Searching for a new position? The 2018 travel nurse job market is starting strong.
The uncertainty around a repeal of the Affordable Care Act slowed the travel nurse job market for much of 2017, according to recruiters we talked to about the outlook for the first quarter of 2018.
But, the recruiters said, the market seemed to loosen up almost immediately once the new tax bill was passed in December. That tax bill included a repeal of the controversial ACA insurance mandate. While there is still uncertainty around the ACA, that late-year pick up in hiring doesn’t seem to be slowing, according to recruiters, and the market is still growing. Hospitals are buying again.
That is great news for traveling healthcare professionals. Additionally, the recruiters did offer some insights for travelers to keep in mind while mulling placements for 2018.
The travel nurse job market will continue to get younger.
More and more young travel nurses will continue to enter the travel nurse job market, chasing the storied dollars they’ve heard about, making the job market much more crowded for everyone else.
Recruiters said that these young travel nurses should remember that it will help them hit the ground running if they have a variety of experience. Don’t get blinded by the promise of dollars. If you are a young nurse with only a few years of work behind you, it may be difficult to get a job when you are in a pool of other candidates who have many more years of experience.
You have two options. You can take another permanent job and build your resume by learning new skills and exploring other specialties. Or, you can work with your recruiter and find travel jobs that will do the same thing. There are hospitals that will hire less experienced nurses. But, you may have to sacrifice location or pay to get those positions.
The job market will favor the flexible.
Not only is the travel nurse job market crowded, it’s a crowded buyer’s market. The advantage, at least for now, belongs to the hospital. That means the nurses who want to work are going to need to be flexible, according to the recruiters with whom we spoke.
Only chasing dollars you won’t get hired, they say, especially as a young travel nurse.
If the trifecta is pay, location, and shift, don’t hold out waiting for a contract with all three–good pay, good location, and preferred shift–to suddenly appear. You won’t likely get it. Instead, determine which of those you can be flexible on. It’s going to make it easier for your recruiter to find you that next contract.
There is one combo that is going to be difficult to find, the recruiters said. If you want good pay and good location you won’t get that. The bad locations are paying more; the good locations are paying less.
The recruiter and travel nurse relationship will be more critical than ever.
Recruiters also told us that they’ve seen the number of applicants for jobs going up two- and three-fold over the last year to six months. This requires recruiters to move fast. The recruiters said it highlights the need for a close relationship between nurses and their recruiters. For Scott Dromgoole, a recruiter with Liquid Agents Healthcare, that starts with communication and setting expectations early.
“Tell me what you want,” he said. “Tell me what you need when you need it. That way I can make you happy.”
Dromgoole said that type of communication is even more important now that the market is crowded. When he knows what his nurses are looking for and what will make them happy, he can submit them to jobs he knows they will like before they fill up without it requiring a long discussion. That increases their likelihood of landing a contract.
This article first appeared on Healthcare Traveler Today.