When staffing your facility it is very important to make sure you have a good nurse to patient ratio, as studies have shown much better patient outcomes with appropriate ratios. This is an issue that bringing in Travel Nurses can help address, keeping your facility fully staffed and avoiding nurse burnout. But beyond simple numbers of staff, it is also important to consider the length and quality of your nurse staff’s experience.
A recent Health Leaders Media article discussed a study done by Patricia A. Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, Vice President of Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services at Boston Children’s Hospital, which links clinical experience and pediatric patient outcomes. The study was published in the December 2013 Journal of Nursing Administration, and concluded that, “A cut point of 20% RNs or greater with 2 years’ clinical experience or less was determined to significantly affect inpatient mortality.” Data for the study was collected from 38 children’s hospitals.
In a nutshell, the study confirmed that while nurse staffing numbers matter greatly, the experience and education levels of the staff also factor in. So, while some hospital administrations may view older/more experienced nurses as simply more expensive, Hickey tells HLM that actually they are “priceless” when it comes to achieving proper patient care. Hickey went on to tell HLM:
“There is nothing more expensive than turnover… [the hiring process] is far more expensive than the salary that you’re going to pay to a senior nurse, and all nurse leaders know that. I think we now, for the first time, have illustrated why nurses deserve the salaries that they get — because they are saving lives and they are rescuing patients from bad outcomes.”
But Hickey certainly doesn’t mean for her study to cast out brand new nurses; of course nurses must gain experience somehow and all experienced nurses were once new. She advises an active period of support and mentoring for them, meanwhile allowing them to make up no more than 20 percent of a unit’s staff.
The industry standard for Travel Nurses is 2 year clinical experience before they can travel — which, according to Hickey’s study — bodes very well for facilities that staff with Travel Nurses!