Staffing...............The age old problem...........
First of all, I totally agree with all the comments of llg.
I have recently had more of a problem with last minute staffing problems and had to get some things in place so that we had options when they occur. As it was, my nurse manager and I were all too frequently having to work as staff (for free) when call-ins happened and we decided that we were not going to be the 2 person voluntary staffing agency. It is much better now that we fixed some things. Here's what we did, hope some of these will help you out:
1. First we analyzed the staffing schedule and looked for imbalances in the number and skill mix of staff. We found major imbalances with fewer staff scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (imagine that). So we corrected that first.
2. We took the PRNs who had not worked for us in a long time off our PRN roster and hired some new PRNs who could give us some hours.
3. We reviewed the attendance policy with our HR folks to make sure it was what we needed it to be. As it turned out, we did not need to change the policy but simply enforce it TO THE LETTER. There were several staff who were absent more often than not and we had to deal with them to get their attendance improved and to quit demoralizing those who had good attendance.
4. When we were in a situation were we had many open RN positions, we offered an incentive program whereby we paid the staff extra money for coming in and working shifts with critical shortages. RNs got an extra $100 for 12 hours, LPNs got $75 for 12 hours, and techs got $50 for 12 hours. If they called in during the same week, they forfeited the incentive pay (so they could not game the system). Of course if they qualified for OT then they got that too plus any shift diff. they would normally get. We would only approve incentive shifts on a posted list about a day or two ahead of time when we had already tried to cover it and had no luck.
5. Of course, we continued our recruiting efforts and implemented a $5,000 recruiting incentive for our staff who recruited a FT RN for us. This was extremely successful and did not cost more than the money we were spending on newspaper ads already.
6. Lastly, I'm just now implementing a weekend incentive position so that I have nurses who work only weekends (kinda similar to Baylor positions).
Something else you might want to consider is having nurses write your newspaper ads. We used to have our HR folks doing it and we never got any response. No offense to them, they're great, but they don't think like nurses. I wrote the ads with bullet points in them outlining what we have to offer a nurse that is better than the competition. We consistently get responses now.
You may want to consider an on-call program too.
Hope some of these ideas help.