If you’re a medical management professional, you undoubtedly know that attracting and retaining top-level nursing staff is essential. Like all of your staff, nurses must be comfortable with their schedules and know they can deliver great patient care without being overworked or overstressed. Nurse scheduling software can help manage nursing challenges and needs to help you retain them.
Shortages of professionals are a serious concern for healthcare leadership
You may already be dealing with a growing shortage of registered nurses. In 2018, the American Journal of Healthcare Quality forecasted that shortfalls of 154,018 RNs in 2020 will grow to a deficit of 510,394 by 2030.
You also may know that registered nursing is one of the fastest-growing occupations. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicted the three million RNs working in 2019 would grow by 7%, adding 221,900 jobs by 2029. The report also projected another 175,900 RNs will be needed yearly through 2029 to replace retirements and other workforce losses.
The BLS report also listed that key factors driving RN job growth were increased demands for preventive care, increased chronic disease rates including diabetes and obesity, and growing care needs of aging Baby Boomers who enjoy longer and more active lifestyles.
Of course, these studies were conducted prior to the emergence of COVID-19. Most of us have seen staffing levels swing widely due to changing government mandates, inconsistent patient volumes, budget fluctuations and clinicians’ personal health concerns.
If your facility is like most others, managing fluctuating staffing levels likely will continue to be a top requirement.
Six other factors that affect recruiting and retaining nurses
Experts point to several other forces impacting nurse staffing requirements.
Telehealth should provide important benefits such as improved patient access and increased utilization of the national healthcare system. The new policy guidelines issued by the CMS in March fall in line with this goal, authorizing payments for telehealth visits, virtual check-ins and E-visits. Also, parity laws in your state are likely to require private payors to cover many telehealth procedures.
Telehealth will reduce staff shortages because more efficient care options and reduced administrative burdens will permit providers to see more patients each day. Registered nurses are expected to play an important role in telehealth because they are the entry point of most patients into the healthcare system and are the main providers of health education and long-term monitoring. Telehealth allows nurses to extend their services to patients in other locations. Additionally, its enhanced communications and information management capabilities permit nurses to collaborate efficiently with other clinicians and serve more patients per shift.
Of course, this implies your nurses are comfortable with technology and trained in telehealth applications. Also, telehealth programs add new dimensions to staff scheduling algorithms including technology variables, added locations and even multiple time zones. However, with scheduling software, like Intrigma’s Efficient Scheduler for Nurses, nurse schedulers can more easily coordinate shifts to help manage the changed environment and schedule nurses who are more comfortable working with telehealth than others.
Millennials and Gen Z
One of the biggest socio-economic factors driving nurse recruiting may be generational preferences. U.S. millennials, numbering 72.1 million, who now make up about one-third of the workforce, will be joined by another 65.2 million younger members of the Gen Z cohort, thereby replacing retiring Baby Boomers and dominating the workforce for decades to come.
In February 2020, HCA Healthcare reported the important factors for attracting and retaining Millennial and Gen Z nurses. The top factors in their findings were work relationships, communications and decision making, professional growth, modern facilities, and a positive work environment.
More than 49% said that flexible work schedules were their top priority.
Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)
The NLC lets licensed nurses in participating NLC states practice either in person, in their home state or remotely in 33 other NLC states. If your facility is in one of the participating states, your nurses will enjoy greater flexibility to choose where they practice and relocate more quickly in response to changing market economics and work-life preferences.
However, NLC may add new pressures on administrators who manage nurse scheduling and work-life factors. Fortunately, flexible nurse scheduling and credentialing software, like Intrigma’s Credential Management tool, can help manage schedules for those facilities that provide remote nursing or serve multiple jurisdictions.
Nurse practitioners are taking expanded roles in care delivery
With the predicted shortages of primary care physicians, the 248,000 (in 2018) nurse practitioners are expected to assume much larger roles in family medicine, especially in 22 states and the District of Columbia where they have full practice authority. The number of states that grant NPs full practice authority is expected to expand due to national medical associations’ recommendations, plus pressure from the CMS. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects NP jobs will see strong growth of 45% from 2019 to 2029 as well.
With the expanded authority of nurses, scheduling software that enables quick and convenient shift updates (for surges, last-minute changes, etc.) is crucial in saving nurses time and effort, as well as making it easier for them to achieve an optimal work-life balance so they don’t get burnt out.
Payroll costs will continue to rise
As your facility may have experienced, the pandemic drove a 76% increase in salaries for COVID-19 nurses during the first quarter of 2020. Overtime and expenses for traveling nurses added to the costs.
Salary increases may settle down as COVID-19 becomes more controlled, but even modest increases combined with the other factors will propel significantly higher payroll costs. Your scheduling system should be efficient and avoid duplicating work or wasting staff’s time.
Recent reports from schools and nurse staffing agencies state that increased specialization is one of the top trends in nursing. Adding new professional skill categories and job duties require flexible and easily customizable scheduling software, like Intrigma’s, to coordinate shifts and maintain a diverse staff capable of handling various situations.
Quality staffing management is critical for attracting and retaining nurses
A report on the causes of nurse turnover and shortages revealed that while a number of factors come into play, a lack of control over staffing ratios was a key reason nurses chose to leave their profession.
Fortunately, modern nurse scheduling software can help avoid turnover by:
- Adding flexibility.
- Improving nurses’ productivity and satisfaction.
- Being quick and accurate regarding last-minute changes and shortages.
- Being fair and sensitive to nurses’ work-life balance.
- Saving nurse managers time when scheduling shifts.
Contact Intrigma to learn how scheduling software can help you meet the ever-changing challenges of efficient nurse scheduling and help you attract and retain top-tier staff.