Healthcare staffing crisis unwrapped

What is the healthcare staffing crisis?

The staffing shortage has deteriorated further as a result of COVID-19. Healthcare workers are quitting at drastic rates, putting a strain on the industry. It has led to hospitals struggling to fill positions because of the shortage of available talent.

 However, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln predicts that this will worsen over the next ten years. Thus, hospitals find themselves in a challenging situation, and their workers are becoming overworked. This is where contract workers come in. To combat the healthcare staffing crisis hospitals have been turning to healthcare recruitment agencies like Talent4Health, to recruit contract workers.

What are contract workers?

Contract workers are individuals recruited to work for a specified time. One of these contracted workers in the healthcare industry is a travel nurse, who goes to a specified hospital for 13 weeks. In the United States there are currently over 1,696,386 travel nurses employed. In 2020, this number grew 35% in comparison to 2019 and is now expected to rise. 2020 was the year of change for nurses.

During COVID-19 travel nurses were leaving their permanent roles in the search for better pay, and work-life balance. Which is something some found by becoming a travel nurse. This is shown in a study, as 25% of respondents said they became a travel nurse for better pay.

Contract workers aren’t just in the healthcare industry. One industry that has experienced a contract worker boom recently is the tech industry. However, they exist in nearly every industry – music, teaching, finance, retail, and more.

female travel nurses in group smiling

Travel nurses help to fill a gap

To solve the staffing crisis we need to fill the gap and travel nurses have been a popular solution. As a result, there has been a high demand and need for travel nurses, with demand rising by 284% last year.

There are not enough permanent nurses to fill the void created by the staffing crisis, that is a fact. So, one of the short-term solutions has been to employ contract workers to fill vacancies. Travel nurses provide flexibility, and sufficient training and experience to be a great benefit and help to the hospital. Ultimately, travel nurses help to ease the staffing burden and are often easier to employ than permanent workers with the help of recruitment agencies.

What are the benefits of employing a travel nurse?

Other than filling in the gap caused by the healthcare staffing crisis, employing a contract worker brings a multitude of benefits for healthcare organizations.


While travel nurses can be paid well, they are often cheaper to hire than permanent nurses as they are mostly only needed for short amounts of time. Travel nurses are often hired during expected surges where healthcare demands are higher, such as COVID-19 or flu seasons. These periods don’t last forever. Some hospitals only use travel nurses as a short-term solution to a rise in demand for healthcare services. Additionally, hiring a travel nurse means that no extra expenses need to be paid, such as:


  • Training
  • Overtime
  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off
  • and more…

Quick solution

Hiring a travel nurse through a recruitment agency can save time significantly. Not only because a recruitment agency can conduct the hiring process for you, but because they’re highly flexible. Moreover, if there is a need for nurses, a travel nurse is a quick and easy solution. This unburdens both the organization and the HR departments, as it helps to alleviate the pressures put on them by the healthcare staffing crisis.

travel nurse smiling outside hospital


Travel nurses can be highly experienced. They gain this experience from working in different locations and experiencing varying working environments. Moreover, travel nurses develop a broader understanding of certain tasks and will be able to cope with a variety of different roles.

Boost morale

A key benefit of employing travel nurses is that it can boost workforce morale. Hiring travel nurses helps to relieve some pressure on the other healthcare staff. Instead of taking on more work because of staff shortages, they can get help with tasks from travel nurses. Staff shortages can also increase the risk of burnout and hiring travel nurses may help to prevent this.

Final thoughts

While hiring contract workers is a short-term solution, it is a solution that should be considered by organizations. Hiring contract workers offers a quick and easy way of filling vacancies with experienced and qualified nurses. In the current staffing crisis, healthcare organizations will be able to be flexible in their response to healthcare demands, whilst boasting a happier and more diverse workforce.

Chloe Mumford

Chloe Mumford


Chloe Mumford is a content writer and researcher for US Tech Solutions. After completing her BSc in Sociology, Chloe transitioned over into the workforce management industry with an interest in talent solutions. She writes about on-demand talent solutions, Total Talent Management and the potential of talent technology. She can be reached via LinkedIn.