Traveling nurses have been an integral part of the pandemic response since the very beginning. Today, amid economic uncertainty and an ongoing shortage of nurses, their importance in the healthcare landscape remains the same. Regardless of broader market conditions, dedicated healthcare professionals will continue to do important work in communities across the country. Perhaps the wage boom of the first pandemic is fading, but an essential nomadic workforce dedicated to improving patient outcomes and caring for those in need deserves a boost. be supported. While their salaries make headlines, medical professionals still face disparities in the provision of adequate housing. Often the responsibility for finding accommodation falls on the nurses themselves or the recruitment agencies that hire them. Companies often hire housing specialists because placing multiple nurses at once is difficult and time-consuming. Additionally, some hospital systems have chosen to explore in-house travel nursing programs as a way to recruit nurses more directly.
Housing is a complex space requiring a high degree of creativity. There are a number of decision points throughout the selection process, and without concrete, tested experience, healthcare systems may run the risk of underserving mobile workers. Achieving the best housing experience possible should be the guiding principle for the hospital or healthcare system adopting some form of in-house housing support, in addition to partnerships with third-party specialists. Giving traveling nurses a sense of home is central to these efforts. Operationalizing this type of housing structure, however, is a complex process that must be taken seriously. Providers who need ways to better accommodate traveling nurses should explore the following strategies.
The travel industry was one of the first to feel the impact of the pandemic. Ingenuity and creativity sustained a number of organizations during these early months. As nurses responded to spikes in Covid cases and the housing market fluctuated, housing providers faced an imperative: to welcome traveling healthcare professionals to support the pandemic response. People, processes and partnerships have been tested, and the housing-specific knowledge base established by this experience is not accessible to all current providers. At first glance, housing may seem like a relatively simple process. Organizing accommodations on a larger scale is as much a logistical process as it is a creative one. Nurses must go where the need is, which can sometimes place them in areas where inventory is limited or almost non-existent. Do you have access to the right tools? The ability to adapt at any time? The combination of these factors cannot easily be met by all housing solutions.
Attention to detail
From utilities like internet, to furniture, rental terms, to location-specific needs, the level of coordination required by a short-term stay is immense. The average length of assignment for a travel nurse is only 13 weeks. Housing markets vary across the country, and health systems are located in rural and metropolitan areas with different housing stocks. If health systems hope to support the level of movement and logistics associated with short-term housing, they will need to be prepared.
It is essential to seek candidates with prior housing experience, and the ability to adapt when arranging stays will best serve traveling nurses, whose varying needs cannot always be met by more traditional means of housing. corporate or vacation rental properties. The personalization of these stays is an integral part of providing comfortable accommodation. Health systems need to ask, do we have reliable supply partners? What level of flexibility are we able to provide?
Resources in addition to reimbursement
The structure of these types of in-house travel nursing programs has yet to be consolidated across the industry. However, as new programs have been launched, some health systems have indicated that housing reimbursement will be a primary means of supporting nurses with housing. While this might work for healthcare systems with relatively close clustered locations, what about more distributed networks? If that structure is based on how far a nurse will have to travel to qualify, what kind of additional burden does that place on healthcare professionals? In addition to reimbursement policies, what kinds of resources are health systems prepared to offer traveling nurses?
Ultimately, how providers navigate in-house travel nursing programs is at their discretion. However, awareness of the tensions within the accommodation space will better guide the support of incoming nurses. Figuring out the way forward will take creativity, attention to detail, and the infrastructure to provide traveling professionals with the resources to make informed housing decisions. Temporary assignment housing is more than just a place to stay, it’s a place to call home.