Flipping the calendar to October. The home stretch. Time for chili, football, and pumpkin spice everything. It’s also time for that last push for contracts to the end of the year. I thought this week I’d give you an idea of where I see the market and why this October could be different than years past.
First off, it’s flu season. Every indication is that the flu this year will hit harder than in years past. And last year was bad. An estimated 80,000 Americans died from the flu last year. That was the highest in years. The outlook for this year doesn’t seem any better. I’ve read some estimates that we’ll exceed last years death total. That means lots of ER visitors, and lots of admissions from our aging population with complications from the flu. Some hospitals didn’t staff up properly last year and got caught short. It doesn’t seem like it’s playing out like that this year. There is more talk about flu season from the hospital end than I’ve heard in many years. This one could be rough. Buckle up.
Second, the extended slow-down in the spring may have pushed the clock back on what once was a very predictable season. Normally in the spring we see a slight pull back, the same with November into December. Because the spring slow down dragged into June this year, we are seeing a shift in hiring patterns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure November into December will still slow down, but not nearly at the pace we’ve seen in years past. We aren’t the only ones seeing this. If you listen to the publicly traded travel nurse staffing companies when they’ve reported earnings this year, they have indicated the same thing. One of the biggest has also gone as far as to say they will continue to grow at a good rate through the end of the year.
Third, the gig economy is real and it’s happening in our industry. I’ve wrote about it before, so I won’t spend a ton of time on it here. How hospitals hire staff has changed. Period. It isn’t 2004 anymore. When the workforce changes, and the methods in which employers hire changes, the shift in the industry is inevitable. Previously predictable patterns will disappear.
Finally, it’s become more and more clear the demographic in travel nursing has changed. The number of younger nurses and nurses with families out there traveling has grown steadily over the past few years. The old days of time off over the holidays to see the grandkids has shifted to taking a contract in a different part of the country each year for the holidays. I’m not saying the first example doesn’t still happen, because it does. It just isn’t as defined as in years past. Holiday destination contracts are a real thing now.
So, what does this mean for you? In short, it means don’t give up. The jobs are there. The needs are real. Don’t listen to the negative voices. If you want something bad enough, go get it. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way. I’ll borrow a quote from Mark Cuban, “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.” It won’t be easy, but nothing rewarding ever comes easy.