Strike Nursing

Nursing strikes hit the headlines across the United States regularly. As the healthcare system faces the combined challenges of labor shortages and increased demand due to acute illnesses and an aging population, labor disputes are almost inevitable. But who takes care of patients during those disputes? Strike nursing fills the gap.

What is Strike Nursing?

Strike nursing is one of the most demanding types of temporary nursing. Registered nurses (RN) who become strike nurses take care of patients in hospitals and healthcare systems with ongoing labor disputes. 

Like a travel nurse, strike nurses move from one temporary position to another. However, where travel nursing can be planned and contracts last for a specific amount of time, strike nursing can be last-minute and require unexpected changes of location. If the dispute between the union and the healthcare provider cannot be resolved, strike nurses may have to fill in for an extended period. 

What Should you Expect as a Strike Nurse?

Strike nursing is hectic and demanding, and contracts often start at short notice. At the same time, this type of nursing is generally the most highly compensated type of contract for registered nurses. When strike nurses arrive in a new location, they do not benefit from working with a team that is experienced and has been in place for a while. 

Instead, strike nurses are expected to form their own impromptu teams and ensure that all patient care is maintained at a high level. Strike nurses stand between the hospital being able to provide care continuously or having to shut down. It is hard to overstate their importance, especially during times of persistent labor shortages in the nursing sector. 

Because of the demanding nature of the job, strike nurses generally earn better salaries than other registered nurses. In exchange for that, nurses need to be flexible and available to strike nursing agencies at a moment’s notice. In most cases, the strike nursing agency will deal with travel arrangements and cover all expenses such as flights and accommodation. 

The agency will aim to put a strike nursing team in place either on the night before or on the morning of the strike. If the strike goes ahead, strike nurses will go to work. Should the strike be called off, nurses may find themselves on their way back home within hours. 


Types and Specialties Best Suited for Strike Nursing Jobs

Nursing strikes and other labor disputes can affect entire healthcare systems, meaning there are opportunities for almost every single nursing specialty. Like travel nurses, strike nurses should have a minimum of one year of nursing experience in their specialty to ensure they can truly hit the ground running. 

Sought-after specialties include:

  • Intensive care nursing
  • Emergency room care
  • Surgery

Signing up as a strike nurse with a medical staffing agency can be an exciting step toward a rewarding, varied career for the right individuals. Avoid underestimating the challenges of strike nursing and retain a flexible mindset to get the most out of this nursing career move.