Retired Nurses Ease a Staffing Crunch, Bolster Budget

Rebecca Hendren, September 20, 2011

It installed staffing and scheduling software that allows nurses to view open shifts across the health system and pick up hours that are convenient for their schedule. In doing so, it eliminated the need for agency nurses, saving almost $2.5 million in the past two years, and increased its staff satisfaction.

But what is different about MidMichigan's efforts are that it has opened up its staffing and scheduling solution to include retired nurses.

The health system found it had a cadre of retired nurses who didn't want to entirely stop working, so it utilized the available talent to fill gaps in schedules, work on special projects, and generally improve the staffing situation across the whole system.

"We had a lot of retirees that took a retirement package we offered as a cost saving measure," says Tonia VanWieren, BSN, RN, director maternity unit/pediatrics, nursing office/shift administrator, MyTimeSelect/system staffing. "Then they wanted to come back to work because of the economy and different things in their lives."

The flexible scheduling doesn't affect retirement benefits. Retired nurses can pick up extra income in a way that is convenient to both the nurses and the system.

"There's lots of opportunity for them to come back at their convenience and on shifts that work for them," says VanWieren. "Those people have a lot of experience, a lot of things they can offer the younger people. And it helps us in a staffing crunch as we haven't had to utilize agencies. It helps cover those high-need areas or holes that might be out there to help meet our staffing goals."

Rebecca Hendren Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at
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