A nurse wearing a mask stares out the window as she commutes to work by bus.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, the nursing shortage remains front and center. Nearly 100,000 nurses left the profession during the pandemic, with 800,000 registered nurses and 184,000 licensed practical nurses likely to leave the profession by 2027, according to NCSBN's 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey.

Roughly 20% of our country's licensed RNs and LPNs/LVNs will likely leave the profession by 2027.

During the pandemic, hospitals relied on travel nurses to ease staffing shortages. And since then, hospital administrators have seen contract labor budgets balloon by more than 250%. In early 2022, the national average pay for a travel nurse was $150 per hour.

A hospital can save an average of $3,140,000 for every 20 travel RNs eliminated.

According to the 2024 Cost of Caring Report by the American Hospital Association, hospital labor costs surged by over $42.5 billion between 2021 and 2023, reaching a total of $839 billion. These labor costs represent nearly 60% of the average hospital's expenses.

Hospitals have increasingly relied on costly contract labor to address staffing shortages and ensure continuous patient care, spending approximately $51.1 billion on contracted staff in 2023.

Relying on travel nurses is not a cost-effective, long-term strategy for healthcare workforce management. Consequently, hospitals and health systems are exploring various staffing solutions to establish a sustainable workforce for the future.

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