Weathering the Storm…

I have news, it isn’t good or bad, it just is.

Many of you know I’m currently on a travel nurse contract. It’s about an hour from my house. I work three shifts a week in a little tiny emergency department on night shift. I love it. I can’t say enough good things about the facility, everyone is so kind. I enjoy it so much that I’ve renewed my contract through when baby comes in September! This is all good news.

There has been a huge shift in the travel nursing industry in the past week, unlike anything that’s ever happened before. It began on the West coast and has slowly spread across the country.

Remember about 2 months ago when congress had talked about capping travel nurse salary? I think they realized that wasn’t going to be feasible from their position.

There’s something else you need to understand about hospitals. You may go to a hospital, there’s a few in Iowa and Minnesota like UnityPoint or MercyOne, they are actually a chain of hospitals associated with or owned by much larger nationwide hospital systems. Kaiser is another hospital system that owns a ton of smaller hospitals. The owners of the much larger hospital systems got together and decided travel nurses were making too much money.

The hospital systems all told their travel nurses they were reducing their pay, some by x amount per hour and some by percentages (up to 50%!) and told the nurses if they don’t like their new rate they can leave.

Chaos ensues. So many travel nurses had to either accept a much lower wage, even lower than staff nurses, or they chose to leave their job with almost no notice. Many travelers opted to leave and just like that, hospitals across the nation lost a huge percentage of their staff overnight.

Can you imagine the stress that puts on the remaining hospital staff? Or the nurse managers who have to schedule around this nightmare? This isn’t just happening in “some places,” I personally know many, many nurses who are affected by this massive shake up.

Many of these travel nurses have rented apartments, signed leases, moved their family, even purchased homes with the intention of finishing out their contracts. It’s a very big mess and people really aren’t aware of all that’s going on.

As of now, as I’m typing this, I’ve been reassured my contract and my renewal is safe. However, I’m still on the chopping block. Keep in mind, these nurse managers, even nursing administration at these smaller hospitals don’t have any control over these decisions. It all is coming from the very tip top down.

That being said, our debt snowball, our debt payoff goal has been put on hold. We were due to be debt free by October before I go on maternity leave, a goal we’ve been working feverishly towards for 3 years. We were so close. Our plan is now to weather this “storm,” this unpredictability of my job, pile up cash, and keep on trucking. If I can get through my maternity leave and we still have the cash, I can secure another contract for January 2023, I’ll be glad to throw our savings at the debt snowball and in the scheme of things, there won’t be much time lost.

But I’m still kind of bummed.

So that’s what I know about our debt free update. It isn’t always big milestones, sometimes it’s just boring and buckling down to weather the storm. Thanks for reading!

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5 Comments

  1. Kim from TN
    May 18, 2022 / 11:47 am

    I had no idea there was this discussion about travel nurses and their wages. I fully aware how larger medical organizations own and operate many of the smaller community hospitals in this country. I have lived in the smaller towns and seen this happen to the rural hospitals. I’m glad your stockpiling the cash for now and waiting it out, it makes perfect sense, see how it plays out. I hope you are still feeling better and your baby bump has arrived.

  2. Susan the Farm Quilter
    May 18, 2022 / 12:10 pm

    Why isn’t this in the news? This is the first I’ve heard of this! While I agree that medical costs across the board are too high, I don’t think it is in the best interest of the country for the government to step in and limit wages. It seems that government involvement in most things just makes the problem worse. So glad you have a fall-back plan – thank you, Dave Ramsey!! That will definitely lower your stress level, even though it is disappointing to not get your debt payed off like you had planned.

  3. Hedy
    May 18, 2022 / 12:24 pm

    I worked in a hospital as payroll supervisor and we were part of a huge group. So sorry this is happening to you now. I would think you will be able to land a regular nursing job if the traveling nurse job isn’t available.next year. My DIL was a traveling nurse and loved it before settling down with a regular job in Portland OR. It gave her a chance to see the US before deciding where to live permanently. I hope everything works out well for you and your family.

  4. Elle
    May 18, 2022 / 3:12 pm

    Travel nurses have wreaked havoc on staff satisfaction for decades (speaking as a RN Leader). When RNs are working side by with someone earning 50-100% more per hour it is disheartening. My last travel hire of my career was $105/hr so the RN was getting what $75? (I never asked). At that time my top paid BSN RN was at $42.50. (that was 2018 b4 I retired). Sign-on bonuses wreaked the same havoc, as RNs here quit and went to the other hospital in town for $10k, stayed 2y and then went back. That plan totally backfired on recruiting into town from outside. The next year they put a 100 mile away restriction on that bonus $.

    I am glad for you, that you have a sane head on your shoulders and will bankroll the pay as long as possible and that you didn’t relocate to be a traveler. AND that you are still per diem at a nearby facility so you have work when you want it.

    Take good care and prayers for you that you get to delivery without added stress! Pregnancy is enough right? 😉

  5. May 18, 2022 / 3:46 pm

    I thought Travel nurses would get more money. Costs of traveling and many times over night stay. My daughter did this for a while, now I know why she stays put in one hospital. She never said much to me about what she was doing. Thanks for the information, keep tuck-in and all will turn out fine for you. Why does government need to be in everything?

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