Healthcare agencies across North America are facing worsening talent shortages. According to a report released by Mercer, it is projected that there will be major shortages of healthcare workers, in North America by 2026. COVID has played a large part in this tightening of talent supply. Additionally, agencies, particularly in travel nurse agencies, now have to compete with third-party platforms which are receiving huge influxes in funding and have been growing during the pandemic.
This means it’s more important than ever before for agencies to be able to appeal to new healthcare workers as they enter the field and make sure they’re providing the best possible experience for them. We sat down with a recent nursing graduate, Bianca, looking to enter the travel healthcare field in the near future about her motivations, and how she plans to go about looking for work.
Flexibility, variety and continuous support
We were most interested in knowing what most intrigued Bianca about becoming a travel nurse, what her relationship is with healthcare staffing agencies, and how her work may have been affected by the current pandemic.
How long have you been a nurse?
Just a few months, I officially got my license in July. So it will have been three months since I’ve officially been working as a nurse.
What type of nursing do you do at the moment?
Right now I do renal nursing, specifically hemodialysis. I work with patients, mostly outpatients, meaning that they come to the hospital three times a week for like three or four hours each time for their treatment.
How do you feel entering nursing during the pandemic? Do the continued restrictions make you feel a bit uneasy about being a travel nurse?
I’m not really nervous but I think I had a relatively good experience. I still went to clinicals during my last year of nursing school, so I was kind of introduced to the pandemic you’re seeing as it was going on. At least where I was, we’ve always had enough PPE. The occupational health team has always been really great. So I’ve always felt safe, just because there’s always been enough protective equipment and restrictions in place.
What made you consider travel nursing?
I think one of the main reasons I’m considering becoming a travel nurse right now especially is just how expensive the housing market is and how the only way to really improve your salary as a nurse aside from a pay bump every year based on provincial regulations, would be to do travel nursing contracts or contracts through a third party nursing agency. So that was one of the main reasons I looked into travel nursing and also just wanted to see different parts of Canada and decide what kind of where I wanted to settle later on.
A well-known attraction of travel nursing is the ability to move freely with a faster salary increase. This is especially appealing to younger skilled nurses. Having a variety of specialties and positions available is a major attraction for those considering travel nursing. We were curious to know how Bianca finds these travel nursing positions and what research and platforms she’s done so far.
How do you plan on finding these travel nursing jobs? What research have you done, and where?
I’ve just done some low-level Googling, and kind of figured out that there are two main interprovincial, travel nursing agencies in Canada. So I’ve gone on their two sites, one of the sites actually lets you browse jobs that they currently have posted. So I just go on there and see what’s available. With the specialty I’m currently in, they don’t offer many travel nursing opportunities. I’m already kind of planning how to get into OR nursing. That’s one of the more needed fields in terms of travel nursing opportunities. I looked into where those opportunities are. So I’ll see a lot in BC and less on the east coast.
The main way Bianca searches for jobs is through provincial travel nursing agencies with easy job postings and clear application instructions.
Have you looked into staffing agencies?
I had actually been in contact with a recruiter earlier on in my career when I was looking for a job. They started offering a $10,000 incentive for new graduates or retired nurses to go work in more remote rural communities.
Financial incentives offered for more remote areas or specialties was a major incentive for Bianca when looking at travel nursing jobs.
Do you see yourself travel nursing for a long period of time? And how do you plan on finding employment as you go?
I’d have to try it and see how much I like it, how much constant moving to new places, and starting in new places I can do. If I fall in love with a place on my assignments, I might decide to stay there for a few years, and then maybe go back to travel nursing. I could see myself dipping in and out of it for like a number of years, even decades. Especially since I want to retire early anyway.
How do you plan on finding employment on the road? Have you looked into different apps?
My hope would be to match up with a really good recruiter and be really open in my communication so that they would be able to proactively show me jobs that I might be interested in.
What are the advantages of using a staffing agency for you?
They’re more flexible, and sometimes they still offer benefits. When you work at a hospital, even though you’re permanent, if you’re permanent part-time, you’re not eligible for benefits through the hospital. Whereas, with a staffing agency, even though you’re not necessarily permanent, because you do contracts, you would have access to benefits through the third-party staffing agency, not the hospital directly. So that could be one of the benefits along with the increased salary.
After chatting with Bianca it was clear that her perceptions about staffing agencies, and the advantages of working with them, centered around flexibility, visibility, benefits, and continuous support from the recruiter