Travel nurses are an expensive bandage for a sick health care system

Travel nurses make headlines today in Maine because without them many of our hospitals and nursing homes would fail to care for us. But we must ask: Why does our health care system rely on them?

Travel nurses are not the problem. Nurses have traveled for a long time. They have wanted to see the world, teach others their skills and bring their knowledge and compassion to bear in places with need.

COVID is one problem, but the need for nurses is a symptom of a more troubling illness. For the last 20 to 30 years, our health care system has increasingly organized itself around making money. It is now like a garden overrun with noxious weeds choking nurses and others on the front lines who actually care for patients. Our health care system has misallocated our health care resources. It has left our communities vulnerable to the pandemic.

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