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Survey Reveals About One-third of Hospitals Need Travel Nurses to Function

February 27, 2007
Most Hospitals Now use Travel Nurses to Supplement Core Staff

SAN DIEGO, CA -- About one-third of hospital chief nursing officers (CNOs) say their hospitals could not function without the services of travel nurses, according to a new survey.

Conducted by AMN Healthcare, the nation’s largest health care staffing firm, the survey examines how and why hospitals use travel nurses, who typically work temporary assignments lasting from a few weeks to over a year. Thirty-one percent of CNOs surveyed said the statement "our hospital could not function without travel nurses" was "very true." An additional 26.48% said the statement was at least "somewhat true."

The clinical workforce in the United States has become increasingly mobile," notes Susan Nowakowski, president and CEO of AMN Healthcare. "A growing number of nurses are considering travel opportunities, filling gaps in hospital staffs caused by worker shortages. Travel nurses play a critical role in maintaining services and quality of care at hospitals and other medical settings nationwide."

Two-thirds of CNOs surveyed indicated their hospitals had used travel nurses sometime during the previous 12 months to supplement their existing staffs. The majority (57.88%) said that their hospitals currently are using travel nurses. One-third of CNOs said their hospitals typically use one to five travel nurses per month, while 30% said their hospitals use six or more travel nurses per month.

The use of travel nurses is driven largely by the national nurse shortage, the survey suggests. Over 70% of CNOs surveyed said that an inability to recruit enough permanent staff is a "most important" reason for using travel nurses. According to Nowakowski, hospitals typically will use travel nurses to fill gaps in the nursing staff until permanent nurses can be found. Other reasons CNOs cited for using travel nurses included maintaining quality of care, filling in for retiring or relocating nurses or those on family leave, and preventing revenue loss resulting when beds are closed due to inadequate nurse staffing.

The great majority of CNOs surveyed (93%) rated the skill level of travel nurses as either "adequate" or "equal or superior to" existing staff. Seventy-four percent of CNOs indicated that the value of travel nurses to their hospitals is either "worth the cost" or "break even."

AMN Healthcare’s 2007 Survey of Chief Nursing Officers included responses from 352 CNOs based at hospitals located nationwide. A copy of the survey is available at

 AMN Healthcare is the largest temporary healthcare staffing company in the United States. The company is the largest nationwide provider of travel nurse staffing services, locum tenens (temporary physician staffing) and physician permanent placement services and also a leading nationwide provider of allied healthcare professionals. AMN

Healthcare recruits healthcare professionals both nationally and internationally and places them on variable lengths of assignments and in permanent positions at acute-care hospitals, physician practice groups and other healthcare facilities throughout the United States.

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