Voices of Care: Understanding Our Nation’s Caregivers


By Jennifer Melham

The healthcare landscape is constantly evolving, with clinicians facing decisions about their career paths and hospital leaders strategizing the best way to manage their workforces. In our recent Voices of Care survey, we delved into the motivations behind the choices RNs make for their careers, comparing their mindsets regarding travel, permanent, and PRN roles.

Salary is at the forefront of most clinicians’ minds but not the sole consideration. Understanding these results is vital for healthcare leaders, as it gives them the ability to tailor their workforce solutions and foster a more stable workforce.

Why Nurses Travel or Plan to Travel

Our survey shows that in both 2022 and 2023, when asked why they chose travel nursing versus a permanent or per diem (PRN) position, 97% of respondents cited better salary as the most significant factor in their decision. Other important reasons included reduced involvement in workplace politics and more flexible scheduling.

When considering recruitment and retention strategies, this is vital information for healthcare leaders since understanding what matters most to their clinicians can help them attract and keep skilled nurses on board, reducing turnover and helping to create a stable workforce, which is key in helping hospital systems control costs.

While a smaller sample size, it’s also worth noting that 19% of our permanent nurse participants and 14% of the per diem/PRN respondents said they plan to transition to a traveling nurse role this year, again citing the increase in salary as their primary reason.

Why Other Nurses Choose Perm or PRN

Of course, a higher salary is not the only consideration nurses make when choosing how to work. We also asked nurses working in permanent or PRN roles at the time of the survey why they chose this type of work. For perm nurses, the leading reasons were consistent income, spending time with family, and residing at home. For PRN nurses, the reasons were flexibility to work more or less, freedom to choose shifts, and avoiding burnout and stress.

In addition to informing your recruitment strategies and controlling costs, understanding this information helps healthcare leaders better manage their workforce and gives them a competitive advantage to create a work environment that meets the needs of their nursing staff, leading to higher job satisfaction, improved patient care, and ultimately improved retention.

Focusing on Nurses’ Mental Health

No matter what nursing career type our respondents worked, the main reasons prompting them to consider leaving were the pursuit of better salary and benefits and job-related mental health issues, stress, or burnout. 40% of our respondents cited the latter!

The Medical Solutions team prioritizes a people-first approach, putting our clinicians first and offering them benefits such as our EAP, clinical support, and other helpful resources. It’s also essential, however, that healthcare facilities take care of their nurses at the frontline and provide them with the resources and empowerment to advocate for their own mental health, such as through Code Lavender, a program for clinicians and other hospital staff who are facing a serious, in-hospital trauma or crisis.

How to Retain Your Nurses

When looking at the varied career categories—travel nurses, permanent, and PRN—there was little difference in the survey results to indicate how best to retain these clinicians. The primary reasons were, again, salary increases (83%) and hiring additional staff to alleviate workforce pressures (47%).

Your clinicians’ needs will always vary, however, it’s crucial to take advantage of data like this to make educated decisions regarding your staffing strategies.

This is a recap of our Voices of Care: Understanding Our Nations Caregivers report of over 1,700 nurses nationwide. This survey was independently run by Medical Solutions to illustrate the attitudes and priorities of these RNs. To learn more, click here to download the full report.

Jennifer Melham is a Content Specialist for Medical Solutions