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Analysis

3 Strategies for Managing Staffing Shortages

By Lena J. Weiner  
   August 29, 2016

High patient volumes, an aging staff, and healthcare workers' growing demands for flexibility can be surmounted with a few strategic management moves.

Healthcare continues to grow to the tune of expected job growth of 2.3 million new jobs between 2014 and 2024, but there's a downside to that growth, says Susan Salka, CEO and president of AMN Healthcare, a healthcare staffing company based in San Diego, CA.

"Many organizations are at the highest vacancy and attrition rates ever seen," says Salka.

SSM Health, a St. Louis, Missouri-based health system with 20 hospitals in four states, is scrambling to meet these challenges, says Kathy Starnes, SSM Health's system manager of staffing.

"We've been pretty busy," she says.

Through careful recruitment, retention, training, and planning SSM Health has to not only remain competitive, but to continue growing.

These efforts have helped the health system avoid or minimize three causes of staffing gaps:

1. More Patients Seeking Care

"This all started about two years ago, with a surge in volume we thought was temporary," says Starnes.

The increase in patient volume came as a shock to Starnes and her colleagues.

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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