As someone who works with healthcare facilities to help them solve their staffing challenges, I'm often presented with misconceived notions or problems as to why facilities steer clear of hiring travel nurses. Some of the facilitiy leaders I have spoken with who are responsible for staffing are under the impression that hiring travelers is too expensive. While the subject of cost vs. benefit will be discussed in detail in a future article, I've found that most facility staffing departments are unaware of the exemplary benefits derived from hiring travelers – benefits that can save time and money in the long run. Here are my top reasons for hiring a traveler the next time you are in a scheduling pinch.
Most Travelers Hit the Ground Running
I’m no stranger to the complexities of hiring a brand-new staff nurse for a nursing position. Some staff nurses will need to be assigned a preceptor. As you probably know, depending on the specialty, that new RN may need to be supervised directly for months. I can only imagine the headache many unit managers and staffing managers endure while this is taking place. While I support excellent training programs, the nature of this training is very much compared to paying two people to do one person’s work and doesn’t solve the staffing problem in the short term. It also does not bode well for a census fluctuation as the new hires are not able to work independently. This is where a traveler fits in well.
In the healthcare industry, a traveler is expected to arrive at a hospital and hit the ground running with minimal orientation.
Travelers are conditioned to adapt to their surroundings quickly. Experienced travelers are lifesavers for unit managers desperately needing extra staff on the floor of a busy unit.
To accomplish this goal, we highly recommend hiring a traveler before you hit a peak season in census, or when you know you’ll be short staffed due to illnesses, leaves of absence, or retirements. RN travelers will make an impact on your unit and help you while you are trying to staff your unit for the long term with permanent staff.
Flat Rate Pricing
One of the best aspects about hiring travelers is the cost over time. Travel nurses work for medical staffing agencies, so while you will pay a premium for hiring a traveler, you will not be paying for that nurse’s benefits, health insurance, malpractice insurance, workers compensation insurance, reimbursements, medical certifications, tuition reimbursements and much more. It has been noted in studies that travel nurses are more cost effective in many cases than hiring a staff nurse partly due to the structure of pricing.
Also, because of employment structure, responsibility of malpractice or workers compensation injuries may be less for the facility, as the agency is the traveler’s legal employer. Over time this reduces the legal risk to the facility, which can ultimately save your organization millions!
Diversified Patient Care
Every hospital has its own needs when it comes to meeting patient care goals. A unique aspect of the travel nurse industry is the diversity of patient care you get from travelers. What do I mean by this? It’s common for many facilities to receive travelers that have worked at the busiest and most prestigious facilities in the nation. Travelers are an often untapped wealth of information and excellent resources for alternative processes and procedures because of their experience treating patients at other facilities. In many cases, travelers have become mentors to junior nurses just starting out in their career. How beneficial would it be to work with travelers who have experiencer working for the many ivy league health systems in the country? Just think of the wealth of knowledge that will be available to you immediately upon hiring a traveler!
This aspect of travel nursing cannot be more needed in today’s nursing market. This industry is built on the ability of travelers to meet the scheduling needs of the facility and that has a huge impact on the delivery of healthcare. Travelers are there to solve your scheduling problems. They’re your heroes for filling in the blank spots in the schedule after the staff nurses have been assigned. Whether you need night shift, day shift, evenings, or variable scheduling, hiring a traveler brings the added benefit of peace of mind knowing you will be able to staff the correct number of nurses for your unit for any given census situation. It’s really a no brainer!
Cyclical/Seasonal Staffing Needs
In many cases across the country, facilities are experiencing seasonal changes in their census. This is due, in part, to the weather and the massive migration of people from northern states to warmer climates during the winter months. We see this change every year. Other factors contribute to a seasonal census change besides the weather and can vary from facility to facility. Whatever pattern you see year after year, it can be solved by using travel nurses. Most changes in census can last anywhere from 2-3 months depending on regional factors. This makes the travel nurse the perfect choice for maintaining a staffing readiness level that Is appropriate for your region and hospital.
This industry is built on the ability of travelers to meet the scheduling needs of the facility and that has a huge impact on the delivery of healthcare.
Patient Satisfaction Scores Increase Due to Continuity of Care
My final reason in advocating for travel nurse utilization is a patient-centered one. Travel nurses directly contribute to maintaining continuity of care. When per diem solutions are utilized or overtime is common, we see that patients are being cared for by many different nurses every day. The care received over time is adversely affected. The long-term assessment skills for a patient are diminished, because that RN is not able to evaluate the patient’s condition over time (days). This is very true for medical-surgical floors as nurses utilize a very specific and effective form of visual assessment with the patient over time to determine overall health and healing. When we maintain continuity of care, we can eliminate a coverage nurse from the equation, giving the patient a better care experience. Ultimately, we know that patient satisfaction scores increase when we see a personal relationship being created and maintained by a dedicated team of care staff.
No matter what your reasons are for needing to temporarily increase your staffing levels, travel nurses are ready to start day and are willing to share their expertise. That can have a tremendous positive impact on patient care and the bottom line.
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