Today’s hospital and medical facility environment isn’t exactly stable when it comes to staffing concerns. The immediate shortage of available nursing staff impacts so many areas. Both hospital administrators and nurses feel the stress of the shortage of qualified nurses to provide patient care. And the need for nurses is only going to become more dire in the coming years.
The U.S. has been dealing with a nursing shortage for the past few decades. As the population of older citizens grows larger-and more dependent on medical care, with each passing year, this shortage becomes dire. Much like the patient population they serve, experienced nurses are approaching retirement and leaving their careers behind. When you do the math the nursing shortage is cause for alarm.
Before staffing concerns of both nurses and hospitals are remedied, it’s necessary to realize what staffing concerns are plaguing both groups. While the solution to the problem of a national shortage of nurses isn’t going to be found overnight, understanding where to begin is an essential first step toward resolution. Below are staffing concerns of both nurses and the hospitals they serve.
Staffing Concerns for Nurses
Scheduling seems to be the number one concern for nurses. Many hospitals leave the task of scheduling up to the nurse manager. It can be a difficult task especially when trying to work around personal time off, leave, or vacations. Inevitably there will be emergency absences and an uptick in patient numbers. This can result in understaffing or having to chase down nurses to cover. Scheduling tools such as Shiftboard can help alleviate a good number of staffing concerns and headaches associated with scheduling.
Patient Care is a huge concern for nurses (and hospitals alike-but more about that later). When there are staffing concerns the most obvious sector of medical care, the patients, are going to suffer. An inadequate number of nurses and the resulting nurse fatigue can lad to a reduction in the quality of care a patient receives. Exhausted staff, due to not having enough coverage, can be a risky situation for all concerned.
Under Staffing, as mentioned above, can lead to all kinds of problems. Beginning with the quality of care a patient receives as well as it’s impact on the individual nurses. Understaffing can lead to burnout which can cause many nurses to consider a career change, or change of employer.
Patient Demand is, or should be, the driving force behind adequate staffing. Unfortunately hospitals do concern themselves with the bottom line and this can lead to not anticipating a rise in the number of patients during, say, flu season. There are predictive analytics available that can help avoid understaffing.
Staffing Concerns for Hospitals
Patient Satisfaction is directly related to the success or failure of a hospital and staffing concerns can influence patient satisfaction. Nurses are the primary care providers in the hospital setting so much of the patient’s experience depends on that care. When there isn’t enough staff to provide excellent care the patient won’t be satisfied and may even be put at risk.
Which brings us to Patient Errors, another grave result of staffing concerns that go unaddressed. Pneumonia, infections, pressure ulcers, injurious falls, adverse drug-related reactions, and sepsis can be quite costly to the hospital. An increase in nursing staff can help hospitals (and patients) avoid these adverse outcomes.
Ineffective Patient Flow can result in long wait times as well as dissatisfied patients. When there are enough nurses to see and assess patients the turn rate improves, as does patient satisfaction. Nurses can help with admitting patients, getting them transferred to other departments, and assessing them for discharge. Patient flow is a growing staffing concern for many hospitals.
High Cost of Staff Turnover to hospitals and medical facilities is another of the top staffing concerns for administrators. Staff turnover not only results in cost to the facility but also places a burden on those nurses who must cover while recruiters find replacements. Onboarding and orientation can greatly impact the hospitals bottom line. It’s significantly important for hospitals to address high turnover rates and stem the flow of nurses by addressing their concerns and working to retain quality staff.
Changes in Patient Population is an obvious concern for hospitals. When hospitals experience an increase in the patient population it’s typically temporary. Census numbers can climb quickly, however, and patient care is top priority. Temporary nursing staff can address immediate needs when census numbers go up.
Partnering With Staffing Agency Provides Solutions
Although there’s no end in sight to the nursing shortage, more individuals seem to be answering the call. Staffing concerns can be alleviated, or tempered, when there exists and adequate number of nurses to provide quality patient care. Nursing schools must recruit students more effectively for the future of patient care.
Of course, immediate staffing concerns need to be addressed now. Partnering with a medical staffing agency is a proven remedy for nursing shortages in many hospitals around the country. Traveling nurses, ad locum nursing staff, home health care, and temporary staffing are all valid solutions to the immediate staffing concerns of nurses and hospitals.