Category: Hospital Staffing


Get Your Facility Ready for Nurses Week 2014!

Celebrate Get Your Facility Ready for Nurses Week 2014!

Get your facility ready now to celebrate Nurses Week, May 6-12, 2014!

Spring is a-popping and that means National Nurses Week will be here before we know it.

Nurses Week runs May 6-12 each year, ending on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The annual week-long celebration is a fantastic opportunity to show your staff how much you value your Nurses.

A little recognition in one form or another goes a long way towards making these tireless, indispensable healthcare professionals feel special and valued within your facility.

This year the American Nurses Association is offering a really neat Nurses Week 2014 Toolkit. The goal is for the kit to act as a resource “that provides you with additional ways to recognize your nursing staff’s professional skills and abilities.”

If your facility wants to celebrate Nurses Week 2014, it’s a good idea to get a plan together now to outline that celebration, and the ANA’s Toolkit can help.  

Of course, staffing professionals and hospital administrators are very busy people, but taking the effort to recognize Nurses Week and the important contributions of your Nurse staff will make them happy and encourage a happy working environment for all. Not only is it good for your people, it’s good for your facility.  

Happy early Nurses Week!    

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Infographic Details Jobs and the Nursing Shortage

As a member of hospital community, you know how important it is to maintain optimum staffing levels. It’s important to healthcare workers, staff, administration, and, of course, patients.

As time passes, the nursing shortage will continue to have a major impact on staffing levels at healthcare facilities. But what exactly is the trajectory of the shortage? And what are the factors that are influencing it?

Medical Solutions recently released an infographic titled, “Nursing Shortage: Then Why Can’t I Find a Job?” The infographic is primarily aimed at Travel Nurses, but we wanted to share it here on the Healthcare Staffing Blog as well, since it highlights some important trends and causes of the nursing shortage.

Understanding when and why the nursing shortage is expected to peak can help your facility know what to expect, staff appropriately, and continue delivering excellent patient care.      


Nursing Shortage Infographic 2014 Infographic Details Jobs and the Nursing Shortage

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Nursing Shortage Increases

Survey Results Nursing Shortage Increases

Survey Says: Nursing Shortage Continues to Increase

AMN Healthcare Inc. recently released its 2013 Clinical Workforce Survey — “A National Survey of Hospital Executives Examining Clinical Workforce Issue in the Era of Health Reform.” The results indicate a continued trend in the direction of a nursing shortage, an issue that Travel Nurses help address. The indication was that the vacancy rate for nurses at hospitals is at 17 percent, much higher than when this data was collected in 2009.

AMN president and chief executive officer Susan Salka spoke recently with Healthcare Traveler magazine about the survey.   

“Change in healthcare is a continuous evolution, but the one constant is people,” she told Healthcare Traveler. “No matter what models of care are in place, it takes physicians, nurses, and other clinicians to provide quality patient care, and the fact is we simply do not have enough of them.”

According to the article, “More than 70 percent (of hospital executives and leaders surveyed) rated the staffing of nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants as a high priority in 2013, compared to only 24 percent of hospital executives who rated staffing these professionals as a high priority in AMN Healthcare’s 2009 workforce survey.”

The survey also said that the hospital vacancy rates of clinical professionals had risen since 2009. In 2009 nurse vacancies were reported at 5.5 percent, whereas in 2013 they were reported as having risen to 17 percent. The allied professional vacancy rate rose from 4.6 percent in 2009 to 13.3 percent in 2013.   

Salka also told Healthcare Traveler magazine: “We are expanding access to healthcare and restructuring the delivery system to improve quality and reduce costs at the precise moment when a wave of physicians and nurses is set to retire. It will take new, collaborative, and innovative staffing models to ensure our workforce is aligned with the goals we all want to reach.”   

Travel Nursing will certainly continue to be a huge part of easing the nursing shortage and helping facilities continue to provide excellent patient care. Click here to check out the Travel Nursing services Medical Solutions offers to many facilities across the nation. 

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Lawsuit Alleges Ohio Nurse Was “Worked to Death”

Beth Jaspers 2 Lawsuit Alleges Ohio Nurse Was “Worked to Death”

Beth Jaspers’ husband alleges her death was a result of hospital understaffing.

The husband of a deceased Cincinnati, Ohio nurse says that she died due to major and irresponsible staffing cuts at her hospital. Beth Jaspers died in a one-car accident when she lost control of her SUV, flew off of Ohio’s Route 50, crashed into a tree, and died at the scene. The accident took place in the early morning hours as she attempted to return home after a 12-hour shift.

Jim Jasper’s lawsuit names Jewish Hospital and its parent company Mercy Health Partners as defendants in the suit which alleges that they willfully and knowingly worked Beth Jaspers to death by accounting for staffing cuts by making the remaining nurses work longer hours than expected in order to cover the hospital’s needs.

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the hospital was “regularly understaffed” and had been since 2011. Due to the understaffing nurses would regularly be called in to work while off-duty, work through meal breaks and often without bathroom breaks, pick up additional shifts, and be asked to work longer hours than scheduled.

The hospital would not comment, referencing pending litigation, except to say, “Our hearts go out to the family.”  

The lawsuit states that during her last shift Beth Jaspers told co-workers that she was “really stressed” and “hadn’t eaten,” and that this fatigue caused by chronic hospital understaffing contributed to her death. It also alleges that Beth Jaspers’ supervisor was well aware of how hard she’d been being worked, even reporting to her superiors that Beth was being “worked to death.” Despite this, no action was taken by the hospital to deal with the nurse burnout caused by understaffing.           

“Something needs to change, these nurses cannot be treated this way. The patient care is an issue, but they can’t continue to work these nurses and expect them to pick up the slack because they don’t want to staff the hospitals,” Jim Jasper told a CNN affiliate.

Bonnie Castillo, government relations director with National Nurses United, told CNN that habitual hospital understaffing is a huge issue at many hospitals throughout the U.S.

“It is probably the single biggest issue facing nurses nowadays, and it’s not only affecting nurses, but patient health as well,” said Castillo.     

Nurse burnout is certainly a major issue, and it’s truly tragic when a situation like Beth Jaspers’ death occurs. Travel Nurses are one way to fend off the ill effects of nurse burnout. What steps does your facility take in order to combat nurse burnout? 

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How Hospitals Should Prepare for a Busy 2014

Be Prepared How Hospitals Should Prepare for a Busy 2014The reaction of hospital leaders to the passing of the Affordable Care Act definitely varied. Some were happy to embrace it, hoping it would streamline and improve the industry and the patient care offered. Others were warty, thinking it might present administrative burdens that could negatively affect care.

But whatever their initial reaction, hospitals and hospital leaders are now gearing up for the upcoming implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its effects on their patients and facilities. There is a lot of talk surrounding how hospitals should prepare for a busy 2014. Projections indicate that 2014 will be a busy year for hospitals and healthcare staffing agencies.

Here are some tips for how hospitals should prepare for a busy 2014:

Plan to see more patients who are insured.
Your facility should expect to see a decrease in ER visits and a higher volume of patients seeking preventative care. The numbers aren’t solid as we wait to see how state opt-outs affect things, but in 2014 tens of millions more Americans will be covered. Look at factors that may be specific to your local area and plan ahead for the influx of so many new insured patients.

Make your hospital more efficient at the administrative level.
Administrative waste and inefficiency can be a huge drain on your facility’s overall performance. Cut out unnecessary administrative processes and pare down on unnecessary procedures.

Improve patient care, reduce readmissions.
This relates to improving efficiency on a care level. As you cut out wasteful ways, you will improve the quality of your care. One major way to do this is to reduce readmission. Make sure your staff is fully and comprehensively addressing patient’s issues in as few visits as possible. Thinking long-term, big picture for each patient is the way to achieve this.

Welcome new technologies for healthcare administration, information exchange, and record keeping.
These kinds of IT solutions improve patient care coordination in a big way. And, in turn, this will improve not just the patient experience, but also your facility’s reputation for care and organization. What’s more, these types of systems are gaining ground in the industry and will likely be considered standard in the near future. Better for your facility to be ahead of the crowd on this one than catching up to this later on.

Stay in the know and be prepared to be flexible.
The best you can do is to stay updated on the news regarding the Affordable Care Act and its anticipated effect on hospitals in 2014. This is a work in progress and things could change along the way. The best defense to ride this wave is to remain informed of changes and other news and to plan to be flexible along the way.

Hopefully these tactics for how hospitals should prepare for a busy 2014 will help keep your facility on top and performing well. To the future we go!


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How to Boost Patient Numbers

Growth Chart How to Boost Patient NumbersYou have a great facility and you work hard to staff it well and maintain its safety and quality of patient care. But how do you attract a broad, healthy patient base? Of course, there will always be a need for healthcare and a market for patients who need it, but how can your facility really stand out amongst all of the other hospitals?

Some Tips on How to Boost Patient Numbers:

  • Get social! These days it’s easier than ever to market your facility with ease. Social media is an inexpensive means for visibility and lets you connect with your patient base in a friendly, organic setting. Beyond using pages on Twitter and/or Facebook to connect, once you have amassed enough followers (100 likes on Facebook or 20 Twitter followers) you can look into the option of promoting your account and/or creating paid ads.
  • Take your campaign to email! Today’s email marketing campaigns are very successful and there are a variety of ways to use it to help boost patient numbers for your facility. Start building your mailing list (social media can help with this too if you run a complementary campaign) and then create great content.
  • Most importantly, continue to offer great patient care and a great workplace for your staff. The nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals that staff your hospital are the face of it. Patients will remember their experiences with your staff and they will usually tell their friends how it went. A particularly good or bad experience can have a pretty considerable impact on public opinion of your facility.

Check out this great blog post on specifically low-cost ways and tips on how to boost patient numbers. It goes in depth on social media and email marketing use as well as some tips on how to use Google AdWords and directory listings to your advantage when looking for new ways to boost your patient intake.

We hope these tips will help you practice how to boost patient numbers for your facility! Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips to share.


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Make Your Hospital Safe for Nurses

Time to Adapt Make Your Hospital Safe for NursesNurse safety and patient safety are very closely intertwined. If healthcare staff has all of the tools they need to do their jobs, then they are much safer and, in turn, the patients and even the families of patients that they are serving are also much safer. So how can you make your hospital safe for nurses?

An article on Health Leaders Media called “Patient Safety: Pay Now or Later” discusses the idea that paying for certain technology and enhancements, such as “ceiling lifts to assist in moving, lifting, and repositioning patients can prevent injuries among nursing staff and enhance the patient experience,” but they also state that some hospitals and facilities are not quite on board in implementing such helpful aids.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) contends the investment is well worth it, according to the article. According to ANA president, Karen Daley, there may be some legislation in the works to improve safety standards. Right now they are voluntarily based upon the ANA’s national disciplinary standards for safe-patient handling.

The standards include:

  • Establish a culture of safety
  • Implement and sustain a safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) Program
  • Incorporate ergonomic design principles to provide a safe environment of care
  • Select, install, and maintain SPHM technology
  • Establish a system for education, training, and maintaining competence
  • Integrate patient-centered SPHM assessment, plan of care, and use of SPHM technology
  • Include SPHM in reasonable accommodation and post-injury return to work
  • Establish a comprehensive evaluation system

Daley also states in the article that “musculoskeletal injuries are a primary reason healthcare workers leave direct patient care, adding that often healthcare workers don’t get injured by a single event” and that “most injuries are the result of the cumulative effect of lifting heavy loads day in and day out for years, which can lead to long-term disorders and disability.”

Perhaps shockingly, nursing assistants were the number one occupation for “musculoskeletal disorder-related on-the-job injuries or illnesses that require missed days from work,” according to the article and a 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The profession topped the list over such trades as janitors, truckers, and laborers.

These kinds of statistics make clear that doing whatever necessary to ensure nurse safety is not only the right thing to do for staff and patients, but also that — despite the sticker shock of upfront costs — it will be less expensive in the long-run to make your hospital safe for nurses.

So, how safe is your hospital? What steps does your facility take to make your hospital safe for nurses?


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Laws Mandating Nurse Staffing

Nurse Glasses Laws Mandating Nurse StaffingA bill currently going through the paces in the New York state legislature would put in place laws mandating nurse staffing that would require specific staffing ratios.

According to an Associated Press article, it seems that the debate over the bill is causing a bit of a split between nurses and hospitals.

The New York State Nurses Association backs the bill saying that “members at 57 unionized hospitals last year filed 19,292 separate protests of staffing assignments they considered unsafe.” Those in favor of laws mandating nurse staffing believe that requiring one nurse for every two ICU patients and 1-to-4 ratios in medical-surgical units will improve patient experience and care while decreasing deaths and re-admissions. Proponents also believe complaints will plummet and that hospitals will be just fine financially.

On the other hand, New York’s hospitals are against the bill saying it would hinder their ability to be flexible with staff scheduling and that it would cost facilities and nursing homes approximately $3 billion annually. Many facilities believe they can self-police and move staff around as needed to maintain quality patient care. This camp believes service will actually suffer as a result of such legislation because due to the anticipated financial stress services will actually suffer too.

If the bill is successful it would be the second such set of laws mandating nurse staffing. In 1999 California passed legislation setting mandatory nurse staff ratios — although the laws were not implemented until 2004. Both opponents and advocates of the bill use California’s experience to defend their position.

The AP article cites a 2002 study from the Journal of American Medical Association which found that “hospitals with high patient-to-nurse ratios had higher death rates among surgical patients and nursing staff more likely to experience burnout. The study of more than 10,000 nurses and 230,000 patients found that with each additional patient assigned to a nurse, the likelihood of dying within 30 days after admission rose 7 percent.”

But, as Brian Conway, of the Greater New York Hospital Association told the AP the bill would actually work against its own goals costing money, draining resources, and resulting in less support staff.

How do you think laws mandating nurse staffing in your state would affect patient care and finances/resources in your facility?


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Nurse Staffing Policies

Thumbs Up Clock Guy Nurse Staffing PoliciesRefining your facility’s nurse staffing policies can have a resounding positive effect. With strategic staffing policies you have the benefit of happier nurses (less burnout and turnover!) and as a result the ability to achieve a healthier financial bottom line. A big trend in business is companies establishing better use of their resources, something the healthcare industry can greatly benefit from as well.

A recent article, “Revamp Nurse Staffing Policies and Cut Costs,” published at Health Leaders Media, discusses some of the key benefits of re-evaluating your nurse staffing policies and also details some of the helpful changes put into place by the WellStar Health System, which is based in Marietta, Georgia.

The crux of the changes made at WellStar had to do with making sure nurses were working their full set of hours but not regularly exceeding them. Some nurses were cutting shifts short and others were routinely working too many hours. An hour shaved off of a shift here and there can really eat into costs as well as throw the rest of the staff’s rhythm. And on the other hand, of course, nurses working too much overtime can lead directly to burnout. In the words of Goldilocks, they wanted the hours to be juuuuust right — no more, no less. Achieving this balance is instrumental to staff satisfaction.

As discussed in the article, many facilities have begun using scheduling software, which allows administrators to drill down and really get a clear picture of their staffing realities, in order to determine strong and weak areas, what’s working, what’s not, and most importantly why. Once that’s clear, streamlining policies, standardizing shift times, and holding staff accountable can have a big impact when it comes to cutting costs. Communicating any changes in nurse staffing policies to your staff in a direct and positive way is key to making the changes stick and achieving your objective of a happy, efficient, cost-effective workforce.


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MSPs – What they are and why they might be beneficial to you

An MSP is basically a business partner that staffs your hospital for you. They take over your short-term contract staffing so your perm staff can focus on what’s most important…quality and patient care. A good MSP should share your values and goals, which in turn, should lead your facility to greater success.

Some benefits of an MSP include:

  • Reduction of time spent dealing with various other agencies, allowing your operation to run more efficiently without interruption. Single point of contact.
  • Custom tracking and reporting.
  • Minimize time spent in pre-screening & hiring.
  • Eliminate costs for advertising and benefits.
  • Dedicated Compliance Manager to manage protocol and
  • paperwork.
  • Drastically reduce costs associated with turnover, improve quality of patient care and decrease nurse-to-patient ratios.


To learn more about Medical Solutions Managed Service Provider (MSP) click here.


Do you think MSPs are a good idea?


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