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A New Travel Nurse Economy

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Is the Staffing Industry in a bull market in a receding economy? The pandemic placed unprecedented challenges resulting in a mixed economy with pros and cons. Many hospitals have seen significant revenue losses due to an estimated 28.4 million elective surgeries being canceled or postponed in 2020.

The World Bank

According to the World Bank, the United States current health expenditure as a % of GDP is trending histrionically upwards with 16.89 % (2018) when compared to the United Kingdom 10.00; Germany 11.43%, Israel 7.52%; and developing countries such as Ghana 3.54% and South Asia 3.48%. It shows the importance of the health sector in the whole economy and indicates the societal priority where health is measured in monetary terms.

National health spending is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.4 per cent for 2019-28 and to reach $6.2 trillion by 2028.

How have these numbers changed since the COVID-19 pandemic? Your guess, (we assume) is that expenditures have gone up exponentially perhaps due to the increase of health costs during a pandemic driving spending up. Conversely ,-- and unexpectedly so, healthcare utilization and spending dropped quickly due to cancellations of Non-essential Elective Surgeries & Care to increase hospital capacity for COVID-19 admissions and thus mitigate community spread in drop in in-person care. Telemedicine evolved as a booming treatment model adopted by healthcare providers. Building an approach that relies on better data, better devices and better virtual assessment workflows that didn’t exist (were not integrated) pre-COVID.

According to Jeff Lagasse of Healthcare Finance, one of the big developments in 2021 will be the continued evolution of the internet of medical things, expanding telehealth’s capabilities and allowing for more specialty interactive devices that can capture and communicate health data.”

Travel Nurse Industry

Travel nursing industry is a pretty stable place to prosper in today’s financial climate. A new report from financial advisory firm Capstone Headwaters states that while a demand for surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists softened during the pandemic, requests surged for nurses in areas facing acute COVID outbreaks. The report found the firm Cross Country Healthcare dealt with a 60% increase in demand for travel nurses in 2020. In 2020, throughout the pandemic AMN outperformed and reported record-high revenues in Q1 of $602 million more than double with a total Market Cap of 2.1 billion (See Report)

Despite a pandemic economy that has produced traumatic layoffs across many sectors of industry, analysts are predicting a shortage of 50,000. By 2022, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs to address the growing gaps in professional expansion with a focus on health equity, the increased demand for geriatric specialists, replacement of retirees, and to avoid a nursing shortage.

Expected Nursing Trends in 2021 based on the newest insights from the American Nurses Association (ANA), American Nurse Today (ANT), and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

  1. Increase in Nurses opting to become Travel nurses due to flexibility,13-week assignments, guaranteed hours.

  2. A greater number of States will grant Nurse Practitioners full practice.

  3. More States will join the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) making it easy for travel nurses to work across state lines during emergencies.

  4. The share of nurses who are male went up from 2.2% in 1960 to 12% in 2019.

  5. The field of Health Informatics and Telehealth will become more mainstream.

  6. More Patients and Providers use of Telehealth to conduct Patient Assessments.


ANA. (2021). Workforce. Retrieved from American Nurses Association:

CMS.Gov. (2020). National Health Expenditure Data. Retrieved from Centers for Medicare & Medicard Services:

Lagasse, J. (2021, Dec 15). Telehealth's evolution in 2020 will continue in the new year with more streamlined technologies. Retrieved from Healthcare Finance:

Williams, E., & Surowiak, M. (2020). Healthcare Staffing. Retrieved from Capstone Headwaters:

World Bank. (2020). Current Health Expenditure (% of GDP). Retrieved from The World Bank:

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