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'3 Years' Salary In About 4 Months': COVID-19 Pandemic Demand For Travel Nurses Sends Salaries Soaring

by Robbie Owens | CBS 11

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - COVID-19's fourth surge has once again led to stiff competition for nurses and that demand allows healthcare workers to command top dollar for their services, especially if they're willing to travel.

"Knowing you're able to help hospitals that are so desperate, and I love meeting new people," says Dallas-based travel nurse Katie Givins.

Givins has fought on COVID-19's front lines from New York to Florida.

"Covid patients are so sick," shares Givins, "and so unstable... it's really hard."

Katie Givins
Katie Givins - travel nurse (credit: Katie Givins)

Initially, Givens did that hard and dangerous job in Dallas, but when she began to feel unappreciated by her former employer, as an experienced nurse, she has other high paying options.

"We brought in so many travel nurses... and we knew they were making good money and so they were telling us, 'you should go do this! you can do this!'," explains Given.

Still, Givens admits to wrestling with the guilt, and the anticipated sacrifice.

"Being away from my family," says the mother of two. "I miss the kids, miss watching my daughter's sports and that part's the hardest."

Ultimately, Givens says she couldn't pass up the opportunity to give her family more financial security.

"I think I got three years' worth of salary in about 4 and half months," shares Givens, "student loans, cars all of that was paid off. I was even paid enough to have the summer off with my kids, since I was gone for so long."

Still, even with the rewards-- financial and otherwise-- of helping as many sick patients as she can, this veteran nurse would like nothing better than to work herself out of a job and see those COVID-19 wards close.

"Nurses are tired," says Givens, "they are so tired. We still care. We want everyone to get the vaccination if they can... it's really helping people. Most people are unvaccinated in the ICU right now."

And Givens would also like to see her hospital-based colleagues get the pay their hard work deserves.

"Yes, travel is great for people who want to see the US," says Givens. "But more people would stay home and stay at their home hospitals if they felt like they were getting paid appropriately."

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