Traveling nurses in RVs fill health industry demands

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    Traveling nurses in RVs fill health industry demands
    Photo: Roxie Hammell

    The demand for nurses is exceeding the supply, and millennials are hitting the open road in today’s “gig” economy and becoming at least a partial solution to a workforce problem.

    Emergency room nurse Nathan Craft and his wife, Annie, (photo) don’t expect anything to be easy as they pull up stakes for the next two years. The RV they remodeled will be tight quarters for them and their two preschool-age kids. And there’s a certain amount of stress in not knowing where they’re going to set down next, reports KCUR.


    But like a growing number of nurses, the Crafts are answering the call of the open road. For them and others, the lifestyle and opportunity for higher pay as a traveling nurse outweighs the inconveniences of uprooting their lives for a new job every three months.

    Traveling nurses, a little-noticed sub-niche of the healthcare industry, seems to be catching on with millennials and younger baby boomers who, like the Crafts, want a change of scenery and a chance to make more money. Problem – in this case – the demand for nurses exceeding the supply.

    Travel nurses typically sign on with agencies that place them in short-term assignments. The usual posting is for 13 weeks, but employers can ask for a second stint if they still need the help. If that doesn’t happen, the nurse will start looking for a new assignment toward the end of the contract.

    For nurses, the expense and uncertainty is balanced out by the higher pay, some of which is tax-free, according to John Nolan, a partner and vice president of Heartland Healthcare Providers, an agency based in Kansas City.

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    Chuck and Dave (The TurtleGuys)

    I have been a Travel Nurse for the last 22 years, the last several years have been in a Class A motorhome. It is so much nicer to live in the motorhome than the temporary housing/hotels/long term stay places that I had been staying in. The most difficult part is finding a decent campground within a 30 minute drive of the hospitals. I have turned down many positions because the campgrounds in the area had horrible reviews or were too far away from the hospital.

    Florida hires tons of seasonal and travel RNs for the winter months, many of whom have multi-year contracts to return every winter. Unfortunately, FL also has some of the lowest RN pay in the country and some of the highest RV park rates so I have not yet worked in that state.

    I am currently working in west Texas at a small hospital that is being inundated due to the oil boom. The entire town and surrounding area are packed with travel trailers for oilfield workers. I had a lot of difficulty finding a clean, quiet place to park our rig but finally found one about a mile outside town. The only bad part is we don’t have potable water, so we have to bring in water jugs for drinking and cooking. I have yet to work at a hospital that had onsite hookups, but that sure would be nice, especially here.

    I have worked with many travel nurses who have or are in the process of switching to full-time RVing because it’s just easier. My husband travels with me and gets to write books and manage our software business from the RV.

    By the way, the biggest insurance headache for a travel nurse (just like for fulltime RVers) is finding an insurance provider network that follows you nationwide. We solved this by using Liberty Healthshare and hiring a “Direct Care Physician” from our hometown that we have 24/7 access to via phone, email, and video. Our total cost for the two of us is $718/mo (plus prescriptions) that gives us excellent coverage anywhere we travel with no worry about networks, copays, referrals, etc. and after our $1,000 “annual deductible” our medical bills are covered 100%.

    ParrotheadRN

    While most of the information is correct in this article I would like to add a comment. I worked as a Travel Nurse for the last 5 years of my career as an ER Nurse. Some facilities will provide a site for a traveler to live on(something to ask about in your interview with the Hospital). Some campgrounds will give you deep discounts for monthly or longer stays.

    Almost all of the agencies I worked for had insurance for the employee and you could purchase insurance for family members.

    The typical contract is for 13 weeks but can be extended. I know of nurses that have worked for one facility for several years. I usually kept my stay to less than a year. Many facilities will try to hire you from the agency if you fit well

    Overall I loved being a traveler but decided to hang up the stethoscope at 65 and just travel fulltime.

    While I found the pay good, it was not double what regular staff nurses made however the per diem and other paid benefits such as the health insurance made up for that.

    The great thing was you could work where you wanted to and for as long as you wanted and meet some great people. Best of all you learned new skills or sharpened existing skills