Nurse Shortage: 3 Strategies Healthcare Companies Can Use to Fill The Gap
Nurses are one of the most in-demand workers in the United States and this demand will only continue to increase as more of the nation’s aging population will need supportive care. At the same time, many skilled nurses and other healthcare workers will be leaving the workforce because of retirement or other reasons.
If the success of your healthcare company depends in any way on maintaining a reliable number of nurses on staff, the nurse shortage should be a major cause of concern. It’s a seller’s market when it comes to nursing: Consider that, “Overall employment of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is projected to grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS indicated that “growth will occur primarily because of an increased emphasis on preventive care and demand for healthcare services from an aging population.”
With that in mind, here are three hiring strategies that hospitals and healthcare companies can use to fill these open nursing positions.
1. Work With Traveling Nurses
It’s possible that gaps in your nurse staffing positions could be filled to some degree by working with traveling nurses. Whether you are at a small or large hospital or other healthcare organization, you will always need to have a certain number of nurses available to tend to your patients. As the patient population fluctuates and you determine that permanent hires are difficult to recruit to meet these needs, it makes sense to turn to travel nurses.
This is a strategy that makes sense for many healthcare companies, with a report from EveryNurse noting that requests for travel nurses are now at a 7-year high. Your use of travel nurses could provide you with the right amount of flexibility when HR is having problems finding local recruits in pace with growing demand to serve more patients.
2. Recruit Nurses From Other Countries
The difficulty in sourcing the right amount of nurses trained in the U.S. has led to healthcare companies searching for more recruits from outside the country. Since nurses trained in other countries must pass arduous tests and become licensed, find a sponsor and demonstrate proficiency in English before they are allowed to work here, healthcare organizations can rest assured that they can find solid recruits from their ranks.
They have on average 5 to 10 years of experience in nursing, according to Nurse.org, and typically have gone through training that is similar to that received here in the U.S. What’s more, bringing in foreign nurses can improve your organization’s cultural diversity, which goes a long way in patient relations. Nurse.org notes that another benefit of working with foreign nurses is that they are more “more likely to work shifts that are difficult to staff–such as holidays, nights, and weekends.”
3. Do Better at Retaining the Nurses You Have on Staff Now
One of the most effective ways to deal with the nurse shortage would be to improve how you keep your current nurses on staff longer. A report from Rasmussen College points out that “healthcare organizations can implement short-term solutions to help prevent burnout and turnover among the current nursing workforce. This can be done by reviewing internal policies for productivity, better utilizing medical assistants as appropriate and more effectively implementing technology to improve efficiency.”
Other ways to improve nurse retention include reimbursing them for student loans, adding more opportunities to advance from within and providing paid training. And honestly, above all else, the absolute best way to make sure you retain your nurses (and attract more of them while you’re at it!) is by getting real feedback from them about what they want from you as an employer so that you can do what you can to provide that to them. Because what if there wasn’t something you could do easily to make them stay? You can get helpful employee feedback by asking them directly, asking them to submit their suggestions to you anonymously, or by staying on top of the online employee reviews that already exist about your company.
Developing a Strategy Now to Bring More Nurses to Your Organization
It’s apparent that the need for well-trained, qualified nurses is only going to increase, especially when it comes to providing comprehensive care for the growing number of aging members in this country. Forming a strategy to put your organization in a better position to attract and recruit more nurses should be among your top priorities.
You don’t have to tackle this kind of project on your own. Forming a partnership between your stakeholders and some external, seasoned employer branding professionals can help you brainstorm and come up with a unique plan to address the nurse shortage and to fill the gap.