Travel nurse pay and perks: A breakdown

Many nurses in the U.S. are opting to leave their full-time positions at hospitals in favor of temporary travel roles, citing higher-paying contracts as a primary reason.  

Travel nurse positions can also come with additional bonuses and reimbursements to attract talent. A summary of current pay trends, bonuses and reimbursement is below.

Salary and benefits. The average salary for a travel nurse will vary widely based on various factors, including location, regional demand, hospital type and specialty, according to Bill Morgan, president of the Orlando, Fla.-based travel nurse staffing firm Jackson Nurse Professionals. Overall, high demand for nurses during the pandemic has spurred a significant jump in average pay.

"Year over year, the compensation for a travel nurse has increased 100 percent to 125 percent," he told Becker's.

Lynne Gross, president of Boca Raton, Fla.-based RNnetwork, has also seen base rates for travel nurses climb over the last year. At her staffing firm, base rates have increased 78 percent this year compared to last. 

Bonuses. More healthcare facilities are also offering cash bonuses to attract travel nurses, Ms. Gross said. These may entail sign-on or completion bonuses, along with loyalty or referral bonuses. 

Housing, meals and incidentals. Depending on the location of their assignment, travel nurses may be eligible for housing reimbursements or a meals stipend, according to Mr. Morgan. They may also be eligible to receive travel reimbursements, which can include costs of flights, hotel stays and car rentals.

At RNnetwork, payment for housing, meals and incidentals increased between 12 percent and 17 percent year over year because of a jump in the cost of lodging and expenses, Ms. Gross said.

Depending on their contract, nurses may also receive reimbursements for continuing education, scrubs or any other direct expenses tied to their new assignment.

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