The Slow Down of Travel Nursing Covid Contracts

The Slow Down of Travel Nursing Covid Contracts

The ambulance bay had a revolving door, the emergency room was filled with stretchers that lined the hallway, Ford and GM were producing ventilators, and refrigerated trucks lined the parking lot because there wasn’t enough room in the morgue.

The nursing shortage became more and more noticeable. There just weren’t enough nurses to take care of that many people.  Until someone mentioned the words “crisis rates,” then we started seeing a herd of healthcare providers leaving their staff positions to help out where Covid was more prominent.  With assignments up to 10,000 per week the travel industry boomed.  One agency was even doing three-week assignments where you worked 21 days in a row, but most of those crisis assignments have been for 60 hours in a one-week. You can find them all on Wanderly.

Now that we have been social distancing, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated, the Covid rates are coming down, and so are the assignment rates.  Because Covid has not been completely eradicated, there is still a reasonably moderate demand for travel healthcare providers.

On the other hand, travel healthcare providers are having their contracts cut shortly related to what is being called “low census.”  Which to me is like an oxymoron because we still have several cases of covid, but not as nearly as much as we had 6 to 9 months ago.

As a traveling house supervisor, I can understand both sides of this story in that the hospital is canceling contracts to save money, but most nurses are being cut without notice.  No, it’s not right, and it’s not fair, but that is usually how things play out along the travel healthcare road.

The big question is, “What can travel healthcare providers need to do post-crisis?”

  1. You can protect yourself with a cushion in the bank. Ensure that you have at least one month’s worth of bill money set up and enough to get home on.
  2. Make sure that you have guaranteed hours added to your contract.
  3. If you think cancellation is coming your way, talk to your recruiter and remind them that the hospital needs to give two weeks’ notice, per the contract.
  4. If they decide to cut your wages, your pay during the middle of a contract, kindly remind them that this is a mutual agreement between two parties, and you are not agreeing to the pay cut; therefore, they will be in breach of the contract.
  5. Keep in mind that there are two contracts here. One between nurse and agency and one between the agency & the hospital, and you might even have a vendor in there in between the hospital and agency.
  6. Realize that if there is a pay cut, this usually comes from the hospital and not the vendor or agency.
  7. Recognize that you are in control of yourself. You have absolutely no control over the hospital, the vendor, the agency, or even your recruiter.

Having a great recruiter and agency is going to be the game-changer here.  A great recruiter and agency will help you find another great assignment as soon as possible, but we also have to realize that the agency is also in the same boat in that they are taking a pay cut also.  The important thing here is to remember that your recruiter doesn’t have much control over the bill rate, which is what the hospital pays the agency that pays you.

Keep that communication going with your recruiter.  They need to support you during this time through negotiations, education, and contemplation, and you need to understand that they are caught in the middle and support them when trying to find a great assignment.  We are all in this together.

Wonder what your rates should be NOW?  Stay tuned for Part 2 later this month, “Wages After Covid.”

Kay Slane, CEO and Founder of Highway Hypodermics

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