Just what is being done to support our nurses in the workplace? Is there something more to the story that we are not hearing?
While attention has been focused on problems associated with the national nursing shortages, little has been said about the impact that the Medical Staffing Industry has had on the safe delivery of health care across the nation. This is an Industry that in the 1980s stepped in with Supplemental Staffing Services and began to offer and provide ever increasing alternative workforce solutions on a large scale. Today, where the shortages are most acute, Supplemental Staffing Services across the country are successfully recruiting, hiring, and placing highly qualified Registered Nurses, among other medical personnel, in responsible positions in hospitals, nursing homes, and other areas where there is a critical need. As a result, there is a direct positive measurable impact on patient survival rates. Why are we not hearing more about their contributions?
It can be argued that there are a number of reasons that the Medical Staffing Industry may not be receiving professional recognition. Admit it or not, there are certain walls of resistance coming from within the health care system itself. Some of the more identifiable walls include:
* The Health Care Facilities see Staffing Agencies as competitors to their nurse recruiting efforts and also see them as threats, much as unions, to their control of the nursing staff. A Facility is able to control, not only its scheduling practices, but also the nursing practices of its staff nurses while the nurses are direct employees of the Facility.
* The staff nurses often view agency nurses as competitors to their own job security and also see them, as threats, much as "strike breakers".
* The Human Resource Specialists in Health Care Facilities wish to enlarge their positions and protect their departments
* The Health Care System, made up largely of non-profits, is cumbersome and slow to accept and implement change often due to the complexity within the System.
* The Medical Staffing Industry itself is composed of hundreds of unrelated private corporations, large and small, which were developed out of the growing need for alternative workforce solutions and whose business practices vary accordingly. Many are now beginning to work together to establish "best practices".
The Medical Staffing Industry, by past performance, should be taken seriously and should be invited to deliberate with Professional Health Care Associations. The Industry has shown that:
* It can provide a ready supply of experienced and qualified staff to assist Facilities in their efforts to provide 24/7 nursing care, which is the core business of these Facilities.
* Employment with a Medical Staffing Agency is the choice made by some nurses who care enough about their profession to try to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.
* It has the ability to send one nurse into multiple Facilities and work settings maximizing the effectiveness of the nurse.
* Many nurses are kept in the workforce who might otherwise not be working. This type if employment provides flexible options for those who have personal, family or other time -constraints and must control the place of their assignment, the date, the shift, and the length of the assignment. They do not all fit into the usual Corporate Medical Model and choose to work outside of the establishment..
* It can show nurse competency by providing Facilities the opportunity to interview and examine the nurse profiles and credentials before granting assignments.
* It is in a position of matching critical "job orders" that come from Facilities with whom it contracts to the available nursing staff.
* It employs highly trained and certified Human Resource Specialists who use all the industry's resources to more fully understand and meet the staffing needs of the changing health care system.
* It employs nurses who have agreed to be available and can be depended on to provide the needed nursing services..
* It can bring staff relief to Facilities with the ultimate goal of raising and enhancing good patient outcomes.
* Where there are already too few nurses to deliver quality care and where nurses are required to work longer hours and take more patient assignments, it can provide staff relief that will reduce job stress, fatigue, and burnout as it increases job satisfaction among the regular in-house staff.
It would seem that given the record of successful staffing solutions that the Medical Staffing Industry has provided, we would see reporting on how this Industry has been able to influence the Health Care Delivery System.. There are Industry leaders who have entirely different perspectives of the nursing profession which they have gleaned from the stories that often come from nurses who have suffered from job stress, fatigue, burnout or abuse but have chosen to stay in the profession in the role of Supplemental Staff nurses rather than leave the profession. There is a wealth of knowledge that could be brought to the table if Industry leaders would be invited to participate in deliberations on the future of safe staffing and the delivery of health care. However, as if they are invisible, major leaders in this Industry have been excluded from discussions, and public/private debates that are happening in the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and working Committees at the local, state, and federal levels. The contributions that the Medical Staffing Industry have made appear to be one of health care's "best kept secrets".
by Jane Delveaux, RN
Last edit by Joe V on Apr 29, '10
: Reason: formatting for easier reading