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What Does a Travel Nurse Do and How Do They Affect Talent Management?

nurse holding a coffee and smiling outside of the hospital

Contingent workers have become a mainstay in the healthcare space, particularly travel nurses. With inflation affecting supply chains in nearly every sector, skill gaps ever widening, and a seemingly-endless talent shortage, it's no wonder facilities are increasingly reliant on travel staff. However, travel nurses come at a premium cost, so overreliance on them can hemorrhage dollars. They also change the way talent management strategies are implemented.

Here we will go over what travel nurses do, their impact on healthcare delivery, and how talent management strategies need to adapt.


What Does a Travel Nurse Do?

Travel nurses perform the same duties as full-time nurses, but in an interim capacity. This means that for facilities that have a need for temporary staff — due to unexpected patient volume, leaves of absence, etc. — facilities can fill roles on short notice to maintain quality of care and prevent staff burnout.

This allows organizations to meet fluctuating patient needs, find specialized talent on short notice, address skill gaps during equipment/technology upgrades, enhance diversity efforts to improve patient outcomes, and even provides a try-before-you-buy trial period for potential full-time staff.

While utilizing temporary staff has become critical for healthcare organizations of all types and sizes, its ubiquity has thrown a wrench in talent management strategies — how can companies adjust their strategies? What types of tools are needed to facilitate successful management?


Travel Nurses and Talent Management

In the context of talent management, travel nurses are a relatively new concept. And it is important to keep in mind that successful talent management strategies involving temp staff have a lot of moving parts, including but not limited to:

  • Scheduling
  • Certification and qualification tracking
  • Recruiting and onboarding
  • Contract management
  • Legal compliance
  • Time collection
  • Invoicing

This begs a larger question: how can you improve your talent management strategy without breaking the bank?


Managed Service Programs (MSP)

MSPs are your best friend if you are looking for a way to take administrative burdens off of your internal teams and lower overall labor costs, especially if you work with a vendor-neutral one. They handle everything from clinical interviewing/screening and contract management to onboarding, and business intelligence insights. This not only improves your organization’s  talent management initiatives by relying on industry experts to do the heavy lifting, but also frees up internal teams to focus on other organizational imperatives. 

As an added bonus, vendor-neutral MSPs are capable of sourcing competitive talent and rate negotiations by creating a level playing field for vendors. Not locking yourself into a singular vendor relationship broadens your available talent pool and allows you to scale for future growth.


Create Your Own Agency

If your organization is relying heavily on contingent staffing agencies, an Internal Private Label agency may be a wise alternative to traditional staffing methods. This alternative may seem complicated and time consuming to implement, but it is actually far less complex than you may think — and it saves money in the long run. By creating your own private label internal agency, you cut out the middleman in your contingent staff procurement efforts. This allows you to set up talent pipelines directly to your organization, which facilitates long-term growth and success.

Here is a real world example — Augusta University Health Medical Center approached HWL after experiencing severe talent shortages during the pandemic. Like many, they had relied on contingent staff to supplement staffing gaps for years, but once systems were pushed to the brink, they found that high demand and low supply caused market rates to skyrocket. Agency staffing costs were simply not an option. HWL helped them weather the storm and once things settled down post-pandemic, then helped them set up an internal agency so they could hire directly through a co-sourced, private labeled model. 

The branded presence they set up served as a centralized, front-end staffing office. HWL took care of top-of-funnel candidate sourcing and screening, while their internal teams took care of the rest. This arrangement facilitated a 30% spend reduction on contract labor.


Enlist a Vendor Management System (VMS)

VMSs are technology platforms that streamline every aspect of contingent staff recruitment processes. Customize it to your unique needs to get a jumpstart on optimizing your locums management.

  • Data analytics and reporting dashboards: Integrate your current tech into a centralized platform, complete with real-time data on vendor performance, certifications, availability, and wages. This allows you to make more strategic decisions when anticipating staffing needs. It also allows you to pinpoint where overspending may be occurring by comparing actual spend to market rates.
  • Internal resource pool (IRP) technology: Gain access to master and unit-based scheduling capabilities, broadcast open shifts via a mobile app complete with custom filters, track and manage IRP staff documents and credentials, conduct online performance evaluations, and more.
  • Manage contracts: Gain access to lower prices from vendors with broad labor pools and ensure the proper management of all contract types — local or travel, contract or per diem, clinical or non-clinical.


HWL is Your Solution to Optimized Travel Nurse Management

It is imperative that you contain costs wherever you can; and one of the best places to start is in your contingent workforce. HWL's suite of workforce management solutions are easy to use and have proven to be critical for healthcare companies that are becoming more reliant on contingent labor. By automating redundant and tedious processes, we provide transparency into your workforce that can help you lower costs, ensure compliance, and provide standardization and consistency for the management of contingent workers across the entire organization.

To learn more or book a demo, get in touch today!

February 28, 2024/By Tamara Miller
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Author: Tamara Miller

With over 25 years of experience as a registered nurse, Tamara's journey encompasses a rich tapestry of healthcare expertise. Over this time, she has honed her skills in healthcare workforce development, staffing solutions, EHR solutions, career transition strategies, executive recruiting, career coaching, and nurse retention. This journey includes 11 years of hands-on experience in various healthcare settings, granting her a profound understanding of the industry's intricacies. In addition to her healthcare career, Tamara's entrepreneurial spirit shines brightly. As the founder of Aramat Consulting in Indianapolis, she provided invaluable guidance in recruitment and retention strategies. This entrepreneurial experience adds a dynamic dimension to her multifaceted healthcare journey.
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