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How Nurse Scheduling Software Helps Attract and Keep Nurses

How Nurse Scheduling Software Helps Attract and Keep Nurses

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.

  1. Telehealth

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Nurse specialization

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.

A case study Giving nurses input into scheduling

Case Study: Nurse Staff Scheduling

One of the biggest challenges hospitals face is turnover of nurses. Keeping qualified, engaged nurses who love their job can save an organization money and impact patient satisfaction. Southampton Hospital in New York has succeeded in overcoming this challenge.

Case study

Southampton Hospital is a 100-bed community hospital that employs over 200 nurses. Annually, it admits 6,500 patients, has 25,000 emergency room visits and 750 births. A seasonal influx of patients during the summer tourism months has historically created challenges in staffing and scheduling. Nursing union mandates required many hours of managerial time spent monthly in each unit creating schedules, filling staffing shortages, mediating union concerns over scheduling conflicts and managing the cost of overtime.

To overcome these challenges, Southampton Hospital decided to employ Intrigma’s Efficient Scheduler for Nurses. Since then, the hospital has seen major changes in efficiency and satisfaction among staff and patients.

Raise healthcare efficiency

New scheduling technology has resulted in both a sizable drop in time spent scheduling shifts and a notable increase in nursing staff retention. These two changes have improved the hospital’s overall efficiency.

Dramatically reduced scheduling time.Nurse managers on each unit had been spending 40 hours every month on scheduling. Following implementation of advanced scheduling software, they saw a 90% reduction in nurse manager time devoted not only to creating schedules, but to reducing costly scheduling conflicts. Since schedule requests can now be made online, there are no longer multiple avenues for staff requests to be sent to the nurse managers, which reduces mistakes and saves time.

Lower labor costs and turnover. Research has shown that nursing turnover is costly. The American Nurses Association estimates the cost of turnover of one nurse at $22,000 to $64,000. This cost involves advertising, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, comprehensive orientation and training, plus the lower productivity level of new nurses. Also, nursing turnover can lead to more nursing turnover since nurses leaving one organization may take their friends and coworkers with them. Southampton Hospital has seen a huge annual savings of $300,000 since implementing Intrigma’s Efficient Scheduler for Nurses.

Raise staff and patient satisfaction

Easier and more efficient scheduling boosts satisfaction among both nursing staff and patients.

Give nurses control of their schedules.Nurses are the lifeblood of hospitals. Yet they often feel undervalued and taken advantage of. Nurses like to have some control over when they work; lack of control and flexibility in the workplace is often cited as a top reason for nurse turnover. Allowing nurses to access their schedule and input scheduling requests from home lets them involve their families in the decision-making process. Employing a collaborative staffing model is a huge step in improving work-life balance for nurses.

Increase Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores. As an added benefit of utilizing Intrigma’s scheduling software, Southampton Hospital saw an increase in Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores from the 80th percentile to the high 90th percentile. With the software, nurses perceive more control over their schedules and in turn feel more valued. This fosters a culture of teamwork and collaboration within the hospital, and happy nurses translate into happy patients.

Nurses are always putting others’ needs ahead of their own. In order for healthcare organizations to recruit and retain these valuable front-line workers, they must give back. Help your nurses help your patients by giving them scheduling software that makes their job a little less stressful.

 

What Do Nurses Really Want for Nurses Week?

What Do Nurses Really Want for Nurses Week?

Nurses Week is a time every May (the 6th-12th) when nurses are recognized, typically through small tokens of appreciation like cups, water bottles, or gift certificates. But what do nurses really want (and need)? While nurses enjoy these presents, you could give them something truly valuable that will help make their lives easier. Discover what those gifts are below.

Respect

A new coffee mug is nice, but what nurses really want from you is realistic expectations. They can’t be saddled with a whole unit of sick patients and no support staff. Short-staffed units create stress and increase the chance of medical errors, so having PRN staff to cover shortages can help keep your full-time nurses happy.

Nurses also need the appropriate tools to do their job well. Medical records systems that are user-friendly and patient-centric are important. Nurses want to spend time with their patients, not fighting with computer software. Keeping the unit well stocked with supplies is also key. Nothing is more frustrating than needing a certain item and not being able to find it. This wastes time and energy, leading to frustration for both the patient and nurse.

Nurses want training for the specific unit and patient population too. Newly graduated nurses especially need extra time with mentors to make sure they are ready to perform the job to the best of their ability. Make sure your nurses are well versed in the specifics of their unit. Some healthcare systems now offer to pay for specialty certifications or bring in guest speakers during Nurses Week.

Your nursing staff also expect pay commensurate with their level of experience and the difficulty of their job. Those in critical care units and emergency departments often hold specialty certifications. Make sure they’re compensated for their time, knowledge, and skill expertise.

And last but not least, a simple thank you goes a long way. Recognize work well done and extend positive patient feedback whenever possible. It seems quick and simple, but it is often overlooked. This type of action develops a sense of appreciation and pride in nurses.

Time

Time is a precious gift, and nurses understand this more than anyone. They want time to perform their tasks safely and effectively while being able to spend time with those patients who need it the most: new mothers, the mentally ill, and the terminally ill. Having time to sit down with a patient and hold their hand can make a positive impact on both the patient and the nurse.

But nurses need time away from patients too. They have their own families and life demands. Give them time off and approve vacations. Intrigma’s scheduling software allows transparency, which helps nurses in the same unit plan vacations so requests don’t overlap. This is one simple way you can keep your nurses satisfied and reduce turnover throughout the whole year, not just during Nurses Week.

Work-life balance

It’s worth repeating: Nurses are people too. They have families that need them as much as your unit does. As often as possible, limit overtime. While sometimes overtime is unavoidable, consistently having too little staff and forcing nurses to work extra shifts is a big dissatisfier.

When they are on the job, allow nurses time to check in with family. Ensure that a nurse manager sees to it that each nurse gets (and actually takes) their allotted breaks. Your nursing schedule should include a lunch break and a couple of 15-minute breaks during the day. This allows nurses to step away from the unit, catch their breath and make a call home.

Flexible scheduling is one of the biggest requests nurses have to achieve work-life balance. Allowing your nurses to trade or swap shifts with short notice is one way to show respect. Life happens, even after the schedule is posted!

Also, set some rules in the schedule to establish consistency, and allow the schedule to work for nurses. For example, with Intrigma’s Efficient Scheduler for Nurses, you can set work hour requirements and seniority rules. Scheduling software that allows flexibility in this manner allows nurses to balance work and life demands, thus reducing call-offs. This, in turn, creates less scheduling work for you.

The last piece of the puzzle is continuing education – nurses must have it. Allow them to complete continuing education while at work. During Nurses Week, give them a list of free CEUs and allow them time during the week to gain some education and training. Paying professional organization dues gives nurses access to free continuing education, and it shows your nurses that their knowledge, training, and education is one of your top

Make a difference now

Nursing is one of the most selfless and noble careers out there, and while you should always care for your staff, you have a prime opportunity to show your appreciation in meaningful ways during Nurses Week. One of the most valuable ways to give thanks to nurses is to optimize their schedule. Learn more about how Intrigma’s scheduling software can help you achieve this. Contact the team today.

Nurses Are What Makes The Healthcare System Thrive

Nurses Week + Nurses Month + The Year Of the Nurse = Nurses Are What Makes The Healthcare System Thrive

It’s Nurses week, nurses month and of course it’s been “The Year Of the Nurse,” since 2020! Where would healthcare be without nurses? It’s clear that nurses are the heart and soul of the healthcare system.

National nurses week starts every year officially on May 6 and ends on May 12 which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale’s, known as the founder of the nursing profession. In 1954 national nurses week was first observed from May 11-16 to celebrate Florence Nightingales 100th anniversary of her mission to Crimea. Despite several attempts by the American Nurses Association (ANA) to have nurses recognized during a certain week, it wasn’t until 1982 when then president, Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation making May 6 officially “National Nurses Day.”

Nurses Keep Patients Safe

The first priority of all healthcare providers is patient safety. Perhaps Florence Nightingale said it best when she stated “It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm. It is quite necessary, nevertheless, to lay down such a principle.” When Florence Nightingale served her time in the Crimean war from 1853 to 1856, she noticed thousands of British soldiers dying from infections. She then toured various hospitals in Europe and wrote about her data in her book “Notes on Nursing,” she outlines a playbook of sorts for nurses and healthcare providers on how to keep patients safe and healthy.

Not All Nurse Schedules Are The Same

Just like there are many different types of nurses, there are also many different types of nursing work schedules. Nurses can be found almost anywhere these days, from hospitals to theme parks. Full time nurse schedules can vary and include 30-46-hour shifts.

Examples of nurse schedules include:

  • The 12-hour shift: Nurses who work in hospital setting will commonly work three 12-hour shifts in a row in a facility that gives patients 24-hour care.
  • The 10-hour shift: Although 10-hour shifts are not as common as 12-hour shifts, medical clinics and private practice healthcare settings often follow this staffing schedule.
  • The 8-hour shift: Five 8-hour shifts in a row can be found in school-based clinics, private practice facilities and medical clinics.
  • PRN: In Latin PRN “pre re neta” means as needed. PRN nurses do not have set schedules and usually work as needed. They get staffed when there is a staffing shortage of emergency situation.

The Pro’s and Con’s to 12 Hour Shift Work

Although, 12-hour shifts can seem like running a never-ending marathon, there are always pro’s and con’s. The pro’s:  number of patient deaths were found to be lower amongst nurses who work 12 hour shifts. More time is always an added bonus.

The con’s: increased fatigue, depression, dissatisfaction with work life balance, and a diminished social life. A study found that nurses who worked 12.5-hour shifts had an increase in medication errors.

Tips To Surviving Three 12’s In A Row

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get lots of rest
  • Boost your immune system
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Invest in blackout curtains and ear plugs
  • Take your breaks

Intrigma Understands Nurses And Their Staffing Needs

Intrigma’s workforce scheduling offers tracking metrics which tracks nurses vacation time, PTO, and those shifts that might not be so popular focusing on creating fairness. Intrigma’s patient volume planner matches patient volume to provider productivity helping to keep patients safe.