Staffing During a Nursing Shortage? Fill Shifts for Now

Staffing During a Nursing Shortage? Fill Shifts for Now

Many health care facilities find themselves understaffed from time-to-time. Often, it is obvious that the nursing shortage is a temporary state of affairs, and it is, therefore, unnecessary and uneconomical to hire additional permanent staff. Or you may be looking for permanent staff, but still need to fill ad-hoc shifts while the hiring process runs its course. 

In these cases, a nursing agency can help you fill shifts in the interim. Since you only need coverage for a limited period, look for a nursing agency like Clipboard Health that doesn’t charge upfront fees or require a long-term commitment. 

Here are some common reasons why you may find yourself temporarily short-staffed, and what to look for in a health care staffing agency to find the best solution.

Reasons Why You May Be Temporarily Short-Staffed

why you may have a nursing shortage at your facility infographic

1. The Hiring Process Is Long

Hiring a permanent staff member can take a long time, and that is certainly true in the health care industry. In fact, it takes 55 working days on average to hire a Registered Nurse, while a person leaving may only give two weeks’ notice. That said, rushing the hiring process can have dire consequences. 

A permanent position should be offered to someone who has all the necessary qualifications, is reliable and dependable, and has the soft skills needed to work well with the current team. Therefore it might make sense to seek temporary staff to fill shifts during your hiring process, to give you some breathing room as you look for permanent staff.

2. Medical Leave

Health care professionals are heroes, but they are human beings too, and they will occasionally need medical care of their own. Whether it’s an unexpected leave from an accident or illness or a planned leave for surgery or new parenthood, it can be a tricky situation from a staffing perspective to cover their shifts while also giving them adequate time to recover or adapt to their new lifestyle. You need their workload covered, but you also want them to have a secure job to come back to.

3. Vacation / PTO

Health care professionals work hard. Their jobs are highly-skilled, fast-paced, physically demanding, and emotionally draining at times. Health care professionals truly need adequate rest and relaxation, both in recognition of their hard work and to ensure they are always performing at their best. But you also don’t want to overburden some staff while others are vacationing, so you need a temporary solution that works for everyone.

4. The COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of long hours and additional work for health care professionals. Many facilities with COVID-19 cases need more coverage than ever before. And, at the same time, health care workers have a 12 times greater risk of contracting the virus, which then requires them time to rest and recover. 

Therefore, it’s important to make a plan for your coverage, especially should the unfortunate event occur that one or more of your staff comes down with COVID-19. Having access to a pool of health care professionals who are willing to work and have negative COVID-19 tests per your requirements would be helpful during this time. 

5. Hard-to-Fill Shifts

Some shifts attract more interest than Martha Stewart’s pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner, while others are like lumpy mashed potatoes — no one wants ‘em. You can set policies and quotas, and you can beg and plead, but you know you’re going to need extra help to fill those less-than-desirable shifts from time to time.

6. Actual Nursing Shortage

Additionally, it can be hard to find permanent nursing staff due to an overall shortage of health care professionals that is expected to continue to grow over the next 10 years. The shortage includes many types of health care professionals, including registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses/licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants and orderlies, home health aides, and medical assistants. The need for these health care professionals is growing rapidly due to an aging population and the health care demands of the baby boomer generation. 

Additionally, high turnover is common in these professions and can be attributed to multiple factors including burnout, family obligations, and unsatisfactory staffing ratios. There is also currently a shortage of faculty at accredited registered nursing programs, limiting the number of graduates, while at the same time one-third of RNs will reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years, further exacerbating the shortage of registered nurses in particular.

What to Look for in a Staffing Agency

1. No Long-Term Commitment

If you know you only need extra staff temporarily or from time-to-time, choose a staffing agency that doesn’t trap you in a contract that doesn’t match your needs. Find a nursing agency that helps you fill shifts when you need to, however sporadically you may need their help.

2. No Upfront Fees

Additionally, you have a budget and you need to use it to maximize patient care. Find a nursing agency that only charges when you request shifts so that you don’t end up paying extraneous, unintelligible fees, and you can maximize the dollars going directly to care for your patients.

3. Health Care Professionals Who Are Pre-Screened and Pre-Vetted

Ultimately, your main concern is providing the best care possible to your patients, and to do that you need high-quality health care professionals who have this same goal in mind. Choose an agency where all health care professionals are pre-screened, trained, and with all of their documents expertly reviewed. Also, make sure you can specify all the documents you require, including evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within your specified timeline. 

4. Technology to Get Things Done Fast

You’re busy. You need to get tasks done quickly and efficiently. When you work with an agency, you should be able to request and sign-off on shifts simply and easily, with the click of a button. Look for an agency with technology designed to make the process of filling shifts as swift and easy as possible. You should also be apprised of all health care professionals assigned to work at your facility and be able to easily view all of their documentation.

5. Dedicated Customer Service and 24/7 Support

That said, you should also be able to depend on your agency for human support whenever you may need it. Look for an agency with a dedicated Customer Success Manager who will get to know your business and your preferences, and be able to anticipate your needs. You also want an agency with a 24/7 support line should you need it.

There are several reasons your health care facility may become temporarily short-staffed, and an often overlooked one is when you going through the recruiting and hiring process for additional permanent staff. Whatever the reason, a nursing agency that can help you fill those staffing gaps, but doesn’t require a long-term commitment, can help. 

At Clipboard Health, we don’t require a commitment, and you can use us as little or as often as you need to. We also don’t charge upfront fees, so you only pay when our health care professionals work your shifts. We also provide a dedicated Customer Success Manager during business hours who will get to know you, gain an understanding of your business, and ensure your needs are being met. And we have a 24/7 support team so that you can always get a hold of us, whenever you need to. 

Fill out this simple form to get in touch with us today, so we can be on standby for when you need us.

Jessica Bishop

Jessica has spent her career in marketing and communications, working on growth and retention, content creation, video production, operations, data analytics, and project management. Jessica works on various projects for Clipboard Academy and Clipboard Health, including content creation, project management, and copy editing. She is an avid reader, writer, TV-watcher, skier, and coffee-drinker.