Top Travel Nursing Challenges and How Staffing Firms Can Help
Last time updated: 2 October, 2023
Last time updated: 2 October, 2023
Last updated on October 2nd, 2023 at 03:56 pm
The travel nursing industry has faced significant challenges in recent years, particularly in relation to tax and pay issues. During the pandemic and shortly after, there was a huge need for healthcare workers, and travel nurses saw wages double or even triple. Now, many healthcare facilities and staffing firms are trying to normalize pay rates and travel nursing as a whole is contracting.
Travel nurses play a crucial role in meeting staffing shortages in healthcare facilities and often find themselves grappling with complex tax regulations and inadequate pay rates. This article will delve into the top concerns faced by travel nurses in these areas and explore how healthcare staffing firms can best support their travel nurse employees.
While travel nursing was in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in higher pay rates, the current landscape has changed. Demand for travel nursing has decreased, leading to lower pay rates. Travel nurses now face the challenge of finding assignments that offer adequate compensation.
Additionally, there have been proposals to cap travel nurse wages, citing concerns about the destabilization of the healthcare system due to high wages. Staffing advocacy groups argue against this change, emphasizing that capping wages would exacerbate the existing nursing shortage.
One of the primary challenges for travel nurses is navigating the intricacies of tax regulations when working in different states. Each state has its own set of laws, requiring nurses to file non-resident tax returns in each state they work. Additionally, travel nurses must establish a “tax home,” which refers to the area where they earn their income.
Determining a Tax Home
To determine their tax home, travel nurses have two options. They can either establish a tax home in the area where they have worked the most, or they can return home for at least 30 days out of the year and provide evidence of paying expenses such as mortgage, rent, and utilities. Properly establishing a tax home is essential for travel nurses to ensure compliance with tax laws and maximize their tax benefits.
Meeting Stipend Rules
Another tax-related challenge for travel nurses is the treatment of stipends. Unlike staff nurses, travel nurses receive tax-free stipends to cover expenses such as travel and housing. However, to qualify for tax-free treatment, travel nurses must adhere to strict IRS rules. It’s important for travel nurses to consult with certified tax professionals who specialize in the healthcare industry to ensure their stipends are properly accounted for and to avoid potential issues when securing loans or disability payments.
In addition to tax and pay issues, travel nurses have a range of concerns that can impact their job satisfaction and overall well-being. These concerns include:
Travel nursing is characterized by short-term contracts, which can create uncertainty for nurses regarding future assignments. This lack of job security can add stress and anxiety to an already demanding profession.
Adapting to Different Work Settings
Travel nurses frequently work in different healthcare facilities, each with its own protocols, charting systems, and routines. Adapting to these new environments can be challenging, and nurses must quickly learn to work effectively within different teams.
Licensing and Credentialing
Maintaining active nursing licenses in multiple states is a requirement for travel nurses. This process involves additional paperwork, fees, and continuing education requirements. Keeping up with licensing and credentialing can be time-consuming and costly.
Housing and Accommodations
Travel nurses often have to relocate every 13 weeks or less, making finding suitable housing for short-term assignments a significant concern. Limited availability and high costs in popular travel nurse destinations can make securing safe and comfortable accommodations challenging.
The demanding nature of nursing, coupled with the uncertainties of travel assignments, can make it difficult for travel nurses to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Irregular schedules, long shifts, and being away from family and friends can take a toll on their personal well-being.
Travel nurses may encounter understaffed facilities, high patient loads, or inadequate resources depending on the location of their assignments. These challenges, combined with day-to-day nursing issues, can contribute to stress and burnout.
To address these pay issues, healthcare staffing firms can take several steps.
Travel nursing comes with its fair share of challenges, particularly in relation to tax and pay issues. Navigating tax regulations, securing adequate pay rates, and addressing concerns related to job security, adapting to different work settings, and working long hours can be overwhelming for travel nurses. However, by partnering with healthcare staffing firms that prioritize their needs, travel nurses can overcome these challenges and thrive in their careers. Learn more about our healthcare staffing and payroll funding solutions.
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