It’s gotten to the point where doctors are saying, “Maybe I should quit being a doctor and go be a nurse,” said Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer at Georgia’s Augusta University Medical Center, which has on occasion seen 20 to 30 resignations in a week from nurses taking traveling jobs.
The average pay for a traveling nurse has soared from roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per week before the pandemic to $3,000 to $5,000 now, said Sophia Morris, a vice president at San Diego-based health care staffing firm Aya Healthcare. She said Aya has 48,000 openings for traveling nurses to fill.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly lamented recently that the state’s hospitals risk being outbid for nurses by other states that pay a “fortune.” She said Wednesday that several hospitals, including one in Topeka, had open beds but no nurses to staff them.
“I think clearly people are taking advantage of the demand that is out there,” Shields said. “I hate to use `gouged’ as a description, but we are clearly paying a premium and allowing people to have fairly high profit margins.”
In Texas, more than 6,000 travel nurses have flooded the state to help with the surge through a state-supported program. But on the same day that 19 of them went to work at a hospital in the northern part of the state, 20 other nurses at the same place gave notice that they would be leaving for a traveling contract, said Carrie Kroll, a vice president at the Texas Hospital Association.
“The nurses who haven’t left, who have stayed with their facilities, they are seeing these other people come in now who are making more money. It provides a tense working environment,” Kroll said.
The pandemic was in its early stages when Kim Davis, 36, decided to quit her job at an Arkansas hospital and become a travel nurse. She said she has roughly doubled her income in the 14 months that she has been treating patients in intensive care units in Phoenix; San Bernardino, California; and Tampa, Florida.
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