April is another popular month for healthcare travelers to start a new assignment. If you took a new healthcare assignment in January, chances are that you’re now on the hunt for a new one or considering an extension.
Dealing with the global pandemic for more than a year has rocked the healthcare travel market with demand pay rates changing almost weekly. Here are job trends we’re seeing in the travel nursing and travel allied sectors as we enter the second quarter of 2021. Learn up-to-date insights and tips to navigating this ever-changing job market.
Hospitals Dropping Pay Rates to Pre-COVID Levels
COVID-19 cases have decreased as more people are vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines, which means hospitalizations are down. For example Parkland Hospital, which was once the largest virus treatment centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has now closed all six of its COVID-19 wards after seeing a dramatic drop in active cases from an average of 200 during the peak to 20 today. That’s good news!
But in turn, hospitals are no longer needing healthcare travelers at the levels they did during the peak of the pandemic. Hospitals have decreased the number of travelers they need, dropping the number of job openings nationwide to approximately 8,000. The average bill rates for the jobs hospitals do have posted also decreasing back down closer to rates before the pandemic began.
A trend being discussed in several Travel Nursing Facebook Groups is the possibility of hospitals dropping pay rates of an active travel assignment before it ends, and cutting hours worked or canceling an assignment all together because lower census from less COVID patients.
More Competition = Be More Flexible
More healthcare professionals left their permanent positions to travel last year due to the pandemic’s high demand and high crisis pay packages. Now that the demand for nursing and allied health jobs is stabilizing, there’s still a higher number of travelers looking for new assignments resulting in more competition for desired jobs. It’s typical for the hospital to receive more than 20 submittals to a single job within the first hour of posting their need.
To handle higher competition for jobs, travelers should be try to more flexible for what they’re looking for. Whether it’s being more open to more locations and compromising special scheduling or shift requests, the more flexible a traveler can be, the more likely you can find a new assignment faster.
Does your agency know which hospitals are actually moving?
As patient census continues to drop in select areas, some hospitals are scaling back on their need for travelers all together. As the facilities are trying to navigate the changing needs and demand, a travel assignment they posted last week may not be needed any more the following week.
Tip: Make sure you’re working with a trusted, experienced healthcare staffing company that has regular contact with their hospital clients and can tell you if a position you submit for is actively interviewing and booking travelers or not. Beware of stagnant job boards or advertisements promoting fake jobs that are no longer open.
What’s the possibility of another job peak and crisis needs?
As states are scaling back restrictions and more people are traveling and going back to life as “normal,” the U.S. reported a 12 percent increase of average new daily cases as of Sunday, March 28.
“What we’re likely seeing is because of things like spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods that you’ve seen. Now, several states have done that,” Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
With more people getting vaccinating, including healthcare professionals and elderly or at-risk people, it’s not likely that hospitalizations will peak as they did last year and in January 2021. But only time will tell.
Check back regularly for updated travel nursing and allied health job market news!
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