3 Healthcare HR Strategies for Overcoming Nursing Shortages

3 Healthcare HR Strategies for Overcoming Nursing Shortages
Marketing Specialist

As many as 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day. In healthcare, not only will this continue to exacerbate the ongoing issue of nurse shortages; it will also increase the deficit in knowledgeable, experienced nurses, threatening the safety of patients and the nation’s health as a whole. “The more patients assigned to a nurse, the higher the patients’ risk of death, infections, complications, falls, failure-to-rescue rates and readmission to the hospital—and the longer their hospital stay,” says The New Yorker contributor James Ledbetter.

Today, we need to get nursing graduates’ knowledge up to speed to tackle the looming retirement of one million nurses over the next decade, says Peter Buerhaus, R.N., a healthcare economist and professor of nursing at Montana State University, in a Hospitals & Health Networks article. With the growing concern about the delivery of primary care and the demand for doctors climbing, we need to get nurses more involved in managing certain types of patients, specifically those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, which they could do very well, Buerhaus says.

As we approach another year of forecasted staffing shortages in healthcare, here are a few things to consider:

Promote Employee Development

Offering ongoing development opportunities has proven to be a highly successful strategy for attracting and retaining top talent. In fact, over two-thirds of millennials believe it’s management’s responsibility to provide development opportunities in order for them to stay. Nurses entering the field want to know how much training they’ll receive and whether a mentor will be available to help guide them through their career, says Maureen Swick, R.N., P.h.D., System Chief Nursing Officer at Carolinas HealthCare System. As millennials and Gen Z generations continue to occupy roles formerly held by their aging predecessors, “creating a strong orientation and professional development program is one of the most effective things hospitals can do for recruiting and retention.”

Provide Compensation Packages

Compensation is ranked as one of the top three things millennials cared most when applying for a job, according to a joint survey by our partners at HealthcareSource and the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administraiton (ASHHRA). Aside from competitive benefits, employers need to design new types of compensation packages that reflect the changing financial and lifestyle needs of new nurses. It’s important to consider other financial incentives that aren’t tied directly to salary, experts say. Tuition debt relief, for instance, can be an important incentive for recent graduates entering the profession.

Shift Roles and Responsibilities

Role changes are a pragmatic strategy hospitals are using to cover skill shortages and keep employees engaged. Shifting around what nurses are doing to see what their best value could be is part of a search to get the most out of what all hospital staff can do, Buerhaus says. For example, healthcare employers are tapping into the unused talent that’s already available in the organization by making more use of their current physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs—which is the largest employer of nurses in the country—changed its regulations to give full practice authority for three types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), an initiative endorsed by the American Nurses Association. This move puts veterans’ health first and will improve their access to timely, effective and efficient care.

How will your healthcare organization prepare for the forecasted shortage in healthcare staff? Please share in the comments section below.

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