Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation | TheUnion.com
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Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

Submitted by Kimberly Parker

A little known fact is how hospitals provide coverage if there is a shortage of nurses. Healthcare providers that cannot recruit and hire the number and type of nurses they need regularly turn to travel nurses to fill clinical needs. There is a growing demand for experienced and specialty nurses in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Hospitals historically have used travel nurses to fill short-term staffing shortages. Filling a position between full-time hires, covering for a nurse on sick leave or a leave of absence are common reasons to bring in outside assistance. In addition, travel nurses provide valuable support during busy times such as flu or tourist season.

Travel nurses are generally employed by staffing agencies. Assignments usually last 13 weeks, but may be shorter or extended at the request of the employer and upon the agreement of the agency and the nurse. Housing or a housing stipend is often provided, along with travel costs. Some travel nurses take jobs in a particular region while others travel nationwide to fill vacancies.

Nurses often specialize in a particular area of clinical work. When a hospital loses nursing coverage in a department, it is not always possible for another nurse to move into that position if they don’t have the expertise needed for that clinical work or if there are not enough staff for the move. Examples include dialysis, psychiatric, or pediatric nursing.

Being a travel nurse comes with the same type of responsibilities as a non-travel nursing job. Travel nurses are healthcare professionals who assist patients and have a wide array of duties. Patient care is the highest priority.

So why do people choose this direction in nursing? It offers an opportunity to travel to different areas and because these jobs are temporary and generally short, some travel nurses have a home base and work for a period of time and then go home for a while. Depending on how much work a person chooses to take on, a nurse can earn a comfortable paycheck. There are also opportunities for advancement and a chance to build a strong resume. Many like it because they don’t get pulled into tense or stressful work environments. These nurses often feel they have the best of both worlds — steady employment, without being tied down to a particular employer or location.

Travel nurses must attend a nursing school and get their degree. Once the nursing degree has been obtained, the next step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RNexam has one purpose which is to determine if it’s safe to begin practice as an entry-level nurse. From there, a travel nurse will need at least one year experience working in a hospital setting in the nursing specialty he/she wishes to practice. Some healthcare facilities require more patient care experience. By using travel nurses, coverage is managed in the hospital setting and it provides staff time to do a thoughtful screening and hiring for open positions at the facility.


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