Solutions For Shortages Of Nurses In The Middle Of A Pandemic

Updated on May 8, 2021

In the midst of a pandemic, many hospitals are experiencing a shortage of nurses and medical staff. What is particularly interesting about this set of data is that some cities have extra nurses that could be working full time but there simply aren’t enough hours or shifts to go around! How can these underutilized nurses get the work they need and hospitals get the nurses they need? Solutions for shortages of nurses in the pandemic are as follows.

Borrow Nurses Within the State and Healthcare System

A healthcare system is operated by a particular group. For example the Affinity Healthcare System’s many clinics and hospitals have the title “Affinity” attached to them. In these separate systems, nurses can be pulled from one location and relocated to where they are most needed. Usually there will be job postings for these temporary relocations for nurses looking for more hours and more pay.

If you are a nurse working for a particular healthcare system, watch for such work emails announcing these lateral movements into cities in your state where more nurses are needed. You can also contact your HR staff to ask about these positions. They are usually offered on a first come, first served basis, but you do have to have the right credentials for the wards that need your services.

Quitting and Relocating Entirely

Despite the desperate need for nurses in many major cities, quitting your job at this time is probably not recommended. Unless the location, shifts, hours and pay all fall in line with exactly what you want, Quitting one job and moving out of state to take another job is never a good idea. It’s very risky, and it may work in your favor right now, but that’s not to say it will be effective later on when nurses are not in demand where you are headed.

Travel Nurse Agencies

Nurses that are neither married nor encumbered by children can do this kind of work. It is an excellent work opportunity because travel nursing agencies will hire you at a much higher rate of pay than you could make anywhere else. The shifts and locations options are excellent too. You can choose to work anywhere, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

As for where you will work, there are vast numbers of cities and states where you can request a post. Alaska, Hawaii, California, New York, etc., are all on the list right now. Choose your destination and your facility, choose your rate of pay, and sign up.

Not only is the nursing shortage driving the travel nurse business skyward right now, but it is also creating sign-on bonuses that are impossible to refuse. The sign-on bonuses require nurses to work at least three months to a year in a single location. Then the bonuses are paid out in lump sums on the paychecks.

In addition to the great pay and perks of being a travel nurse, a lot of travel agencies provide nurses with relocation stipends and lodging in their chosen city. The apartments are rather basic and sometimes more than one nurse has to share the living space, but considering what you can make working this way bunking with someone you don’t know is often worth it.

The Flip Side of the Coin: Nursing Directors Looking for Nurses

If you are actually a nursing director looking for nurses for your hospital or clinic, check with all of the travel nurse agencies. They can give you price quotes for what they charge to find you temp nurses, their individual rules and regulations for hiring travel nurses outside the travel nurse contracts, and how long you can contract a nurse to work in your facility.

This is an excellent way to get all the nurses your facility needs. There is often no rule against hiring a travel nurse until you can hire a permanent nurse to fill the temp’s shoes either. It allows you to continue searching for qualified candidates to fill open positions while the temps work for you. Temp nurses accept the fact that their positions are short-term fill-in positions, and are never surprised or caught off guard that their positions are terminated when a permanent staff is hired to do the jobs they were doing.

International Travel Nurse Opportunities

There are a couple of travel agencies for nurses that offer international opportunities. However, these are really limited, and during the pandemic they have been harder and harder to come by or fill. Many international travel bans and restrictions have made it more difficult for nurses to accept international travel nurse positions. However, if you were already in another country outside the U.S. when the pandemic started, you might be allowed to travel to countries that banned U.S. travelers from entering their countries.

Nurses wanting to be international travel nurses should ask their nursing temp/travel agencies about these opportunities and where they can go. The nursing schedulers in these particular agencies will check restrictions based upon your current location and nursing experience. Then the nursing scheduler will notify you of what international postings are available to you.

Nurses From Other Countries Not Available in the U.S.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. does not allow nurses from outside the U.S. to enter into the U.S. right now. The pandemic in this country has reached an all-time high, and anyone entering the country would be at greater risk for contracting the disease versus bringing the disease into the country with them. Very few countries are allowing their citizens to travel to the U.S. for work purposes, so traveling nurses and borrowed nurse programs have to occur within the boundaries of the U.S. as a whole.

There have been multiple creative solutions for the nursing shortage, but the travel nurse associations have been the most effective. Any time nurses are no longer needed in one location, they can quickly move to another location. This constant rotation of nurses in and out where they are needed most has been the most effective solution. If you are a nurse, join the ranks of traveling nurses. If you are a nursing director, tap this resource to get the nurses you need.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.