The Iowa Gazette: Nurses Travel to Blunt Shortage

October 17, 2022 | Aya Media Buzz , Newsroom Featured

Aya’s EVP of Recruitment, Chrystal Fugett, shared how we provide healthcare facilities and hospital systems with nurses and other clinical positions. Wesley Fish, Aya RN, discussed his experience of packing up his life to travel to communities that need him the most.

A critical nursing shortage is affecting healthcare facilities, leading to an increase in the use of traveling nurses. Facilities executives are dependent on staffing agencies to fill the shortages but are publicly bemoaning the need to use them. Officials reported more than 250 traveling nurses working across its campus in September, up from about 100 in July 2021 and about 50 in July 2020. The hospital system has over 11,000 healthcare staff but still has about 340 open nursing jobs and 150 open clinical positions.

Patient Impact

A recent survey conducted by the American Nurses Foundation revealed that 55% of nurses in acute care hospitals reported a shortage of registered nurses with the necessary skills and knowledge up to 49% of the time. Additionally, 66% of all nurses and 74% in acute care said they did not have sufficient ancillary staff. Less than half of the respondents considered their work environment healthy or positive, and nearly half said they planned to leave direct patient care within six months. Nurses suggested that employers could increase compensation and the number of nurses and support staff to improve work satisfaction. Despite concerns about staffing ratios, hospital administrators and clinics reported their commitment to providing safe, high-quality care. The hospital scored the lowest on questions related to patient rooms’ quietness and whether patients received help when they wanted it, according to a federal patient satisfaction rating.

‘Altered Health Care Altogether’

UIHC uses seven temporary nurse agencies, with Aya Healthcare being the most used. The demand for traveling nurses is a nationwide phenomenon due to the pandemic, with Aya experiencing a peak of nearly 50,000 placed clinicians. COVID-19 has altered healthcare by exacerbating existing challenges and causing burnout among healthcare workers. Nonetheless, the pandemic has also opened up opportunities for people to become traveling nurses due to remote work options for other family members.

‘My Country Needs Me’

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the financial benefits of being a traveling nurse. Traveling nurses earn two and a half to three times more than staff nurses. Despite working away from their families for months at a time, the money and opportunity to learn new skills in different places is worth it for many traveling nurses.

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