We are far out from 2020 when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the United States. Since that time, vaccines have been distributed widely across the country. While we continue to feel the impact of the virus, as a society we are learning to live with it as part of our “new normal.” Employers are navigating this transition in nearly every industry, but especially in healthcare, with nurse hiring a priority at nearly every organization.
“During the height of the pandemic, on one hand, there was a great demand for frontline workers who could treat COVID-19 patients,” said Amanda Cruse, a Senior Managing Director at Tandym Health. “On the other, non-critical care hiring virtually came to a halt. Now that we’ve come out on the other side with the vaccines, we’re seeing these nurse hiring trends in reverse. As return to some semblance of ‘normalcy,” organizations need to fill the roles left open due to the pandemic.”
In other words, now is an excellent time to land a new nursing job—especially if you have experience related to COVID-19. “If you have only been focused on treating COVID-19 patients, doing testing and tracing, or administering vaccinations, now is the right time to get back into the job market and find your next career opportunity,” advises Amanda. “Nursing candidates can leverage this experience in order to stand out. For nurses who have only worked in a COVID-19 setting, the current job market presents you with new opportunities to try different areas and gain more nursing experience. It’s a great time to be open to new nursing career paths!”
To help you navigate today’s healthcare job market, here are four nurse hiring trends to keep in mind:
It’s a candidate-driven market
Nursing shortages have been an ongoing issue, but nurse hiring has only gotten more challenging in recent years. “The number of nurses leaving the profession has increased due to the pandemic,” says Amanda. “In addition, the growing number of people needing care has increased. Because demand is so high, the nurse job market has become more candidate-driven.”
Opportunities are diverse
There is constant pressure to fill vacant nurse positions across all settings and specialties, including hospitals, schools, and outpatient care facilities. “If you are in the market for a new job, you really have your pick,” says Amanda. “In addition, seasonal or project-based opportunities are a great way to try out and gain some experience with a new population or setting, or even pick up some extra work. In the fall, for example, school nursing and flu immunization opportunities are in surplus.”
Employers are more flexible with requirements
If you have ever searched for a new nurse job, you know that many positions require several years of experience. If you are less experienced, you may have wondered how to gain this experience. The good news? The candidate-driven market may have opened up some reach opportunities for you. “To address on-going hiring needs and high caseloads, more nurses will be needed,” says Amanda. “With the current nursing shortage, facilities have had to be more flexible with requirements and open to transferable skills. As a result, if you have any experience associated with COVID-19, you should highlight them on your resume if you are applying to any reach opportunities.”
Pay rates are stabilizing
During the height of the pandemic, you may have become accustomed to higher-than-average pay. While this was certainly deserved, you can expect to see more standard pay rates and salaries as you explore opportunities in a post-pandemic world. In this “new” normal, compensation is still higher than it was pre-pandemic—however, crisis pay is ending across all healthcare sectors and specialties.