Travel nursing by the numbers: 9 stats

ASCs are struggling to recruit and retain nurses, in part because of skyrocketing travel nurse pay — creating what some administrators call a "wage war."

Here are nine key stats on travel nurses:

1. Travel nurses receive an average hourly rate of $120 an hour, according to the "2021 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report." 

2. The RN vacancy rate in 2021 was almost a full percentage point higher than 2020 at 9.9 percent, and 62 percent of hospitals have an RN vacancy rate of higher than 7.5 percent, brought on by the economy and COVID-19, according to the staffing report.

3. Vivian Health, a healthcare recruiting firm, saw record-breaking demand for travel nurses in September 2021, a 68 percent higher demand than September 2020. 

4. Vivian Health also saw all-time high average pay for travel nurse contracts in September 2021 at $3,110 per week, up 39.4 percent from September 2020. 

5. Pittsburgh-based UPMC paid an estimated $85 an hour for a traveling nurse or a nurse from an agency before the pandemic. This year, the health system is facing rates between $225 and $250 an hour. 

6. Travel nurses made on average $1,673 per week pre-pandemic. Now, they can get more than $4,000 per week in some cases, according to a report from Sumner College.

7. Hospitals in the Southeast had the highest RN turnover rate at 24.9 percent, a 7.2 percentage point increase from 2019. The Northeast had the lowest turnover rate of 13.2 percent, a 0.6 percentage point decrease from 2019. 

8. The median annual wage for registered nurses was $75,330 in May 2020, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,410, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $116,230.

9. Hospitals with 200 to 349 beds had the highest RN turnover rate of 22.9 percent in September 2021t, a 5.8 percentage point increase from 2019, according to a report from the New Jersey Nurses Association.

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