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

Amidst the tumultuous landscape of the pandemic, the healthcare industry has faced an unprecedented challenge: a mass exodus of nearly 100,000 dedicated nurses from the workforce, with an additional 800,000 projected to follow suit by 2027, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

In response to this staggering shortage, hospital and health system administrators have witnessed a dramatic surge in contract labor budgets, skyrocketing to over 250%, as facilities increasingly lean on travel nurses to fill critical gaps. Yet, despite recent fluctuations in demand for travel nurses, the need for short-term labor persists at levels surpassing those seen before the pandemic. Meanwhile, vital full-time positions remain unfilled, and patient care capacities remain capped.

This reality leaves human resource leaders facing an uphill battle, navigating the complex interplay of recruiting, retention, and soaring labor costs while striving to maintain fiscal stability. The urgency of this situation demands swift and decisive action to safeguard the integrity of our healthcare systems and ensure the well-being of patients and facilities.

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