4 ways travel nurses can save your facility money

Travel nurses can be an incredible resource for a facility when there’s an job opening that needs to be filled very quickly or an ongoing issue with staffing shortages. While at first glance the costs can seem high, when you take a closer look, adding travel nurses to your staffing resources through a top travel nursing agency like trustaff is actually a great way to ensure your facility stays on—or even under!—budget.

KPMG, a nationally respected professional service company, did a study that analyzes the cost of hiring a full-time permanent nurse versus hiring a traveler for a short-term contract.

Their most recent study, released in 2017, demonstrates the power of travel nursing when added to your staffing arsenal.

Here are 4 ways traveling nurses are a cost-effective staffing solution for your facility:

Compare the base rates

The traditional pay rate for a permanent nurse versus a traveler doesn’t give you the full story. For example, your permanent nurse might be making $43 an hour. That doesn’t include costs that your facility still has to cover, like insurance, overtime, PTO, orientation, payroll services, and other administrative costs. Those hidden numbers can really add up. If you add them all together, you get an average of $89 an hour.

For a traveling nurse in the same position, the base wage averages around $67 an hour. With payroll costs and other expenses added in, the cost averages out to about $83 an hour. The staffing agency covers many of the “traditional” employee costs, including things like insurance.

Based on the answers provided by the survey respondents, the chart below compares the base rate costs associated with hiring a permanent staff nurse versus hiring a traveling nurse.

Hourly Cost for Permanent vs Traveling Nurses


Base Wages



Payroll Costs



Insurance Costs



Recruiting Costs



Other Costs



Non-productivity Costs








Source: KPMG’s 2017 U.S. Hospital Nursing Labor Costs Study

Control your overtime costs

The study also found that on average, travelers work less overtime. The average staff nurse works about 9 hours of overtime per week. Travelers only worked an average of 7 hours of overtime per week.

Those overtime costs can really drive up your operating costs, whether you’re paying time-and-a-half, on call costs, or even double-time coverage. Having travelers on site can also help decrease the number of overtime hours available by offering an easier way to predictably (and quickly) handle scheduling challenges.

Source: KPMG’s 2017 U.S. Hospital Nursing Labor Costs Study

Stop wasting money on non-productivity time

On average, a permanent nurse uses about 10% of their time for non-productive tasks like education, paid training, or administrative duties that are not directly related to patient care.

25% of respondents said their staff nurses spend about 4-6% of their time on non-productive hours, while another 20% spent an average 10-12%. Travelers do not use such a larger percentage of time because they do not typically participate in training or educational activities while they are under contract.

Manage your orientation and training costs

Based on the survey results, it takes weeks—if not months—to recruit and hire a full-time staff nurse. After they are hired, the nurse will go through about 17 days (or 137 hours) of orientation to become fully entrenched in your facility’s culture. The hospitals also reported that it takes an average of only 15-20 days to hire a traveler for the same position.

Agencies work hard to provide quick, quality candidates to facilities to fill positions as soon as they can. Travel nurses are flexible and often highly experienced, so their orientation time is significantly shorter than a full-time staff nurse. A traveler might spend a few days in orientation, but nowhere near the amount of downtime a permanent staff member, allowing them to hit the floor faster and provide much-needed help to their unit.

Source: KPMG’s 2017 U.S. Hospital Nursing Labor Costs Study

Overall, the cost of hiring a traveling nurse is, in fact, lower than the cost of recruiting and hiring a new permanent staff member.

Regardless of the size, location, or type of facility, travel nurses provide proven, high-quality care to their patients and are a cost-effective part of your staffing arsenal. Travelers can be a saving grace during seasonal increases in patients or during transitions times for your organization’s team.

The KPMG study provides some really unique insight into how travel nursing can impact your organization’s bottom line and lighten the load on your staff. Download your own copy here.

Download now

Ready to see how trustaff can equip your staffing department with the help they need? Speak to an Account Manager today or learn more about our client services.

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