There’s a high demand for healthcare travelers in rural healthcare, and while you may already be aware of some of the benefits of taking a rural assignment, you may not know the travel pay breakdown for rural contracts. Keep reading to find what kind of pay you can expect in rural healthcare and why it’s so advantageous to take these assignments right now.
Why work in rural healthcare?
There are many reasons to take an assignment in rural healthcare from filling the staffing shortage in rural hospitals to gaining more experience as a healthcare traveler. No two days are the same for rural healthcare travelers, and since rural hospitals are typically more generalized, the diversity and variety of tasks you’d be responsible for offer unlimited opportunities to learn and grow as a healthcare professional.
Small communities shouldn’t be underestimated either with offerings of outdoor adventure, new culture and small-town traditions, and the overall reward of being a medical lifeline in these rural and remote communities. Additionally, rural assignments are generally less competitive, and in today’s oversaturated healthcare market you’ll have a greater chance of landing the assignment you want if you focus your efforts on rural areas.
Lack of access to healthcare in rural areas
The nursing shortage is affecting rural areas the most, with 61.47 percent of Primary Care Health Care Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) regarded as rural. As a result, people are experiencing a lack of access to healthcare in rural areas and patient care is struggling in hospitals where staffing levels are low. This issue has only been exacerbated by the pandemic with a 2021 survey of 130 rural hospital leaders finding nearly all respondents were having trouble filling nursing positions.
"When we talk to rural hospital leaders, nine times out of 10, their number one concern is staffing," said Michael Topchik, national leader for the Chartis Center for Rural Health. "It is really tough to get nurses in rural America."
Healthcare travelers are helping to reduce the staffing shortage in rural hospitals which in turn increases patient access to healthcare in rural areas as well as improves the level of quality patient care in these locations. Taking a rural assignment is personally rewarding in many ways, but ultimately by helping meet the demand in these areas, you’re contributing massively to these small communities.
Monetary benefits of rural healthcare jobs
If you weren’t aware, travel nurse rates are returning closer to pre-pandemic levels, which means the lucrative assignments you may have been used to during COVID are few and far between. However, taking an assignment in rural healthcare gives you a leg up in the pay department.
While rural pay rates may not be dramatically higher than urban pay rates, there are monetary incentives and perks that make rural opportunities more attractive in some instances. First, you have the element of supply and demand on your side with the extreme need for healthcare professionals in these areas, which gives you more negotiation power as a traveler. For the same reason, rural jobs may be offering signing bonuses that other jobs don’t have.
However, the biggest potential to make more money in rural assignments comes from the low cost of living in these areas. Even if your pay rate is the same in a rural area as it would be in an urban one, you will be saving so much more from each paycheck living in rural areas as costs for housing, groceries, and more are typically lower than the national average. Without the additional costs of living in a big city, you’ll be able to save more of your pay. If you have a financial goal like paying off debt or making a big purchase like a house, taking a rural assignment gives you the opportunity to boost those savings and stretch your travel nurse budget.
Rural areas with the most demand
For ultimate flexibility, consider getting a multi-state license, or compact license, so you can practice in compact states without having to wait to get a state-specific license. That way you can jump into rural assignments quickly and take advantage of the demand for healthcare workers. To maximize your healthcare travel opportunities even more, check out these rural areas where healthcare workers are in high demand:
- Southern Vermont
- Southern Nebraska
- Eastern Ohio
- Southeast Missouri
- Southeast Maine
- Upper Peninsula of Michigan
- Northeast Maine
- Central New Hampshire
- North Central Tennessee
- West Central Illinois
- Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan
- Southeast Mississippi
- Southwest Iowa
- Capital/Northern New York
- Southern Illinois
- Northwest Nebraska
- Southern Ohio
- West Central-Southwest New Hampshire
- East Kentucky
Rural healthcare pay by state
In those states with the most opportunities for healthcare travelers, here’s what travel nurse salaries you can expect as well as cost of living, with 100 being the national average. Keep in mind, rates may be higher or lower depending on the city, job, and other factors.
|State||Hourly wage||Annual salary||Cost of living|
Find rural travel jobs on Fusion Marketplace
Ready to start finding rural healthcare assignments? With Fusion Marketplace, you can filter through our job board to find travel jobs in rural areas. All you have to do is build your Marketplace profile, narrow your healthcare job search, and use our Marketplace features to find high-paying travel jobs in rural locations! The best part is that Fusion Marketplace’s commitment to transparency on details like pay, location, hours, facility, start date, shift type, agency, and more allows you to easily compare travel jobs in one place.
Once you’ve evaluated all our available assignments, you can start applying to jobs quickly and at your discretion. Sometimes a job is offered by multiple agencies on our platform, so you can easily compare your options and then apply to all or multiple of them at a time with our multi-apply feature. Taking control of your healthcare travel career has never been easier!
Taking an assignment in rural healthcare is a great way to accelerate your travel career. Plus, the opportunity to make more money in rural assignments helps you make the most out of your travel career. Browse rural healthcare jobs on Fusion Marketplace today!