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13-Week Nursing Contracts: Yes or No?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 4 years ago
  • Author:by Kate Andrews

We know that 13-week travel nursing contracts are standard for U.S. healthcare facilities, but as explored in last week’s blog post, it’s no longer the only option. So, how do you know when these short contracts are the right choice for you? And, when should alternatives be explored? 

In this post, we examine some of the common staffing challenges that healthcare facilities face today and the steps you can take to make sure the optimum solution is delivered. 

Challenge 1: We have a consistently high vacancy rate at our facility. Could travel nurses offer the solution? 

If your facility has multiple vacancies, travel nurses could work out to be a very expensive option. While they’ll certainly help you fill vacancies quickly, you’ll spend more money in the long run on high hourly pay rates. Additionally, travel nurses have a consistently higher drop-off rate compared to permanent staff or international nurses, so the chances are that your vacancies will keep opening up anyway. 

Challenge 2: We have a high staff turnover rate. Could travel nurses solve this problem once and for all? 

If you’re continuously losing nursing staff, then the chances are there’s a bigger issue in your organization that needs to be addressed, whether that’s your orientation process, workload, or the benefits provided for your nurses. Ironing out these challenges means your permanent staff are likely to remain with your facility, and, in turn, you won’t need to spend more money and time on hiring and training a continuous stream of travel nurses. 

Challenge 3: A key member of the nursing team has just left our facility unexpectedly. Shall we draft in the help of a travel nurse? 

Absolutely. Travel nurses are an ideal option when you need qualified staff to fill a gap quickly. However, there’s a caveat: A travel nurse should only be used in this scenario as a short-term solution while you’re recruiting and training a new permanent member of staff.  

Challenge 4: Cold and flu season is approaching! Surely travel nurses are the right option to help us deal with higher patient numbers? 

You’re correct. 13-week contracts are ideal when you know there’s going to be a short-term spike in patient demand. 

Challenge 5: A new unit is opening in our facility, and we need nurses to staff it. Would travel nurses be suitable? 

A new facility will require permanent staff to ensure optimum success and the best patient care from day one. Whether you need travel nurses to fulfill these roles depends on how much time you’ve had to prepare for the new unit. If you’ve had more than 12 months to plan, then you should have been able to map out a strategy to recruit permanent nurses who are ready to start work in time for the opening. If it’s been a last-minute addition to the facility, then travel nurses can help you get things started while you recruit permanent staff. 

What Are The Alternatives To 13-Week Contracts?  

More healthcare facilities are going global and using established staffing agencies to secure the very best international nurses who will help them to reduce costs and improve patient care.

Find out more about international nurses and other staffing alternatives in our free guide - "Alternatives to the traditional 13-week assignment."

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