Nurse hiring demand can change with the season — or with short-term economic or political events —  but today’s long-term demand forecast points steadily upward.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, considerably faster than the average for all occupations.

Good new for RNs, and especially for travelers. While you may not exactly be in the driver’s seat, you’re a lot closer to it than you were several years ago. Employers are competing for you. Yay! Healthcare providers will continue to rely on contingent workers to shore up permanent staff, and they will be even more diligent about keeping skilled, reliable travelers on board.

How might you expect healthcare employers react in this competitive market?

Savvy travel nursing agencies will tell you that several strategies could become more common:

  • More willingness to extend assignments: An extension is often an easy choice for an employer. Extensions and renewals need no additional onboarding or orientation. The in-house team is familiar with the traveler, and know that the cultural fit is good.
  • Advance postings: Early postings give potential hires more time to make plans, secure documentation and evaluate competitive offers. For the employer, that can also mean a choice between several highly qualified candidates, ultimately resulting in better patient care.
  • Higher Wages: A recent survey from Medscape concluded that once again, annual gross salaries (before taxes) for RNs are on the rise. Bearing in mind that the forces that act on traveler pay can be seasonal — as well as regional — in general, traveler pay tracks with that of permanent nursing staff. As permanent staff wages grow, traveler compensation (which is already often higher than that of staff compensation) is also expected to rise. Experienced and credentialed travelers are likely to experience even better pay trends.

Steady Rise in Healthcare Staff Demand

For now, demand for healthcare staff seems to have stabilized after the heated public policy debate surrounding healthcare legislation. The need for clinicians continues to grow as baby boomers age and experienced care providers retire from the workforce.Additional positive forces on demand include low unemployment rates, which drives growth in workers with healthcare coverage.

Bottom line: nurses are more needed than ever, whether it’s in travel nursing jobs or on permanent staff.