President Joe Biden announced a new nationwide COVID-19 vaccination goal around late March: 200 million shots being given within his first 100 days in office. This is after his earlier goal of 100 million vaccinations was met on the 59th day of his administration. April 28th is when Biden hits his 100th day in office–experts believe that if the country continues the vaccination rate, the US will reach the 200 million goals a week before Biden’s self-imposed deadline.
Keeping Up With the Vaccines
As the vaccines continue to be rolled out, more and more people become eligible to get vaccinated. Of course, this brings a whole new set of difficulties, challenges, and setbacks for vaccines.
Pfizer Making Progress
From the different vaccines in the US, Pfizer seems to be making some progress. As of April 13, 2021, there were 99.45 million Pfizer vaccines administered worldwide. They are also on the verge of being approved by the FDA to authorize their vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds. In the meantime, their vaccine remains under emergency use authorization for people 16 and older.
Johnson & Johnson’s Setback
A bit far behind is Johson & Johnson’s vaccine, with less than 8 million doses administered. To slow things down even more, they’ve paused vaccinations in all clinical trials over blood clot concerns out of an abundance of caution in the US. The company is also delaying the rollout of the vaccine in Europe.
Moderna Stays Stable
It pays to be first; the Moderna vaccine has delivered 85.4 million doses so far. Since they have had more time and resources for testing, they say their vaccine is more than 90% effective for at least six months. Pregnant and postpartum women are also encouraged to receive Moderna vaccines, expanding the vaccine’s reach.
The Latest On the Coronavirus
Though the country seems to be getting the hang of the pandemic, new strains of the virus, the vaccine rollouts, and lockdowns coming to an end are destabilizing everything.
The United States has reported an 8% increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the past few weeks. Michigan reported the highest number of cases per capita, with almost 39% of new cases involving the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant of the virus first identified in the United Kingdom.
Overall, deaths from COVID-19 seem to be going down by 7% in the past weeks. Except for Oklahoma, which reported 1,716 new deaths between August and February and had gone unreported. Including the backlog, deaths rose by 21 percent.
While countries like Turkey and the Netherlands are enforcing partial lockdowns and extending their lockdowns, the US is dropping more and more restrictions every week. The latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows fully vaccinated travelers to travel safely, without getting tested or self-quarantining.
However, in most states, businesses are mostly open, except for California, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, which have mixed restrictions allowing certain businesses to open to the public. Only 38% of the states remain with mandatory restrictions on masks, and 92% of states have no restrictions on stay-at-home orders. The only states with advisories to stay home are California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.
Some people, including experts, attribute the cooldown of restrictions to the surge in new cases. Variants account for about 78% of recent Coronavirus cases in New York City. About 30% of cases were identified as the variant from the UK, and another 42% were genetically sequenced samples of the variant first discovered in New York City.
Thankfully, the latest studies on the UK variant found that the virus is more transmissible but not as severe. Still, separate findings state that the variant might be tied to a higher risk of dying from the virus. Of course, it’s still too soon to fully understand these new variants as there aren’t enough cases yet to come up with a final statement.
How to Get the Vaccine
As of early March, over half (52%) of frontline healthcare workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving 48% who have not. It’s important to point out that about 15% of US healthcare workers, primarily those working with smaller institutions, refuse to take the vaccine. Nonetheless, for travel nurses, getting the vaccine can make moving from city to city more accessible, and here’s how to get one:
- Find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you: use vaccinefinder.org to find providers near you. Another option is to check local pharmacy websites or find pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
- Schedule a vaccination appointment: most providers use their scheduling systems.
We’re excited to introduce our Nurse of the Month, Laura! Laura is a PACU nurse that just began her travel journey. We chatted with her while she is absolutely shining in her first placement in Raleigh, North Carolina. Learn more about our Nurse of the Month:
What has it been like working during the pandemic?
It was a hard year with a lot of changes in healthcare and the world. My decision to do traveling nursing just made sense. The pandemic was the catalyst I needed to make some serious changes in my life.
What placements have you had in the past?
I chose a hospital in Raleigh, NC bc it all fell into place. I saw an opportunity to be in a new part of the country and I was excited for the experience.
All-time favorite placement?
Raleigh was the first of what I hope will be many others.
What is your career history, how did you become a travel nurse?
I have been a nurse for 26 years. I worked in the ER for 7 of those years and then got a job in PACU where I have been for over 15 years.
What inspired you to become a travel nurse?
The pandemic made me want to see what the rest of the world was like. I figured there was no time like the present to do something I have always wanted to do and not to put off what I could do now until later.
What is your nursing specialty?
PACU is where I love to be and working there just came naturally to me. It was a good fit.
Favorite hobbies outside of work?
I love to bake and cook. I stay active by going to Zumba classes and training to run races.
Best travel nursing story?
It’s no secret traveling nurses aren’t always welcomed in the unit they choose. But the PACU at the hospital in Raleigh made me feel like I was part of the team from the start, and that meant the world to me.
What’s your favorite part of working with Stability?
All expectations were communicated and if I had any questions or concerns, I felt comfortable asking and Stability helped any way they could.
What is something you bring with you (non-nursing related) to every move/placement?
I am easy going and I adapt to new situations quickly. As a traveler that is important.
Any advice for future travelers?
If you aren’t sure you want to do it, don’t be afraid. If the pandemic taught me anything, it is that life is too short to put things off until later. The money is great, but the opportunity to see and do new things and meet new people, is what it was really about for me. My assignment surpassed all of my expectations and then some.
Doing your taxes often seems daunting, especially if you have a new career, like being a travel nurse. However, there are plenty of online resources to help prepare you for completing your taxes promptly and correctly. Here’s the scoop on what travel nurses need to know regarding taxes:
Filing taxes for travel nurses is a different process. Travel nurses have a different income breakdown than other staff members.
You can’t expect to fill out your taxes like say, a staff nurse at a hospital. This is largely due to a difference in income breakdown. Staff nurses typically have a salary that can be taxed specifically. Travel nurses have hourly pay in addition to stipends that are nontaxable. The combination of the two is your total income. These stipends can cover a variety of things – housing, food (you typically get a set weekly stipend for meals and groceries), and miscellaneous expenses related to work. They are nontaxable because they are required for you to successfully work your job as a travel nurse, thus not counting as part of your taxable income.
To get the most bang for your buck, it’s in your best interest (and the travel nurse agency, like Stability Healthcare) to keep your hourly rate on the modest side, but have more nontaxable stipends. However, don’t have an hourly rate that is too low. This can affect you later on in the future if you apply for loans, collect Social Security payments, etc. For example, the less you make via your hourly wage, the less Social Security funds you’ll be able to collect later on, since nontaxable stipends aren’t included in this number.
There are a few different places you can see examples of income breakdowns like travelnursing.org, Blue Pipes, NurseFly, etc. However, this will not be your exact breakdown. It depends on your position and contract.
You have to have a tax home in order to receive nontaxable income.
According to Turbotax, “the IRS defines your tax home as the ‘entire city or general area’ of your workplace.” If you work in a different state or city you primarily reside in, the location of your workplace would be your tax home. For example, if you live in Chicago, IL but your travel nurse position is in Nashville, TN then Nashville would qualify as your tax home. As the IRS states, “travel expenses are the ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job. You can’t deduct expenses that are lavish or extravagant, or that are for personal purposes.”
You have to prove to the IRS that you have a tax home. In order to do this, you must visit your primary residence at least once every twelve months and pay for the expenses required to maintain this home. If you work somewhere longer than a year, then it’s considered indefinite, and would not prove you have a tax home.
If you fail to prove that you have a tax home, then those nontaxable stipends aforementioned will be taxed.
There are some specific ways to help you prove you have a tax home.
- Keep a record of all the expenses you have to maintain your primary living residence. This can be tracking mortgage payments, saving bills for utilities like the electric bill, paying rent, etc.
- Rep your home state. Be registered to vote in your primary living area, register your car there, and don’t get a new driver’s license in a different state.
- Don’t forget, you must visit your primary residence at least once every 12 months. Keep a record of this visit through photos, flight records, etc. An easy way to do this is by making an effort to return to your primary residence after every assignment.
Don’t forget about state taxes.
Being a travel nurse complicates state taxing a bit, but don’t fret! Remember to file before the typical state tax deadline of April 15th (although you may want to prepare plenty in advance). In addition to your tax home’s state, you also have to pay nonresident taxes for every state you worked in during that tax year. Some travel nurses can work in several states within a tax year.
How to avoid an audit.
Record everything! Although it may seem easy to have digital receipts, it’s also good, and encouraged, to keep physical copies. Every receipt related to a stipend is necessary. Keep a special folder to keep track of physical receipts and to write down the mileage. If you have digital receipts, create an organized folder in a special drive like Google Drive or Dropbox. Keep all your assignment contracts in one place.
The most important thing: take care of yourself and keep the future in mind.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to take care of yourself and have savings in case any future issues arise. Many travel agencies do not get paid time off. If you have to take time off of work, you will not get paid, so don’t rely on just living stipends. Have a backup plan.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask! Your travel nurse agency is there to answer any general questions you may have. If you have tax specific questions (like about a specific state’s taxing), reach out to an account that is experienced in working with travel nurses. They’ll be able to give you pointers and aid you in the tax filing process.
All in all, although filling out taxes as a travel nurse is different than other medical careers, it’s easy if you know what you’re doing. Give yourself plenty of time to prep in order to put yourself in the best position moving forward.Read More
This may come as a surprise, but one of the best ways to get a look into the life of a travel nurse is to, well, go on Tik Tok! Tik Tok gives a platform to anyone to create any kind of content, and there are plenty of travel nurses that make videos about their experiences. Here are a few of our favorites:
If you’re interested in becoming a travel nurse but don’t really know where to start, @sibsrn is your kind of Tik Toker! She makes videos that are direct and to the point – like the benefits of applying to jobs you think you may not be right for, how to handle a long-distance relationship while being a travel nurse, and skincare basics for a nurse. She makes videos for things you wouldn’t even think of right off the bat, but as soon as you watch them, you’re glad you did! Every so often she gives updates on where her position is, how she’s liking it, and where she’s going next.
@byernestion is one of the most well-followed travel nurses on Tik Tok. He’s a strong advocate for Black rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and for being yourself! He’s one of Tik Tok’s travel nurses that posts most regularly, so you can always have new content to see. He is also very blunt when he answers commenters’ questions, so you get an honest viewpoint on his feelings pertaining to being a travel nurse.
Courtney Maree (@laughingbabe) shows the adventure-filled lifestyle that travel nurses can live and shares all of her tips and tricks so you can do the same. Her content is the perfect mix of relatable, educational, funny, and also serious. Her positive energy and content creates a welcoming and supportive place for nurses of all levels to enjoy.
Most of @courtneyzanee25’s Tik Toks delve into the benefits of being a travel nurse, but with a humorous twist! You can watch her pick out which scrub cap she’s going to wear for her shift, see her use memes to illustrate the monetary benefits of being a travel nurse and learn about some of the activities she does where she’s stationed. She injects plenty of her personality in each Tik Tok, making the content more relatable, even for those who aren’t nurses! It’s a good mix of classic Tik Tok dances and funny, informational videos. The comment sections are great to read because they’re often filled with input from other travel nurses or people who are interested in becoming a travel nurse.
@reesesRN is a travel ICU nurse. Her Tik Toks chronicle why she wanted to be a travel nurse, how she became one, and what she typically does on her shifts. Her content is very relevant and mirrors today’s social issues. Some videos help expel myths about the COVID vaccine, some advocate for human rights, and some are more lighthearted, like giving insights into what different parts of a hospital smell like. She also often answers questions about travel nursing that other users comment on. All of her videos are informative and important and are up to date with modern medical and social issues.
@charley1969 is an ICU travel nurse. There are plenty of great, humorous Tik Tokers, and although @charley1969 is funny, they also have more serious videos thrown in that deal with the hard, emotional sides of being a travel nurse. They provide a realistic side of being a travel nurse that many don’t often see. However, despite the somber tones of some of their Tik Toks, @charley1969 often still offers a positive, encouraging outlook that sheds light on how important travel nurses are.
@travelnursetiktokaf uses Tik Tok as a platform to help staff nurses transition to travel nurses. With a plethora of information on travel nursing out there, it is awesome to see the ins and outs of travel nursing from a travel nurse. This account gives a look at the money side of things and how to navigate the profession, but also shines a light on the experiences, the people, and the fun parts of travel nursing. Her videos have you thinking, “who wouldn’t want to be a travel nurse?”
@mackyoustoopd is another great example of a Tik Toker who creates hilarious bits that not only give you a good laugh but give you first-person thoughts on being a travel CNA! Although most of his content is pretty specific to being a travel CNA, they’re still funny overall and are certainly appealing to anyone who already works in a medical field. Since he posts so many videos on a regular basis, his content spans from the typical occurrences of a night shift to what it’s like working with patients (in his case, specifically for patients in the Psych ward).