In 1980 a nurse traveler could expect to earn up to $11.00 per hour.  Nurses generally stayed in hospital provided housing.


The 1970's ushered in a persistent nursing shortage that created the foundation for the travel nurse industry. The ready ability to find jobs in a shortage allowed nurses from the northern states to winter in Florida, finding work at hospitals whose census could double in the wintertime. The census increase came from a seasonal influx of so-called Snowbirds, who also wanted to get away from harsh northern winters.

These work arrangements for nurses in Florida were informal and there were no contracts, nor was housing provided. Basically these nurses were regular permanent employees but everyone understood that they would leave (quit) when the season was over. This worked well for the Florida hospitals involved who could not really afford to hire year round employees for seasonal needs.

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