– I was in a position where I loved my profession, but I thought: This is actually not sustainable.
In the middle of a pandemic, Wenche Wiik was a newly qualified nurse. She quickly felt a heavy workload when she came to work. With many tasks, she was exhausted and walked around with a bad conscience all the time.
In the end, she moved to Stockholm with her partner and chose to start in a temp agency. Wiik says that she had heard about temp agencies before, but that it all sounded too good to be true.
– For a long time I thought it was a scam. That it was not possible to work in this way.
Earned DKK 45,000
Wiik has now been a traveling substitute for a year. She has worked in Eastern Norway, Western Norway and in Havøysund in Finnmark. She previously worked with recruitment at the temp agency, now she only works as a temp.
When she was in Northern Norway, she began to share about her life as a traveling temporary worker, or travelnurseon TikTok.
– A traveling nurse is actually a substitute nurse. This means that I take on assignments that are longer or shorter in different parts of Norway to cover an urgent need.
And it’s well paid.
This summer, Wiik earned NOK 45,000 before tax in one week.
Wiik emphasizes that it is not usual to earn so much in one week. The week she earned close to NOK 50,000, she had many extra shifts and a lot of overtime.
– Completely dependent on the substitutes
Union leader of the Norwegian Nurses’ Association, Lill Sverresdatter Larsen, says that she can understand that nurses choose to become traveling substitutes, both in terms of pay and the flexibility they get.
– Norwegian health services have become completely dependent on the temporary workers. We do not have enough nurses in Norway, we lack approximately 7,000 nurses.
For the health services, it costs approximately twice as much to employ a temporary worker via a temporary agency as a permanent employee. Sverresdatter Larsen emphasizes that it is nurses’ market, and that it is not their responsibility to secure the public health services.
– But at the same time, there is a danger if there is a depletion of public health services, because then it means that health services will become more expensive for people in general.
She says that they see a shift towards more private health services and temp agencies.
– We want politicians at local and national level to take action to ensure a salary that corresponds to responsibility and risk load, and not least a management and professional development that makes people want to stay in the public sector.
State Secretary i The Ministry of Health and Care, Ellen Rønning-Arnesen, agrees with Sverresdatter Larsen. The government will therefore draw up a plan for full-time and good staffing in care for the elderly. Work will also be done on models for smaller temporary use.
– We have also recently set up a public committee to look at how commercial operations can be phased out into tax-funded welfare services.
The government must also have appointed a separate health personnel commission.
– It must propose effective measures to educate, recruit and, not least, retain qualified health personnel throughout the country. When it comes to the issue of pay, this is a topic for the parties in working life, says Rønning-Arnesenl
– Can give 100 percent
Substitute nurse Wenche Wiik believes that more will become traveling substitutes in the future. She has already received almost 1,000 inquiries from other nurses as a result of her videos on TikTok.
– They have been inspired and see that there are other solutions for us who love the profession – and who want to continue, but who see that it is not sustainable in the way it is today.
She herself believes that she will not return to the public sector anytime soon. The workload is still the same, but because she now earns better, she can choose when she wants to take longer periods off.
– When I am at work, I have more work capacity. I can take extra shifts and give 100 percent, instead of walking like a zombie, as I did as a permanent employee, says Wiik.