Healthcare staffing agencies say demand for registered nurses can’t be met

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – One of the country’s largest medical staffing agencies says there are currently over 100,000 health care travel jobs available across the United States. Ken Tracy with Triage Staffing says the demand for healthcare workers, especially registered nurses, has spiked nationwide.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, so does the need for nurses in Alabama. Many short-staffed hospitals are filling empty positions with temporary ‘travel nurse’ assignments.

“There are not enough registered nurses to fill the openings at this time, the demand is just too great,” says Triage Staffing President Ken Tracy.

Tracy says the pandemic is causing staffing shortages across the medical field but especially registered nurses.

“We are having a lot of registered nurses today go into retirement or look at alternative fields to go into and because of that the drain of them leaving is not as quick as the input of replacing them,” says Tracy.

Tracy says from reviewing Triage Staffing data, Alabama is the state with the largest increase in demand for registered nurses.

“272% demand from June to today has been put on the state of Alabama. We definitely see it in our job orders. From a job orders standpoint, stat-wise, we have over 700 requirements in Alabama,” says Tracy.

Soliant Health Executive Ron Washburn says they are also seeing an increase in demand to fill travel nurse positions.

“It’s always been a high demand for nurses, but the last year and a half… I would say chaos… extremely high demand,” says Washburn.

Washburn says more nurses are opting for to travel contracts because of the benefits.

“Big paychecks have helped motivate people to take that step. People who were on the edge of thinking about traveling… I think this has pushed a lot of people over that edge,” says Washburn.

Washburn says he questions how long the demand for travel nurses will continue.

“We’re seeing a lot of nurses that are incredibly burned out and in some cases, they’ve made a lot of money in a short amount of time and we have had nurses say ‘I don’t want to extend here, in fact, I don’t even want to take another assignment. I just want to take a break so I’m going to go away for three months’ and revisit it at that point,” says Washburn.

“I think some of the burnout will contribute to demand continuing even as we see covid numbers start to come down,” says Washburn.

Staffing agencies say the current reality is that the demand for nurses is inflating compensation, both for hospitals to retain staff nurses and for agencies to bring in travel nurses.

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