How technology can place nurses in positions they won’t want to quit
According to researchers at Georgetown University, the United States is facing an imminent nursing shortage, predicted to reach a deficit of 92,810 registered nurses (RNs) by the year 2020. However, the U.S. Health Resources Services Division forecasted a surplus of 340,000 nurses by the year 2025. With such contradictory predictions, how do you plan accordingly for both?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2012-2022 released in December 2013, nursing is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022, an increase of 526,800 or 19 percent. The Bureau also projects the need for 525,000 replacement nurses in the workforce, bringing the total number of job openings to 1.05 million by 2022.
The U.S. healthcare industry has been faced with a nursing deficit of varying degrees for more than a decade. So what are the drivers behind this issue, and what can be done to turn it around?
Healthcare providers are facing an aging population, an increase in the number of people living with chronic diseases and co-morbidities, and at the same time facing an aging nursing workforce. This is not to mention the limited ability of nursing programs to produce enough nurses to match the number of upcoming retirees. This combination will have a direct impact on the number of nurses that healthcare providers will be able to recruit, and ultimately, will have an effect on the quality of patient care.
Although 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce in the U.S., nursing is still currently one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Today, there are more Americans over the age of 65 than at any other time in U.S. history. The number of baby boomers entering the healthcare system will be at an all-time high within the next 10 to 15 years. As we face an aging population, the need for healthcare services will only continue to increase as well. So what can healthcare providers do so that we can maintain our nursing workforce?
Healthcare organizations must take proactive steps to increase the number of qualified nurses available to care for patients. Some thoughts to consider are:
- Talent acquisition that focuses on matching the best candidate for a specific role. By utilizing talent acquisition technologies, providers are able to compare multiple roles across the organization to find, recruit and retain top talent within that specific role.
- Provide the tools for improved communication among providers and within the four walls of the hospital.
- Better communications tools will decrease nurses’ stress levels, and in turn, increase the rate of retention.
- Recruit and retain nurses into your organization who are the best cultural fit to not only the overall organization, but specifically to the department in which they will be assigned.
- Staff departments according to the individual and unique needs of the patient. Studies have proven that nurses’ job satisfaction increases when they are staffed according to patient needs.
Organizations have the responsibility to make meaningful use of available healthcare technology.
Currently, a multitude of advanced technology, specifically in IT, provides opportunities to leverage that technology to enhance the efficiency, cost effectiveness and quality of healthcare delivered. Healthcare information technology continues to drive toward solutions that satisfy our need to improve quality of care while reducing costs in the ever-changing healthcare environment.
The focus of healthcare organizations should not be on whether there is a shortage in the workforce or not. The focus should be on increasing nursing and patient satisfaction, the reduction of turnover of nurses, and facilitating the process of getting nurses back to the bedside in order to provide excellence in patient care. The goal of hospital organizations is to support the mission of best utilizing the numbers of well-trained and qualified nurses relative to individual needs of their patients. The ability to better manage their current workforce will allow hospitals everywhere to accomplish better outcomes for both nurses and patients.