Expanding Your Nursing Team: When’s The Right Time?
Your nurses are the lifeline of your facility and provide all of the essential care and support your patients need. That’s why it’s integral to maintain the right nurse staffing levels for continuity of care and the smooth running of your facility. The question is, how do you know when it’s time to staff up? And what are the signs that you need to look out for in your team?
Reliance On Overtime
It’s no secret that excessive overtime takes a mental and physical toll on employees. While the hours need to be covered, and your nurses may be happy to do so, working too many hours can lead to a rise in depression levels and a dip in productivity, not to mention immune system compromises. Per diem nurses can help cover those additional hours as and when you need them to be, ensuring your current workforce remains happy and healthy. Crucially, rested nurses will deliver the highest quality and safest care possible for your patients.
You should be acutely attuned to the productivity and mood of your nursing team at all times to avoid instances of burnout. Nursing is a demanding field, so taking action at the first signs of stress will help minimize medical errors and retain your core staff. If your nurses appear agitated, emotional, negative, or overly tired, it’s time to look at expanding your team to help manage their workload.
As you know, turnover is costly and means that you lose vital nurses who are familiar with your facility, patient demographics, and case-load. Plus, making frequent hires means added costs, including HR, onboarding, and training, which all need to be repeated regularly. Additionally, high staff turnover can negatively impact HCAHPS scores. If you’re continuously losing nursing staff, there’s likely to be a more significant issue in your organization that needs to be addressed, whether that’s your orientation process, workload, or the benefits provided for your nurses.
Upcoming Staffing Gaps & Fresh Demands
Usually, you’ll have plenty of warning of any impending gaps in your nurse staffing, whether that’s upcoming maternity leave, seasonal fluctuations such as flu season in the northern states or the influx of “snowbirds” to warmer states in the winter months.
Additionally, if your facility is opening a new wing or is scheduled to complete a system conversion, you should have a project timeline stating commencement and target completion dates. To ensure a healthy nurse-to-patient ratio, staff planning is essential at the earliest opportunity to avoid the implications of staff being pulled away from day-to-day operations.
What’s The Solution?
Travel nurses can be the ideal option if you need immediate staffing assistance. Typically, travel nurse contracts range between 8 and 26 weeks, though the most common contracts last 13 weeks. What’s more, travel nurses are usually highly experienced and require minimal orientation, sometimes just 24-40 hours, compared to a minimum of 4 to 14 weeks for permanent staff.
However, hiring nurses on shorter contracts can be more expensive and fail to offer patients continuity of care. It’s for these reasons that some facilities are exploring alternative options, including the recruitment of overseas nurses. Specialized staffing partners, like Conexus, recruit nurses from international markets, which opens up an otherwise inaccessible talent pool. These nurses have a reputation for making an immediate impact through increasing patient satisfaction and lowering costs through the mitigation of staff turnover and a reduction in reliance on temporary contracts.
Both international nurses and travel nurses bring a plethora of benefits for US healthcare facilities, which is why an increasing number are starting to embrace a blended approach to staffing, to ensure they’re always staffing to appropriate demand and peaks.
Could A Blended Approach Work In Your Facility?
Find out more about international nurses and other staffing alternatives in our free guide - 'Alternatives to the traditional 13-week assignment'.
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