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Temporary Nurses Are a Stopgap Solution

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, July 8, 2013

The small volume of qualified, experienced nurses Scott & White was finding presented a challenge common to most healthcare systems. Although recent graduates and interns applied in decent numbers, they didn't have the two to three years of experience S&W needed for the complexity or acuity of patients they treat, says Minnis. From locums to per diems to travelling staff, contracted nurses come with a premium, not to mention the administrative costs of organizing all of the service contracts.

A little over a year ago, S&W stopped hiring traveling nurses and began hiring and training recent graduates as permanent employees. Although Minnis says he still doesn't feel that the organization has "arrived" at an ideal recruiting/retention solution, he considers the shift away from relying on travelers "a success story."

"I would point to the literally millions of dollars shaved off the bottom line that resulted from getting contracted labor shaved off the organization," says Minnis.

Some of that money saved has been invested back into the nursing workforce future. The human resources department and nurse leaders went on a campaign to bring on nurse interns and recent graduates during the summer and in January, so that they could train with residents and fellows and see the benefits to working full-time at Scott & White. A few weeks ago S&W hired more than 150 recent nurse graduates, and expects another 100 in the next month.

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