Health Care Reforms Driving Demand for OR and ER Travel Nurses


By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the number of Americans with health insurance coverage has drastically increased, and many are now taking advantage of their coverage. Subsequently, this rise in demand is increasing hospitals’ needs for nurses.

“We are seeing insurance covering more surgeries and the number of elective surgeries is on the rise,” remarked Jenna Scaduto, recruitment manager for American Mobile Healthcare. Some of the newly insured appear to be getting care in the emergency room, as well. That all adds up to good news for both ER travel nurses and OR travel nurses.

“Hospitals are looking for experienced ER and OR nurses to meet this new demand, and they are coming to us because they know we have qualified nurses who are already screened and have references. Hiring one of our travel nurses saves the hospital from having to train a new nurse and meets their staffing needs more quickly.”

Currently, OR travel nurses and ER travel nurses are among the top five most requested specialties, according to American Mobile. Typically nurses need 12 months of staff nursing experience before they can start traveling, but some OR travel nurse positions require 18 or even 24 months of prior experience.

“For travel nurses, it is an exciting time in our industry. We’ve had the highest number of orders for travel nurses that we’ve had in years,” Scaduto said. “There are more jobs all over the country and more facilities requesting jobs, so the selection is there.”

In addition to having a growing choice of assignments, travel nurses can find other advantages. “One of the great things about being a traveler as opposed to a staff nurse is that you have flexibility to work around holidays and vacation needs. And you stay outside hospital politics.“

“Additionally, we are seeing pay increases for OR travel nurses and some for ER, as well,” added Nina Velasco, senior recruiter for American Mobile. “With all of the EMR conversions happening, there is also a market for shorter term contracts and those have a higher pay rate.”

Both Scaduto and Velasco say that nurses who are open to a variety of situations will have no trouble securing consecutive assignments. But Velasco adds that OR travel nurses who can scrub and circulate or who can work with both pediatric and adult patients are even more marketable.

While travel RN assignments are increasing across the country, some areas have more opportunities than others.

“California is our No. 1 busiest place--there is such a shortage there,” said Velasco. “The board of nursing is backed up and can’t crank out the licenses as fast as the applications are coming in. California is also the state where we have the most exclusive contracts with some of the largest providers. For nurses looking to travel continuously, I’d definitely recommend getting a license there--and to apply sooner rather than later.”

“American Mobile works with the best hospitals in the country in many fabulous locations. Working as a travel nurse is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door at a top facility,” added Scaduto. She added that hospitals are already planning ahead for winter assignments, working with the staffing agency to set up placements through the holidays.

“If you start making arrangements now, you have the best chance of setting up a schedule to meet your holiday travel needs,” she added. “There are also often bonuses for nurses who are willing to work Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.”

“Right now is definitely the time for OR and ER nurses to travel--they are a high need specialty. The market is on an uptick,” remarked Velasco.


Related articles and resources:
Search for ER Travel Nurse Jobs
Search for OR Travel Nurse Jobs
ER Nurse Making the Most of New York City Assignment

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