Modest Use of Temporary Nurses Could Save Hospitals Money

At BOS Medical, we regularly advise our clients that temporary nurses can be a great way to supplement full-time staff.  From maternity leave to an influx of patients, there are numerous reasons hospitals may need to staff up or down.  Having the adequate amount of staff on shift is essential for providing top quality patient care.

Some hospitals are reluctant to hire temporary nurses since they’ve long contested that temporary RNs are more expensive than permanent employees.  However, a recent study published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality, facilitated by University of Rochester’s School of Nursing, concluded that modest use of temporary nurses actually leads to cost savings and efficiencies for hospitals.

The study is unique in that’s it’s the first longitudinal analysis comparing the cost efficiency of temporary staff versus permanent staff.  It examines the effect different levels of use of temporary nurse staff had on total nursing personnel cost per patient day over a 3.5-year period.

While the study found that hospitals will pay more in the immediate time frame for temporary and travel nurses, those costs will more than be made up by the increase in available service during peak times.   However, use of supplemental nurse staff that exceeded more than 5.6 percent of total RN hours per unit per quarter increased total nursing personnel cost per patient day.  Therefore, the study suggest that strategic use of temporary nursing can make hospitals more cost efficient and flexible, but they should be wary of over-utilizing supplemental staff.

The findings also suggest an opportunity for increased partnership between hospitals and staffing firms, as it noted some of the best cases for supplemental staff were situations which could alleviate the pain points that healthcare systems often face including: increased patient acuity, patient census fluctuations, and temporary leave of permanent RNs.

To err on the side of caution, the study recommends hiring an RN temporarily for less than three months. If supplemental nurses are kept on staff for a long period of time, it is more cost effective to hire a nurse permanently or eliminate the position.

Looking for supplementary healthcare professionals with experience, credentials and a commitment to extraordinary patient care?  Let the experienced recruiters at BOS Medical Staffing help.  Since 2008, BOS Medical has brought talented nurses, therapists and medical administrators together with top facilities. Our nursing and healthcare staffing recruiters go above and beyond to match the right candidate to the right job. Contact BOS Medical today.

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