A major concern in healthcare today is the nursing shortage, which promises to get worse as the number of people choosing this profession declines while demand for their services continues to grow.
During my career as a registered nurse, I experienced the lifestyle of these caregivers. While nursing is very rewarding, it comes with struggles: long hours, unexpected overtime, and erratic schedules. This can make nurses' lives emotionally and physically draining.
If we could normalize nursing schedules, not only could we make their lives a little less stressful, we could maximize staffing efficiency for providers, lower their personnel costs, and perhaps contribute to the long-term viability of this important profession.
Here are some of the steps to take to improve conditions for nurses:
Every healthcare organization should step back and evaluate the scheduling process for nurses. While this may seem like a small issue on the surface, it can have a serious effect on a company's bottom line. The largest expenditure for a hospital is its nurses. While it is expected that the nursing staff will naturally have some overtime, approximately 2%-3% of the budget, most hospitals are experiencing unnecessarily high overtime, around 6%-8% of the budget. By harnessing this overspending, a hospital can save a significant amount of money, and free funds to be reinvested into patient care, equipment to improve overall care and efficiency, or other strategic projects.
The potential to provide a safer patient experience is reason enough to pursue the goal of a more balanced scheduling approach, but the additional opportunity to take care of precious and scarce human and financial resources drives the issue to the forefront. We have an opportunity to make a very positive impact on all involved by managing our staff scheduling process better.