If you’re a nurse, the likelihood you have heard about a nursing strike from a friend, colleague, or in the news is very high. With the mass consolidation of the healthcare industry and a nursing shortage with no end in sight, strikes will continue to happen in the United States Healthcare System.
If you are wondering why these strikes happen, they are often the result of an ongoing dispute between healthcare systems and hospital labor/labor unions. Some strikes can last quite long. A recent strike at Allina Health System in Minnesota lasted 41 days, one of the longest strikes in history. Over that period Huffmaster, a strike relief staffing company put 1024 replacement nurses on site at Allina, including backfilling positions for nurses who needed to leave after the initial two-week commitment. This is a perfect example of the unpredictable nature of strike nursing.
If you are considering becoming a strike nurse get ready for a wild ride, keep in mind strike nurses are typically the highest compensated nurses in the industry. We say it’s a wild ride because strikes are typically a mess, think about it, the health system and the labor union are locked in a dispute and the health system has the responsibility to keep its doors open and provide the excellent patient care the community expects from it. The health system typically will reach out to one of the strike companies we have listed below to help support them throughout the labor dispute. It is crucial for the health system, during its negotiations to have confidence in its partner.
When you’re ready to get into strike nursing here are a couple of things to consider.
Once you are locked in for the strike you wait for the call, then when the call comes, it’s go time. Companies will bring you in the night before or the day of the strike depending on arrangements that are not made by you. Typically your at the mercy of the company, as they are paying all of the expenses for you, so don’t expect to be on “your” airline or the hotel of your choice. It’s all business. You may even fly out to the strike, only to learn the strike gets settled and you don’t even have to work. We will go into guarantees later in the blog with regard to your pay. If the strike does go, you’ll be shipped back to home right after the end of the strike, sometimes right after your shift.
You know all those health documents you have been putting off organizing and keeping in order? You’re going to need to get all those in one place and get them organized so when your strike company asks, you can get everything over to them quickly. US Nursing has a really clear and concise requirements list of what you need to be prepared with so once you make that decision, you have all of these documents in order and you will be ready to go for most of the strike nursing companies we listed above.
First off, if the strike happens (they very often get canceled) be ready to hit the ground running as you will receive an incredibly limited orientation on the unit. You’ll get some orientation from your strike company but definitely not a ton of orientation, find someone who has done it before and buddy up with them, strength in numbers. Go into it with the right mindset and be ready to learn, it will make you a stronger nurse in the long run.
Strike pay is more often than not, the highest nursing pay out there. Your expenses are all paid and you are offered a premium rate with guaranteed pay even if the strike doesn’t happen. Remember that the chance you will work strikes all year round is slim to none so while the premium rate is high, you can’t make that same money all year round.
We mention guaranteed pay above and want to unpack that a bit for you. Because of the need for staff, if the strike happens, the health system and the strike staffing company will pay you a guaranteed amount of days as they can’t afford to not have you there. Yes, if the strike gets canceled, they will pay you for a few days when you didn’t even work.
Strike nursing is a very polarizing issue. If you decide to take a strike nursing contract, you will be compensated very handsomely, but you might be considered disloyal to some of your striking peers. Before taking a strike contract, you should research a few things about the facility before signing on the dotted line, such as the reason for the strike, the nurse to patient ratio you’re agreeing to work with, and the history of the facility where you’re considering taking a strike position.
Make sure you’re covered in the event of a medical error. With 2-week contracts there is no time for a month-long orientation so if you’re looking to get involved in strike nursing, you’ll have to know the facility inside and out and be on top of your game from day 1. Strike nurses can work up to 50-60 hours per week. The total amount will depend on the acuity of the patients, but strike nurses will be working and sleeping for the majority of the contract. Make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into and that you’re taking care of yourself because you’ll have plenty of work to do while the facility is short staffed. Make sure to monitor your stress levels, mental fortitude, and physical well-being as strike nurses see the harshest realities of the growing nursing shortage.
In general, strike nursing is a great way for nurses to make money in a short period of time and improve their skills as a dynamic nurse who can go anywhere, conquer anything, and deliver excellent patient care.
Wanderly currently works with a couple of these strike companies and or their sister companies. Fastaff, one of our clients, is the rapid response arm of USNursing and one of the first strikes companies out there. They don’t list their strike opportunities with Wanderly currently but check back for updates. We also partner with TotalMed, another staffing company who has their RapidStaff brand that represents health systems during labor disputes.
If you have any questions and or comments don’t hesitate to visit Wanderly on our social media and or comment below!
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