Tonya is reading a book on the couch of her living room in her temporary apartment in Houston, Texas. The time is 6 pm and she is watching one of her favorite shows on Amazon Prime Video. She is on call and enjoying her relaxation time. Then her phone goes off. Her “Billie Jean” ringtone blares loudly. She picks up the phone. It is her manager. She calls her into work the night shift.
Tonya always has her stuff ready to go. She is always prepared to get called into the hospital. She plans her day around it. If she does not get called in then she gets more time to herself. She was okay with that. She would rather be prepared than get caught off guard. She cannot control whether or not she gets called into or not. However, she can control how prepared she is.
Tonya chooses to be on top of the things she can control. That can sometimes be a luxury in the nursing field. Especially, in travel nursing. So many variables are out of her control when she moves to a new place to begin a new job at a different hospital or clinic. There are a lot of intangibles.
Will she like the medical staff and their policies? Will she be able to operate with autonomy? Will her manager be breathing down her neck? How busy is the healthcare facility? How do the patients behave and react to Tonya? Are the doctors nice and encouraging? Or are they arrogant and think they are always right because they went to medical school?
You do not know a lot of the answers to these questions when you are going into the job. You get a location and a hospital. Those are the only two things that are set in stone. Sometimes, they even change that up on you. Tonya has gotten used to it. She knows that life does always deal in absolutes. Especially, in travel nursing. After all, she knew this would be the case when she signed up for the job. That did not stop her, though.
When Tonya was studying started nursing ten years in ago as a freshman in college, she realized this was an industry with one of the biggest labor shortages in the country. She always knew she wanted to get into the medical field but did not exactly know which area of it to study. She did not want to go medical school because of the amount of time she would have to spend in school. Also, the potential school debt was not appealing either.
Nursing made sense to her. The baby boomer generation, which are people born from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, are getting much older and are nearing retirement age. This generation is still a large part of our population today. Since they are getting old, many of them are bound to have health issues as they age. This means there could be more patients than ever flooding into hospitals.
There are not enough nurses in the industry to handle today’s patient load. Imagine how bad it could be in ten years when all those baby boomers can checking into the hospital. With this valuable insight, Tonya applied some basic economics and business knowledge to this situation. Whenever there is a shortage of a valuable good on the market, it’s price is bound to go up.
Labor is essentially a capital good. Nurses are capital goods the Unites States is in need of at the moment. Tonya decided to take advantage of the nursing labor market and dive right in. She knew now was the time become a nurse in the United States.
Registered nurses make an average of $67,000 per year. Registered nurses that are straight out of school make an average of $52,000. Experienced registered nurses can make north of $80,000 per year.
However, Tonya wanted to maximize her income. She decided to spend another two years in school to get an advanced degree in nursing and become a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners perform many of the same tasks as licensed physicians. They can diagnose and prescribe. They can also sometimes serve as your primary care provider as well.
What is the difference between a nurse practitioner and a physician? The nurse practitioner will actually do the patient treating while the doctor will more of the diagnosing of the patient. Hence, they still focus more on patient care.
A nurse practitioner makes $97,000 per year on average. Experienced nurse practitioners can make over $120,000 per year. Nurse practitioners that are fresh out of school can make an average of $80,000 per year. That is not a bad salary for someone in their mid-twenties.
Tonya went through six years, four years of undergraduate and two years of graduate school, of school and became a nurse practitioner. She worked in the neonatal intensive care unit for two years before stumbling into travel nursing. Travel nurses are sent to different healthcare facilities all over the country to fill short-term nursing shortages for a specific area of the facility.
Travel nurses make on $77,000 a year on average. They are compensated more for leaving their old lives behind and adjusting to a new environment and job for several months. Tonya knew this going in. The salary was what originally drew her to the job. Because she is a nurse practitioner makes even more that a regular travel nurse. Last year, she made just over $115,000. That's pretty good for a 28-year-old woman only four years out of school.
Tonya has also enjoyed traveling the U.S. She has been travel nursing for two years and usually does three assignments a year. She has lived in San Antonio, Houston, New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC. She has loved all those areas.
Tonya is so thankful for her job and life. None of this would be possible had she not taken advantage of the current labor market for nurses. She did her research, did the work, and got what she wanted. She encourages everyone else to do the same. Look into the nursing field if you have not already. There has not been a better time in our nation's history to do so.