Healthcare Staffing Companies Poised For Growth Amid Nursing Shortage

The United States is currently facing a healthcare staffing crisis, based primarily in a shortage of nurses. There is a growing need for nurses, especially travel nurses, and the problem is anticipated to become more acute in the next year. Since 2006, patients have won significant settlements from hospitals for negligence due to nursing shortage, and as the cost of hiring too few nurses comes to outweigh the cost of adequately employing, healthcare staffing companies should have definite growth.

People who feared that healthcare staffing would slow in today’s shaky economy and sold their shares in such companies now regret the decision, as these businesses have jumped in value. Shares of several companies providing travel nurses and temporary physicians initially fell due to fear in our current recession, but have since rebounded sharply.

According to BMO Capital Markets analyst Jeffrey Silber, “an aging population and advances in medical technology should drive demand, while supply may be constrained as caregivers age with few replacements coming through the pipeline. This should bode well for healthcare staffing supplier stocks.”

Silber estimated a travel-nurse staffing revenue of $2.5 billion annually, which is 21 percent of total healthcare staffing revenue. The growth forecast for travel nurses is set particularly slow as tough times push people towards stable jobs at home. He also pointed out that growth in the travel-nursing segment is estimated at 3.5 percent in 2009, compared with 8 percent in 2006.

This has not, however, affected many healthcare staffing companies. For hospitals to even maintain current (depleted) numbers of nurses, they must continue to hire new nurses on a regular basis. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median age of registered nurses (RNs) was 45 years in 2007. Also, another study reported that a third of all current nurses plan to leave their job within the next year.

Furthermore, staffing companies specializing in travel nurses are expected to continue to do well financially because of the nature of the job of travel nurse. These healthcare workers are employed by hospitals from around one to four months, so staffing companies increase their profit margins because of the rise in billed rates.