By Kathleen Nguyen
Project Manager
PPD – Part of Thermo Fisher Scientific

While the nursing shortage has long been an ailment of the health care industry, symptoms have worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, the resulting rising need for inpatient care and temporary and contract nurses exacerbated the nursing crisis. This prompted Teaching Hospitals of Texas  to conduct a study in October 2021, surveying leaders among nursing and staffing teams to delve into what operational and financial shifts were deemed necessary in response to the crisis. Click here to see the report.

Based on the feedback and findings, the crisis is projected to continue. Both short-term and long-term solutions must be identified and carried out, and many of the leaders at each of the health system reviewed outlined several protocols that were either implemented or revised. While much of the report reiterates findings in other analyses, leaders from several Texas teaching hospitals identified the following issues:

  • Hospitals found that many qualified, contracted nurses need additional experience, skills, and/or competency trainings and briefings to deliver care at their expected level. Much of this could be achieved and maintained in real-time.
  • Specialized training for temporary or travel nurses may also be necessary to align each with the respective hospital’s software and/ or processes.
  • Investments must be made to update and enhance clinical education, particularly for new hires to backfill positions. While there has always been a gap between new nurses and experienced one, the need for experienced nurses has become an immediate one.

Finance issues associated with  nurse staffing shortages continue to threaten operations and profitability as well.

  • Incentives vary based on market and region to retain nurses. In some cases, nurses’ pay during a 13-week period exceeded what they would have made on an annual basis as a full-time nurse.
  • Efforts to minimize the demand for contract labor is essential. Nurses have certainly been incentivized to leave their full time positions for contract work or travel positions that boast higher pay.

Additional feedback detailed the severity of staff burnout and addressed efforts to enhance resiliency during these times of uncertainty. Ultimately, hospitals must still attempt to cultivate a culture that values their employees, loyalty, and a unified focus on a mission.

Here’s more about the issue, published in the Houston Chronicle

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