Collaborative Staffing Under the Spotlight


Collaborative staffing is a solution to many of the stressors facing nurse managers and those who draw up patient care staff schedules on a regular basis. This type of staffing solution helps everyone. The facility benefits cost-wise, employees benefit by being able to choose their schedules according to their needs, the hassles of trying to cover shifts is no longer an issue for the nurse manager, and, most of all, the patients benefit from quality care.

Ask any nurse manager and he or she will tell you the biggest challenge of the job comes from scheduling shifts and managing staff schedules. Covering staffing shortfalls, patient census numbers, and providing quality care often conflicts with employee time off, sick days and vacation requests. There is a burden in staffing a health care facility and it can weigh heavily on those who are in charge.

How Collaborative Staffing Works

Collaborative staffing offers a way for the staff to meet the demands of patient coverage, while meeting their personal obligations and allowing for necessary time off. In other words, collaborative staffing allows the staff to choose the schedule that works best for them, without affecting patient care, or costing the facility in overtime hours or unnecessary staff. The organizational benefits to the facility are great.
This method of staffing healthcare facilities with qualified nursing caregivers allows nurses and nurse managers to work together to ensure shifts are appropriately covered. Nurses view and fill the open and available shifts across multiple units (and even facilities, in some cases) for which they are qualified. In the many hospitals and clinics where collaborative staffing is a practice, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

In addition to alleviating the hassle of scheduling, and ensuring shifts are covered in order to provide the best patient care, there are numerous benefits to all involved. Here are 4 key benefits to collaborative staffing:

Staff Satisfaction: Empowering staff to create their own schedules brings greater job satisfaction and fewer scheduling complaints from employees. The collaborative approach allows nursing staff to select the hours they want and plan accordingly. It gives control over patient care hours to those who will be directly involved, which is also a big benefit to the patients.

Staff Development: By allowing nursing staff to branch out across hospital and care facility units, they can develop skills which make for more valuable employees. If a member of your nursing staff is beginning to feel stale or dissatisfaction in the environment in which he or she regularly works, collaborative staffing allows that nurse to test the waters elsewhere within the facility. Additionally, a staff member could choose to work in several different units and specialties, and bring those skills back to the benefit of the home unit.

Cost Control: The model of collaborative staffing not only lessens the need for overtime hours, which can become risky to the patients for whom care is provided, but also allows those in charge to get a better handle on the needs of the facility. Should there arise a need for nurses in med-surge, that need can be met by utilizing staff currently available from another facility or unit, who has experience in the med-surge field, for example.

Staff Optimization: Again, being able to self-schedule provides the nursing staff with so many opportunities to better themselves and the facility. Being able to optimize placement of staff according to skills benefits all involved. This creates a happier, more eagerly involved nursing staff, a more engaged administrative staff, and provides a better patient experience.

Collaborative Staffing is The Way of the Future

This friendly approach to staffing and the many benefits provided for all involved is the new way to schedule patient care. As a “self-serve” approach to scheduling collaborative staffing provides an atmosphere of empowerment that shows positive results in the bottom line. A win-win for all.


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