December 10, 2018 - Unsafe Staffing: Big Win for the Right to Speak Up
Karen-Jo Young, an employee of the Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, was concerned about nurse staffing levels and employee dissatisfaction at the hospital. She wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper which was published in the newspaper. She was immediately fired by the hospital for violating their media policy. Karen-Jo then filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The Judge in the case ruled in favor of Karen-Jo, finding that, because her letter to the editor complaining about staffing levels constituted protected concerted activity, the hospital had improperly discharged her in violation of Section 7 of the NRLA. The Judge ordered the hospital to fully and immediately reinstate Karen-Jo Young and “make her whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits.”
September 13, 2018 - Expanded program for Allied travelers at TravCon 2018
TravCon 2018 was another huge success. Over 1,000 healthcare travelers attended the conference. There was an expanded pre and post-conference schedule with a great CEN Review, a Medical Spanish Intensive session, along with our always-popular Newbie BootCamp on Sunday before the main conference (held Monday and Tuesday), plus another Medical Spanish Intensive class and the new TravCon Brunch on Wednesday. The brunch was very well attended and gave all attendees a chance to unwind, socialize, and enjoy a delicious brunch buffet before flying back home (or back to their assignments). Many attendees are now making a week of the conference, arriving on Saturday and leaving on Wednesday so they can enjoy the pre and post-conference sessions and participate in the many social activities surrounding the main conference.
PanTravelers mission is to support all healthcare travelers, including our allied colleagues. This is true for TravCon as well, which the association co-sponsors. For 2018, TravCon made a concerted effort to be more inclusive of Allied travelers, offering CEUs specific for most allied specialties. This was very successful and TravCon plans to expand this initiative for 2019. A special subcommittee has been formed to focus on this effort.
2018 Q3 Update.
As we approach the end of the year, we can report that the year has been, on the whole, a good one. The year started badly, with a marked decline in job orders throughout the first quarter. Travelers were scrambling to find jobs, and agencies were nervous. We noted that early registrations for exhibitors at TravCon were slow. In May, when attendee registration opened, we noted that this was also slower than usual. With the uncertainty surrounding potential healthcare legislation and the unrelenting threat of repealing the ACA, hospitals were being cautious and we were all a little worried. We were all wondering "Is this the beginning of another recession?"
But by June, job orders had recovered and Q2 growth was in line with projections. Exhibitor and attendee registrations were back to normal. Now, as we approach the end of the year, agencies are reporting more job orders than they can fill. Many of the exhibitor spots for TravCon 2019 have already been reserved. Of course, agencies don't have a crystal ball, but strong early conference registration is an indicator of agency confidence in the coming year.
2018 - Here we go!
What will the coming year mean for travelers? The implications of the new Tax Reform bill are not fully known, but we can assure travelers that there’s no need to panic. PanTravelers COO David Whitesell, RN has provided a tax reform update summarizing what we know to date.
How about job orders and compensation? Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) conducts well regarded proprietary research examining trends in temporary staffing, independent contracting and other types of contingent labor. The Healthcare Staffing Summit is their annual conference that focuses on our segment of the workforce. We attended, and here’s some of what we learned:
SIA has projected that growth in U.S healthcare temporary staffing revenue will continue to increase throughout 2018 but at a slower rate. 2017 showed a very strong 17% growth, whereas 2018 is projected to deliver a still strong 8% growth.
Bill rates have shown steady if modest growth since 2012 and this trend is projected to continue in 2018. The last comprehensive bill rate survey was conducted by SIA in 2016. In that survey, the aggregate U.S. travel nurse bill rate was $73.88 per hour, with the average compensation (including wages, bonuses, payroll taxes, and all reimbursements) coming in at just over $50 per hour. The average gross profit margin for agencies is 25%. Compensation varies widely depending on the region, specialty and season, but this is a big improvement from just a few years ago.
Although SIA’s projections look generally good for travelers over the next two years, there are some unknowns that could affect both demand and compensation for travelers. These include potential cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, destabilization of Healthcare Exchanges, and even a possible recession.