Traveling nurses find lucrative, high-demand gigs in Colorado and beyond

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Medical personnel adjust their personal protective equipment while working in the emergency department at NYC Health + Hospitals Metropolitan in New York. Hospitals and nursing homes in New York are bracing for the possibility that a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers could lead to staff shortages when it takes effect Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. Doctors and nurses — and also support staff, like food service workers and cleaners — have been given until Sept. 27 to get at least their first vaccine shot in one of the nation’s most aggressive plans to protect patients. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

DENVER (KDVR) — A simple Google search for “traveling nurse jobs – Denver” will highlight the need hospitals and outpatient facilities in Colorado have for nurses and other staff.

Nurses who choose to travel for work say the profession is lucrative.

“I have almost doubled the amount I made in Ohio, especially going from a double direct pay increase as soon as I signed up for travel nursing,” Austin Jeffers, a travel nurse in Arizona, said.

Jeffers said he just received his license for Colorado and is looking to take a traveling nurse job in the Denver metro or mountain areas soon. His first traveling nurse job was in Lubbock, Texas, and he has now worked a few times in Phoenix.

“I’m hoping with Colorado it’ll be year two, maybe I can settle into a staff nursing job,” Jeffers said.

But he said right now since he has no commitments anywhere, being a traveling nurse is a great gig and he said more full-time staff nurses are seeing the benefits in the temporary jobs.

“There is an influx of nurses becoming travelers, which also creates such a need, so it’s a circle of hospitals dumping money into travel nurses instead of paying their staff nurses,” Jeffers said.

The majority of traveling nurse jobs are a maximum of three months and can take people all over the country, if not the world, for work.

Jeffers said there are some downfalls, though. He does have to pay more for health insurance and he doesn’t get a committed 401K through work.

“I think hospitals need to incentivize staff nurses to stay. You don’t want a hospital full of travel nurses,” Jeffers said.

Dan Weaver with UCHealth responded to the rising demand:

“Travel nurses are certainly needed right now. UCHealth hospitals are caring for about 20% more patients than usual, which means we have about 20% more clinical shifts to fill. Travel nurses help fill that gap, along with our employed nurses and other staff members who are picking up additional shifts. However – travel nurses are also expensive for hospitals. Because of demand, travel nurses and their organizations are able to get very high hourly rates.”

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