In the last month, a lot of us working healthcare have had our worlds turned upside down. When the WHO officially announced the COVID-19 virus had become a global pandemic, many hospitals began preparing for the impact that would inevitably hit their cities.
By mid-March a huge portion of the United States had been shut down, most travel had been restricted or rescheduled, and travel nurses everywhere began to grasp how big of an event this would be for anyone working in healthcare.
As hospitals in New York and Seattle became quickly overwhelmed crisis rates began hitting the market. Travel nurses were getting offered more than $4,000 a week to work these high volume areas, and many quickly jumped on board. Others waited it out, unsure how the entire scenario would play out in the coming weeks and months.
Now that we are a few weeks into the largest healthcare emergency our modern nation has known, it may be a little easier to take the time to think about how you as a travel nurse want to approach this time in our careers. Here are a few ways nurses are choosing to navigate these uncharted waters, and some pros and cons to all of the options.
Take Advantage of the Crisis Rates
Like I mentioned before, there are a lot of opportunities to make some serious cash in the upcoming months. First Washington, New York, and California were named as “hot spots” by the CDC because of the huge influx of COVID-19 patients that were overwhelming their hospitals. Now new areas like Louisiana and Georgia are beginning to be more intensely affected. Many hospitals in these areas were not prepared and needed help fast, so they pushed out high pay rates for travel nurses to get people in to work ASAP.
This is a great time for someone who is low risk for actually getting sick and wants to make a good chunk of money quickly. Just make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Nationwide we are facing a shortage of necessary gowns and masks to protect healthcare workers on the frontline, and some of the higher-paying jobs were at facilities that were struggling the most. Another consideration is that many landlords were hesitant to rent to nurses who were coming and going from the COVID wards in hospitals. Make sure you have all of your lodgings lined up as well and be upfront with your landlords when you secure housing in these high need areas.
Take an Assignment Closer to Home
While some nurses are off chasing crisis rates, others are feeling a little more on edge and the comfort of family being nearby is tempting. Despite the fact that social distancing won’t actually permit hanging out with your loved ones, it can be nice to know that if someone you love did get sick or needed help in these hard times you could be there sooner rather than later.
The good news is you can probably find an assignment somewhat near your home no matter where that is. You may not get to be as picky as you would normally be, or your setting may not be ideal, but chances are local hospitals are starting to prepare for the impact that the COVID-19 virus is inevitably going to have on your hometown community. If you want to be home, take the chance when you get it and feel confident that you made the right choice for your family and your well being right now.
Wait for the Dust to Settle
If you are someone that can afford to take time off right now and you aren’t interested in walking into the eye of the storm there is no shame in this route either. The beauty of travel nursing is we get to choose when and where we want to work. A lot of travel nurses with contracts ending may be considering taking a break before their next contract to see what happens in the coming weeks.
Especially if you or someone you live with are high risk or immunocompromised, this may be a great time to take advantage of not being obligated to work. Ultimately we need healthy nurses now and in the future, and as healthcare workers we have to take care of ourselves just as much as we take care of everyone else. I have heard of many pregnant nurses, nurses over 60, or nurses with spouses or children undergoing cancer treatments who are asking for leave from full time jobs because they are terrified of getting someone in their family sick. There is no shame in protecting yourself or the ones you care for at home. Do what is best for you and take some time to see how this plays out if needed.
Support Your Fellow Nurses
Now more than ever, we need to support and encourage one another. No matter what you decide to do or how you approach working as a travel nurse during this pandemic, be sure to cheer on other nurses who are also doing what they feel is best.
Whether we are on the sidelines cheering or offering support or walking into the hospital’s COVID unit every single day, the only way any of us working in healthcare are going to get through this historic event is to be positive and encouraging. Check on your friends, lend a listening ear, or write a little note of appreciation. Small acts of kindness are truly going to go a long way in the coming months, so don’t forget to take the time to lift up a fellow nurse today.
“From our friends at Furnished Finder and Gypsy Nurse.”