Chief Clinical Officer
One way to combat the nursing shortage: Keep older nurses from retiring. Peggy Reiley discusses Scottsdale Healthcare's efforts:
Reiley: There are nurses who would not leave bedside nursing for anything, despite their age. Others want to transition to something like case management, which is less physically demanding.
We put in place support positions like lift teams to assist nurses in lifting and turning patients. We have nurses in our ICUs in their 70s. The second thing is enhanced flexibility. These are nurses who sometimes are not able to work a 12-hour shift. We created roles called an admission nurse where all they are doing is interviewing patients and maybe starting an IV. We have documentation specialists who can help physicians document and will query if the documentation isn't correct.
With the economy today, we are going to be looking at how we bridge people to retirement. We have seasonal nurses; they can work seven months out of the year and still receive full benefits. It works well for us because we tend to have less volume in the summers.
It's really trying to manage that physical component for the older nurse. That is the real challenge everyone in healthcare has to look at, because with the economy we are going to have nurses wanting to stay in the work force longer.