Long before the pandemic began, a shift started occurring in healthcare; an evolution of the nursing profession that introduced new opportunities to licensed staff, deviating from traditional patient care.
While these innovative roles are enticing and serve to strengthen hospital operations by expanding skill sets and meeting previously unaddressed needs, these positions are creating further strain on care delivery. Staff shortages were already plaguing the industry and now nursing advancement is another element that organizations must navigate.
So where have all the nurses gone?
Nurses are currently being drawn to positions in areas such as Clinical Informatics, Case Management, Education, and CDI where they can use their knowledge and expertise to improve patient experience influence policy, and streamline processes. In addition, many practiced nurses are stepping into leadership roles and even crossing over to the provider side as Nurse Practitioners. These prospects are exciting but are taking nurses away from the bedside, perpetuating the seemingly endless problem of increased patient volume and acuity without the staff to support the demand.
In addition, pressures are being felt surrounding nurse development. Nursing programs are limiting enrollment due to the lack of advisors/teachers/mentors. Without the professionals to cultivate new classes of nursing students, the existing problems are further exacerbated. The number of direct care nurses is minimized leaving hospitals and health systems scrambling to fill schedules. Those nurses that are available are now torn between full-time employment options and the lucrative agency environment created by the impacts of the pandemic.
How are healthcare organizations supposed to address these challenges on top of the recovery and stabilization efforts already underway? For most leaders, it seems like an insurmountable task. The reality is that the solution, for the most part, is what it always has been; effective management through routine data analysis and performance monitoring. Though a robust productivity system will not magically make more nurses appear, it can help to ensure the proper utilization of the current staff and spotlight the areas of true need. When resources are routinely assessed and aligned with volume on a department-by-department basis, improvement strategies are much easier to identify and execute. Organizations are now realizing the value of heightened cross-training and extended functionality, not just with their nursing staff, but system-wide. Furthermore, productivity data also focuses on overtime, contract, and staff turnover to provide a clear picture of current state, helping to reduce staff burnout, limit operating costs, and promote greater retention practices.
The ALTIUS team believes in having the right person, in the right place, at the right time, performing the right tasks for the best outcomes. We have been working with hospitals and health systems of varying sizes and situations to respond to present concerns; prioritizing opportunities, creating improvement plans, instilling accountability, and implementing positive change one step at a time. To learn more about our solutions and partner with us, contact us here today!