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There is a nationwide call for travel nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the demand comes offers of substantial financial compensation for those willing to care for patients under conditions of extreme risk. Across the US—especially in states such as California, New York, and Washington—crisis pay for travel nurses is at record highs. The increased pay is tied to the rising hazard of working during the pandemic, but travel nurses are at least receiving better compensation for the risks they take.

Nationwide, travel nurse pay has risen by 76%, and has gone up by as much as 90% in Washington state, the original hotspot of COVID-19. Further, the healthcare industry news site HIT Consultant states that “Hospitals are paying Crisis/Pandemic rates up to $4,400 weekly to quickly staff up for the caring of COVID-19 patients.”

Demand for registered travel nurses, already high before the pandemic struck, is also spiking. Massachusetts, in which demand has quadrupled, appears to be in the greatest need so far, and demand has doubled in California and New York. The latter two states also display the sharpest rise in pay, although Washington is still the location offering the highest salaries. On average, according to HIT Consultant, pay for emergency department nurses has almost quadrupled with the spread of the pandemic.

Among the travel nurse positions hospitals are trying to fill, ICU RNs, ED RNs, and Respiratory Therapists are particularly coveted. NuWest Group, a staffing company placing travel nurses in New York, says that they are “Urgently staffing ICU and Respiratory therapist travel nurses for NYC Health and Hospitals.”

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CNBC notes that “As demand spikes, staffing agencies are offering unprecedented incentives for nurses willing to enter hot zones” and cites staffing agency NuWest as offering travel nurses as much as $10,000 in crisis pay, with relocation bonuses and tax-free housing and food.

For an extensive assessment of the market for travel nurses right now, see this story on HIT Consultant.

Koren Thomas
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