Demand for Travel Nurses is on the Rise

A unique set of circumstances have converged to create a nursing shortage throughout the country. The need for health care is increasing, especially as Baby Boomers, the largest generation, reaches retirement age and faces chronic health problems.

Posted by Chrissy Kime on August 09, 2019

Fortunately, schools, hospitals and even state legislatures have at least recognized the problem and are making concerted efforts to prepare more nurses to enter the workforce. For those with a nursing degree or who have been able to enter a nursing program, now is the time to take advantage of opportunities that the shortage has created.

Nursing is a growth industry that is expected to increase by 15% in the next ten years. Travel nurses will play a big role in meeting this demand and providing support in areas of the country that are facing the biggest shortages. If you have ever thought about working as a travel nurse, now may be the most lucrative time to explore this option and do some travelling.

States with the Biggest Need for Travel Nurses

While the nursing shortage is a national problem, some states are being hit harder than others. If current trends continue without any major changes, these are some of the highest projected shortfalls:

California: 44,500 Full-time equivalent employees

Texas: 15,900

New Jersey: 11,400

South Carolina: 10,400

Alaska: 5,400

Georgia: 2,200

South Dakota: 1,900

For many of these states, the only way to quickly fill positions with qualified nurses will be to hire contract travel nurses.

Why Hospitals Hire Travel Nurses

You may be wondering why hospitals would hire temporary travel nurses rather than investing in full-time nurses. It all comes down to being able to quickly recruit talented and experienced nurses, fill positions and cut costs. Hospitals can work with staffing agencies to find qualified nurses, which saves on administrative costs and significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to fill a position. Instead of spending months interviewing nurses and negotiating contracts, hospitals can rely on staffing agencies to do a lot of the leg work.

Travel nurses also provide the most efficient way to fill in temporary gaps. Whether hospitals are dealing with an ongoing shortage or need to add support staff to cover for leave of absences or provide help during unusually busy periods, travel nurses are the best solution. While travel nurses typically earn more, it tends to be cheaper to hire a travel nurse than pay overtime costs for permanent employees. Travel nurses can also help ease the workload and prevent full-time employees from experiencing job fatigue and burn-out.

Best Travel Nursing Specialities for 2019

If you want to have access to the best opportunities and highest pay, there are certain nursing specialities that are in high demand. Learn more about positions that offer the highest demand and competitive compensation packages.

Emergency Room

Working in the emergency room is a fast-paced job that requires quick thinking in order to handle life threatening situations. Those who thrive in this environment will be in increasingly high demand during 2019 and beyond.

Medical Surgical/Telemetry

If you like variety and interacting with patients and their families, then this specialty may be right for you. Today’s medical surgical nurses are expected to be well versed in telemetry so that they can monitor patients who have just undergone surgery or been released from intensive care. This role is essential to catching potential complications before they become more serious medical emergencies.

OR Nurse

Operating room nurses are among the highest paid and most in demand. An OR nurse must be prepared to take on a lot of responsibility and be diligent about maintaining a clean operating room that prevents infection and contamination. During operations, patients are rendered unconscious and it is up to the OR nurse to make ensure the patient’s safety while they are incapacitated.

Women's Health

There is a growing need for nurses to care for mothers and their babies throughout the entire pregnancy and after birth. Neonatal intensive care units are under staffed and mother/baby postpartum nurses are needed to help new mothers navigate what can be a difficult time. Labor and delivery nurses, who are responsible for both the mother and child, are also needed to help through the labor process. These positions need to be filled in order to provide proper are for new mothers and their babies.

Long Term Acute Care Nurse (LTAC)

This specialty will continue to require more nurses as the aging population grows and more people need long-term care to help them complete daily tasks and stay on top of medical needs that can often be complex. If you want to prepare yourself for the future, specializing in LTAC could provide you with more job security than other options.

ICU Nurse

ICU nurses are responsible for caring for some of the most vulnerable patients who have experienced major trauma or illness. For this position, you will have to demonstrate excellent clinical skills and earn specific certifications. This extra training and experience will allow you access to competitive positions that pay well.

Continuing your professional development and specializing in a certain type of nursing can help you stand out and land job opportunities at some of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Travel Nurse

In general, nursing can be a demanding and high stress career. You have to work long hours and quickly make important decisions about patient care. In addition, the nursing shortage, many nurses have to deal with a large patient load that places a greater demand on their time and energy. However, travel nursing may provide some much needed relief and allow you to get the most out of your free time.

Advantages of Being a Travel Nurse

  • Travel the country while working and earning money. The average contract lasts about 12 weeks, which gives your plenty of time to explore your new city and do some sightseeing. Instead of having to save up for a vacation and take time off work, you can immerse yourself in a new place and still be putting money away.
  • Build your resume with new work experiences. Large research hospitals and smaller medical facilities all need travel nurses to fill in staffing gaps. That means plenty of opportunities to work in specialty areas and expand your skill set so that you are more attractive to future employers.
  • Meet new people and network. Not only will you make new friends as you explore your new location and spent time with your colleagues, you can also use this opportunity to cultivate professional relationships and build your network. You never know when a connection may come in handy down the road.
  • Help rural and underserved areas receive better healthcare. Nursing is a rewarding career and can feel even more so as you work to help the most vulnerable populations get essentials treatments.
  • Make more money. On average, travel nurses make around $17,000 more per year than a typical nurse. Travel nursing contracts also often include housing and travel stipends, healthcare, retirement and other bonuses. You can make more money while also reducing your monthly bills so that you get to keep more of what you earn.
  • Enjoy a flexible schedule. If you want to take time off in-between assignments to enjoy a vacation or visit with friends and family, you don’t have to go right into a new contract. You can work as much or as little as you want.

Challenges of Working as a Travel Nurse

Learning new policies and procedures. Every hospital does things a little bit differently and it may take you some time to get used to new policies. For some, this learning curve can be frustrating, but hopefully, you will receive the right support from your management and colleagues in order to be successful.

Feeling lonely. Even if you are excited about your travel nursing adventure, it is natural to feel a little lonely as you get your know your new location. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other travel nurses at the hospital or join meet-up groups to help meet new people with similar interests.

Travelling with a pet or spouse can be tricky. While there are housing options that will allow pets and provide enough space for you and your partner, you may have less options and end up paying additional fees. It is possible to make it work, but just be prepared to spend some additional time finding just the right accommodations.

As with any job, travel nursing comes with its clear benefits and challenges. For most people, the advantages clearly outweigh any disadvantages and provide a unique opportunity to grow as an individual and a professional.

Is Travel Nursing Right for You?

If you are looking for a high demand job where you have the most earning potential, then you may want to take a closer look at travel nursing. This field will continue to need qualified nurses to help hospitals handle staffing shortages. Without a clear solution to the nursing shortage in sight and increasing demands on the healthcare system, it will be decades before the demand for travel nursing begins to slow. Travel nursing provides the perfect opportunity for you to see the country, save money and build your resume.

To get a glimpse of travel nursing housing and accommodations in cities across the country, visit Travel Nurse Housing and start planning your next assignment.


I love our community of travel nurses, and I love writing about my experiences. When Brian at TNH reached out to me about possibly telling my story, it was the perfect timing because I had just used their website for the first time. I hope you enjoy it! You can read more about my travel adventures at --Chrissy