toll rise. Travel nurses also had to adjust to working in new environments and learning new processes, adding to the already heightened stress levels.


What Is the Future of Travel Nursing After Covid?

The nursing shortage — and thus, the need for more travel nurses — will likely continue to be an issue because the nursing shortage that existed pre-covid still exists for all the reasons previously mentioned.

Travel nursing post-Covid has a bright future. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Covid helped people see how vital travel nurses are in general — outside of major health crises.
  2. Travel nurses fill an integral role in the healthcare system.
  3. More resources are now available to nurses to help with burnout and emotional health.

To find your next travel nurse assignment, let Trusted Nurse Staffing help. Use the Pronto Job Search to find available travel nurse assignments.


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5 Factors Affecting the Future of Travel Nursing After Covid


#1: An Aging U.S. Population

Americans are living longer for a variety of reasons:

  • Better public health
  • Greater medical advances
  • Better lifestyle choices
  • Treatable conditions that were terminal in the past

With more residents in the U.S. over 65 than at any time in history and more people reaching 100 than ever, the need for medical care for our aging population is growing and will likely continue to grow. 

Nurses will play a critical role in caring for this growing elderly population.


#2: High Number of Retiring Nurses

The American Nurses Association reported that the median age of RNs in 2020 was 52 years with more than one-fifth planning to retire in the next five years. The ANA also reported that 500,000 nurses were expected to retire by 2022. 

With that many leaving the workforce and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 194,500 RN openings between 2020 and 2030, travel nurses will continue to be in demand.


#3: Nurse Burnout

What causes burnout?

  • Unmanaged workplace stress
  • Long work hours
  • Loss of sleep
  • Lack of support
  • Emotional burden from compassionately caring for patients
  • Changes in shift schedules
  • Being on your feet for many hours at a time
  • More and longer shifts due to the nurse shortage

Nurse burnout is a serious issue that tends to compound itself because of a vicious cycle — decreased staffing leads to lower quality patient care, which prompts nurses to leave the profession, which further increases the nurse shortage and leads to lower patient care, and on the cycle goes.

Because of the increased cases of burnout among nurses, many facilities and staffing agencies are stepping up their game with resources, support systems, and counseling options in place to help nurses when they begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed out.

Trusted Nurse Staffing values our nurses and is committed to supporting them each step of the way — before, during, and after each assignment. Let us prove it to you. Search for jobs on Pronto today.


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#4: Faculty Shortages

As the need for nurses grows, the need to educate them also grows. Unfortunately, the faculty available at nursing schools aren’t keeping up with the growing need. As is the case with nurses, many nursing educators are retiring, and no one is stepping up to fill the gap. 

According to an AACN nursing report, nursing schools turned away 91,938 applicants from nursing programs in 2021 because of insufficient:

  • Faculty
  • Clinical sites
  • Classroom space
  • Budget constraints

Why are nursing schools facing faculty shortages?

  • Nursing faculty members are reaching retirement age.
  • Nurse educators are finding better-paying positions in clinical and private-sector settings.
  • Master’s and doctoral programs aren’t graduating enough nurse educators to meet the need.

Without the faculty to lead our schools’ nursing programs, an adequate number of nurses will not be able to be trained to fill the need for nurses in the medical industry.


#5: The Legal Landscape

With additional millions of Americans now having access to health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, more people are visiting doctors’ offices and hospitals. Nurses are needed to serve the growing number of patients seeking care.

Additionally, proposed laws in states like California are in the works to require more strict patient-nurse ratios, meaning more nurses would be required for each shift.


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What Is the Post-Covid Earning Potential for Travel Nurses?

Though travel nurses aren’t likely to see the same earning potential they did during the pandemic, they historically earn more than staff nurses — and that trend is likely to continue because of the demand for nurses across the nation.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered staff nurses earn an average of $39.78 per hour or $1,591 per week, while travel nurses make an average of $3,204. 

Of course, every state is different. For example, travel nurses in Hawaii make 151% more than staff nurses, and travel nurses in South Dakota make a whopping 287% more than their non-traveling counterparts. 

It’s fair to say that the earning potential for travel nurses is still promising. 

Look for high-paying travel nurse jobs on Pronto and let Trusted Nurse Staffing help you find your ideal job in your chosen location.


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3 Tips for Preparing for the Future of Travel Nursing After Covid

Travel nursing promises adventure, professional development, and fulfillment. The best way to find the job you’re looking for is to be prepared. Follow these tips, so you’re ready when travel nursing assignment offers come your way.


#1: Do Your Research

Becoming a travel nurse requires more than simply clicking on a travel nurse agency site and filling out an application. Lots of details need to be taken care of to make the process smooth. Diligently and thoroughly doing your research will set you up to succeed in finding the job you’re hoping for.

Be sure to research the following:

  • License requirements
  • Nursing facilities
  • Travel nurse locations
  • States in the Nurse Licensure Compact
  • Travel nurse agencies and benefits and bonuses offered
  • The experiences of veteran travel nurses


#2: Be Flexible

Once you’ve done the research and know what you’re looking for and what to expect, remember to be flexible. Finding exactly what you’re looking for may take time. 

As with many professions, veteran travel nurses may receive preference when choosing their assignment. New travel nurses may have more limited job assignment options, but once they have some experience under their belt, more options will likely present themselves.

Additionally, travel nurses may find success when they are willing to be flexible with:

  • Location
  • Setting
  • Facility

Being flexible isn’t the same as settling. Know what your must-haves are and where you’re willing to compromise — and stick to it.


#3: Work With an Experienced Staffing Agency

Travel nurse staffing agencies are positioned with the tools and resources to help travel nurses find their preferred jobs in their desired locations.

Rather than going through all the hoops on your own, rely on an experienced travel nurse agency to make the process smooth and seamless.

Do your research and find an agency that provides the following:

  • Excellent benefits
  • Sign-on bonuses
  • Recruiters committed to listening to your needs and desires
  • Recruiters who will support you each step of the way
  • Stipends for housing, travel, and meals
  • Competitive pay
  • Flexible contracts
  • And more


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Trusted Nurse Staffing: Supporting Travel Nurses After Covid — And Beyond

When searching for a travel nurse agency, you don’t need to look any further than Trusted Nurse Staffing.

We’ve got the experience, resources, and commitment to help you find the job you’re looking for. We’ll help you get the salary you desire in a location where you can see new sites and experience one adventure after another.

Our experienced representatives are on your side and will listen to your goals and availability to find just what you’re looking for. 

Our recruiters are also available during your assignment to answer questions or handle any concerns you may have. And when your assignment is over, we’ll help you find your next assignment or help you negotiate and extend your current contract.

When it comes to benefits, we offer our travel nurses the full package, including:

  • High pay
  • 6, 8, and 13-week contracts
  • Housing, meal, and travel stipends
  • Wellness benefits
  • Loyalty program
  • Referral bonuses
  • Health benefits
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Sign-on and completion bonuses
  • And much more

With jobs in all 50 states, Trusted Nurse Staffing is sure to help you find an assignment you’ll love. Search available jobs on Pronto and start the process today to get started on your next travel nurse journey.