Traditionally, travel nursing is known for helping rural hospitals thrive.
Example: A less than 50-bed hospital in a remote town, hours from any large urban setting is unable to attract and retain long-term staff; so the facility relies heavily on healthcare travelers to bring skilled, quality care to the community. Travel nurses and allied professionals are typically offered better pay, benefits and flexibility at more rural facilities than they would get at home.
But looking at recent trends in today’s travel healthcare market, rural facilities are being faced with more competition from metropolitan areas.
A recent study by Navigant Healthcare reported 21 percent of rural hospitals nationwide are at high risk of closing, which includes 34 states that have five or more facilities at a great risk. Top states include Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Maine, Alaska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, Minnesota and Iowa.
Alabama tops the list with the highest percentage of rural facilities most at risk, totaling 50 percent in the state. Chief policy officer at the Alabama Hospital Association Danne Howard recently shared with Modern Healthcare that this is “probably the most fragile of situations I have seen in my 23 years at the association.”
Georgia follows close behind with 41 percent of the state’s rural facilities facing high risk of closure. Last week, the Augusta Free Press reported that Georgia is facing one of the worst nursing shortages in the country. According to the article, some resources are forecasting that by 2030, Georgia will be short up to 50,000 nurses needed to provide proper patient care.
The healthcare staffing openings on the StaffDNA Job Board align with these reports, and it’s not only rural areas in need of travel healthcare professionals.
Georgia’s two most populated cities, Atlanta and Augusta, have the state’s most openings for travel nurses and allied professionals on the StaffDNA Job Board. Depending on the specialty, travel RN positions in Georgia’s metro areas are offering similar to or even higher pay rates than the rural facilities.
More than ever before, rural hospitals are competing with larger cities to attract healthcare professionals. This trend can be seen across the country.
But being in a rural area doesn’t mean the patient pool decreases. Healthcare travelers are and will continue to be a driving force to keep rural facilities running and able to provide quality care in their communities.
How are rural hospitals attracting travelers? Community. At rural facilities, travel nurses are treated like family, both in the hospital and out in the community. In a small-town setting, hiring managers look for travelers who are adaptable, and can understand and appreciate the local culture.
Nurses and allied health professionals have their own reasons for traveling—experience new locations, pay off debt, build resume, avoid hospital politics, etc.—but one focus remains the same: patient care. Whether it’s a small rural facility or Level 1 trauma center in the heart of the city, healthcare travelers are making positive impacts in every community they serve.
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