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How to Cut Overreliance on Contract Nurses

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, July 1, 2014

The Solution
The first step, she says, was to hire a daytime house supervisor to take the staffing pressure off of the unit directors. They also hired round-the-clock team lead positions, increasing the number from one per floor to three or four per department.

Next, they realigned the leadership of the units so the critical care and post-critical care units were under one director and the medical-surgical and orthopedic medical-surgical units were under another. These units were made partner units.

"The goal was to align the competencies of the nurses," McNitt says.

Realigning the units also helped realign staff. No one wanted to "float." Instead, nurses were cross-trained for both of the partner units. In addition, all new hires come onboard with the understanding that they'll be trained for and work on both partner units.

"[It is] expected that they will go equally to both units," McNitt says, which eliminates the "floating" mentality.

Another way that the floating mentality has been changed is through the name itself. Mercy Hospital not only substantially beefed up its float pool—from six to 60 nurses—but has also renamed it the "resource team." The hospital recruits to fill the resource team specifically, and has even hired some nurses from within the hospital's core staff.

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1 comments on "How to Cut Overreliance on Contract Nurses"


Mark Graban (7/2/2014 at 12:39 PM)
The description of "lean" staffing levels (being understaffed) should not be confused with the "Lean" management system that's based on Toyota and has been used in health systems around the world. A "Lean Healthcare" model would ensure the RIGHT level of staffing that best meets patient needs while being fiscally responsible of the organization [INVALID] not too little staffing and not too much staffing.