Nurse Staffing: Top Challenges the Healthcare Industry Faces & Their Solutions
April 14, 2022
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“America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.”

- Barack Obama

When your healthcare organization faces a shortage in nurse staff, the ability to care for patients and provide necessary assistance to the doctors can be severely impacted. For the past few years, hospitals are having difficulty finding qualified candidates to bridge the staffing gap.

Nurse staffing is increasingly becoming a major problem in the healthcare industry, and this shortage is not specific to the hospital size or location. This issue is prevailing across the country as, sometimes, it takes months for hospitals to fill vacant positions. And when it comes to hiring for higher positions, the time frame to find a qualified candidate can stretch even more.

Since the healthcare system is continually under pressure due to the increasing number of patients after the pandemic, an increase in chronic diseases, and the aging population, identifying the right talent for nurse staffing has become critical more than ever.

To find the solution, your first step should be to identify why the shortage in nurse staffing continues to prevail. Besides, you also need to take a look at the challenges that the healthcare industry faces due to staffing shortage.

Why is it becoming more common for hospitals to have a higher nurse turnover?

The demand for health care is skyrocketing in the United States. However, patient care has rarely been a reason behind the increasing nurse turnover in hospitals. In most cases, nurses leave their jobs because they don’t get administrative support, they have to work in an unhealthy work environment, and they are not given any incentives.

Moral distress, burnouts, compassion fatigue, depression, anxiety, and PTSD - all these issues that nurses face in a hospital also contribute to the increasing nurse turnover in hospitals. In many cases, the reason behind a higher nurse turnover is also the practice of filling vacant positions with people who have different or insufficient skill sets for the required jobs.

Thus, hospitals not only need to work on closing the vacancy gap in the nurse staffing but also need to provide nurses with enough support, training, and incentives. Plus, offering them opportunities for professional development can also make a difference in the nurse retention rate in a hospital.

Top Challenges of the Healthcare Industry Due to Inadequate Nurse Staffing

1.    Negative Impact on Patient Outcomes

While gaps in staffing for short period is something that we might see in almost all kinds of professions, inadequate staffing in hospitals is a matter of life and death. The limited availability of nurses in a healthcare organization is a direct threat to patient health and safety. Research has shown that better nurse staffing in medical-surgical units results in reduced patient mortality, lowered readmissions, and decreased length of stay in the hospital.

2.    Increasing Pressure on Existing Nurses

Due to the shortage of nurses in a hospital, other nurses that are working long-hours face job burnout as they have to constantly deal with increased pressure, overtime, fatigue, and injury rate. All of this also influences their ability to provide safe care. Consequently, the situation leads to many nurses leaving the profession and looking for other ways to make their ends meet.

3.    Longer Working Hours

While working hours for hospital nurses are already longer, the problem of shortage in nurse staffing can further lead to chronic overtime. Due to the consistent shortage in nursing staff for longer periods, most hospitals have placed mandatory overtime. It’s a highly dangerous practice as it affects the patients’ recovery rate and increases medical errors.

4.    Hindrance in Creating a Safe Work Environment

Filling the gap with untrained professionals or continuing with the staffing gap can cause issues with safe patient handling and the safe usage of needles. Needle-stick injuries and blood-borne infections have become major concerns as most injuries involve nursing staff, laboratory staff, and physicians.  

Top Strategies to Solve the Problem of Shortage in Nurse Staffing

1. Analyze the nurse workload

To identify the gap in nurse staffing, identify the workload on nurses in your healthcare organization. It is worth examining how nurses spend their time. Do they have to move back and forth a lot to provide care to patients and respond to their calls? If yes, it’s time to change the staffing model to create the floor plan and make the working environment more ergonomic.

2. See if a different skill mix can narrow the staffing gap

The needs of patients in any unit are not the same as the needs of patients in other units. So, analyze the specific requirements of patients and see if you can incorporate the skill mix and have more certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in your nursing staff. Improved collaboration between CNAs and registered nurses (RNs) will ensure the efficient delivery of patient care and allow you to fill the staffing gap faster.

3. Choose only the right talent

Hiring candidates who don’t have the required skills and qualifications just because of lower paychecks is also another reason why many staff professionals feel out of place and don’t stick to one place for longer. So, focusing on finding the right people who fit into your organization or practice is the ultimate way to ensure a low turnover in nurse staffing. For that, you need to learn how your team works and what exact requirements your facility has when it comes to staffing.  

4. Hire a nurse staffing organization

The job of finding quality candidates for nurse staffing is better left to healthcare staff augmentation service providers. When you have professionals to find the right talent for your hospital, you can save your time. By saving your time and freeing your staff from the process of finding the right talent, you can better focus on things that can help improve the work environment. Besides, you can also implement development programs and offer incentives to retain the talent being hired.

If nurse staffing is also something that your healthcare organization is having trouble with, Royale can help you fill the gaps quickly with qualified professionals with the right skills, attitude, and cultural alignment. At Royale, we use our medical industry expertise to find the best talent for your healthcare facility. We ensure that our services of nurse staffing, medical staffing, and healthcare staffing are aligned to your facility’s standards of care and support. Whether you need to augment your nurse staff for a short period or extended period, you can trust Royale to fulfill your scaling nurse staffing needs on both urgent and regular basis.