Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Travel Nursing in Oregon

Travel nurses are employed by a staffing agency, which contracts with health care facilities to provide RN coverage for short periods of time. The typical assignment is 13 weeks, but can be shorter or longer depending on the facility’s needs or if the parties agree to an extension. The staffing agency usually helps the traveler locate housing, and can reimburse some travel and licensing costs. They also vet the candidates’ skills and specialties, reducing the administrative burden on healthcare facilities. This arrangement allows travelers to work in areas far from home, and allows healthcare facilities short-term, stable contracts to meet workforce needs.
Nearly all travel nurses in Oregon work in hospitals and health systems. According to The Demand for Nursing Professionals in Oregon, a report from the Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN), nearly 75 percent of hospitals and health systems surveyed reported using travelers in 2015, in contrast with less than 10 percent of all other kinds of facilities.

No agency or organization keeps steady statistics on the number of travelers, but there are a few things we can say about the occupation. We can get a ballpark estimate of how many travelers work in Oregon by using some unpublished data gathered by OCN. In the last three years, there were 850 RNs with an active Oregon nursing license who worked in Oregon and lived outside the state certified to practice in the state using licensure they received in another state.

This number includes travel nurses coming from out of state, the largest numbers of which come from nearby states like California, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona, as well as states like Texas and Florida. This estimate captures some non-travelers, such as nurses practicing telemedicine in Oregon across state lines, and fails to capture in-state travelers (such as a Portland-based nurse who works in Ontario or Roseburg).

Based on this data, an estimated 500 to 1,200 travel nurses likely worked in Oregon over the past three years, with fluctuations based on economic conditions and health policy changes. Travelers were a small part of the 33,421 RNs employed in the state in 2014 according to Oregon Employment Department data.

Read the full article by Workforce Analyst Henry Fields

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