As the healthcare industry stabilizes post-pandemic, pay rate changes are inevitable, presenting both challenges and opportunities for traveling healthcare workers. Understanding the factors driving these changes is important for healthcare travelers to navigate the evolving industry.
According to Marketplace data, most travelers have either experienced or know someone who’s experienced an unexpected pay rate change during their assignment:
- 65% of healthcare travelers have experienced a pay rate change in the last two years
- 82% were informed of the pay rate change prior to its effective date
- 72% were contacted by a recruiter; 14% by an agency; 10% by the facility
Keep reading to learn why contract or pay rate changes are happening for healthcare travelers post-COVID-19 and how to navigate the transition successfully.
- Why are contract changes happening?
- How healthcare travelers can navigate the new normal
- Is it worth it to continue traveling?
Why are pay rate changes happening?
In the healthcare industry, fluctuations in rates are an inevitable reality. Healthcare facilities determine the rates they are willing to pay med travelers, sometimes with guidance from managed service providers with their fingers on the pulse of market trends. Rate changes are dependent on the flow of supply and demand of healthcare workers.
There have been many changes to travelers’ pay rates and contracts lately. These are the details Marketplace travelers self-reported they were informed of before they went into effect:
- Effective date of change: 82%
- Percent change of pay rate: 56%
- Explanation of why the pay rate change occurred: 46%
- Additional changes in hours/shifts: 6%
Consider a situation where healthcare facilities find themselves in urgent need of additional nurses, like during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their course of action was an increase in rates to stay competitive. On the flip side, what happens when the demand decreases, or there’s a surplus of nurses ready to roll up their sleeves and work?
In these cases, the rates will generally experience a downward adjustment. These changes can transpire at any point during your assignment, leading to a new contract you’ll be asked to sign at the changed wage.
Make sure you stay in communication with your recruiter throughout the entire process – they may not be able to change anything about the situation for you, but it wasn’t their decision, either. They may have experienced this multiple times and might be able to walk you through the best course of action for you specifically.
The pay rate can be attributed to or impacted by many factors:
Leveling out after COVID-19
During the pandemic, hospitals faced a unique situation where they had to pay substantial amounts to attract travel nurses and other healthcare workers. With government aid and the pressing need for survival, gross weekly pay soared to unprecedented levels, sometimes surpassing $10,000 per week. It seemed like there were job opportunities available in every location imaginable.
On the other hand, healthcare workers were being confronted with monumental safety concerns. Vaccinations were not yet available, and personal protective equipment (PPE) was alarmingly scarce. Regardless of age, front-line workers were falling ill, and the fear of the unknown loomed large.
Now that COVID-19 numbers are down, pay rates have been changing constantly for healthcare travelers.
Supply surpassed demand
Hospitals are no longer dealing with the overwhelming patient numbers seen during the pandemic so the demand for travel nurses has decreased.
Some hospital systems have recognized this shift in market dynamics, realizing that they currently hold the upper hand. The supply of nurses in the travel sector outweighs the demand, which is typical during the spring. However, it feels more noticeable this year since rates have been exceptionally high for an extended period.
While the pandemic initially brought about higher pay rates for travel nurses due to the urgent need for their expertise, the situation has now shifted.
How healthcare travelers can navigate the new normal
Pay rates for healthcare travelers have undergone significant changes, leading to a new normal in the industry. Previously, there was a surge in travel nursing pay packages, with gross rates reaching over $10,000 per week in some cases. However, as the pandemic subsided, pay rates started fluctuating, and the average weekly pay for travel nurses has now settled closer to $3,000 per week, according to Fortune.com. This shift reflects the evolving demand and supply dynamics in the healthcare sector.
To navigate this new normal, healthcare travelers need to consider factors that influence pay rates, ultimately finding opportunities that align with their expectations and goals.
Consider applying for a compact
Shifts in healthcare policies and regulations are opening new avenues for travelers. States are now realizing the importance of the compacts in the aftermath of the pandemic. A compact offers increased mobility and flexibility, empowering travel nurses and other healthcare workers to choose from a wider range of job opportunities. With more options, you have the potential to secure more competitive salaries and experience diverse healthcare environments.
- Nursing Compact States to Make Travel Nursing Easier
- PT Compact States in 2023 for More Travel PT Options
- What the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact Means for OTs
Apply for jobs in high demand locations
Burnout and the continued demand in high-census areas are significant factors to consider. As a healthcare worker, you know firsthand the toll the pandemic has taken on healthcare workers. The ongoing need for healthcare staff in these high-demand regions only amplifies the issue.
However, there is a silver lining — travelers who choose to work in these areas often enjoy higher pay as a result. It's a way to acknowledge your crucial role in meeting these communities' healthcare demands.
Stand out by earning specialized certifications
Specialized skills and certifications hold a lot of value in the healthcare industry. As the need for specialized care continues to grow, healthcare workers with advanced certifications and expertise in specific areas, such as critical care or emergency medicine, are in high demand.
Healthcare facilities recognize the value these skills bring to patient care, resulting in higher rates for those who possess them. You can position yourself for better financial rewards and professional growth by honing your expertise.
Use a staffing platform to find the best pay rates
One of the best ways to navigate ever-changing pay rates is by using Marketplace. With this tool, you can easily search for jobs by viewing important details such as pay rates, agency and recruiter reviews, and length of assignment. We understand that finding the best pay rates and working with your preferred agency is crucial for your success as a healthcare traveler.
Is it worth it to continue traveling?
Should healthcare travelers still hit the road, even with the recent pay rate changes and shifts since COVID-19? The answer is absolutely.
60% of healthcare travelers plan on continuing in the travel nursing industry in the next six months.
By venturing into different states, you still have the potential to earn higher pay compared to your home state. It's an opportunity to boost your income while doing what you love. But it's not just about the money.
Traveling allows you to explore and see the beautiful sights of the United States. From bustling cities like New York City to rural towns, there's a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. So why not continue traveling while doing what you love?
The bottom line: if you love traveling, don't let these changes in the overall market discourage you. Embrace the opportunities to earn, explore, and grow. Take the leap to travel or continue doing so, broaden your horizons, and make the most out of your journey as a healthcare traveler with Marketplace.