Has the Travel Nursing “Bubble” Burst?
Throughout the pandemic, surges in COVID-19 hospitalizations combined with staffing shortages led many hospitals to turn to travel nurses—and as demand surged, so did the cost of travel nurse contracts. But now, as hospitalizations stabilize, many travel nurses are experiencing abrupt pay cuts or contract cancellations.
According to Parth Bhakta, CEO of Vivian Health, an online health care labor marketplace, the travel nursing industry has doubled in size over the last year. And in 2021, travel nursing revenue tripled to an estimated $11.8 billion, up from $3.9 billion in 2015, according to Staffing Industry Analysts. The average pay for travel nurses has also increased from $1,706 a week in December 2019 to $3,290 in December 2021.
However, as COVID-19 hospitalizations stabilize and states run out of pandemic relief funds, many hospitals are now turning away from travel nurses and focusing on hiring full-time staff. According to data from Aya Healthcare, a staffing agency, demand for travel nurses nationwide has declined by about a third in the month leading up to April 10.