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Dallas: Flexibility is key to handling shortages--another staffing 'Wonder Program"

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NRSKarenRN has 40 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

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from the august 2, 2002 print edition

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dallas business journal

flexibility is key to handling shortages

matching nursing supply with variable demand helps spread resources more effectively

lisa tanner staff writer

greater metroplex-a shortage of clinicians, particularly nurses, has prompted area hospitals to take a closer look at how they schedule staff.

like most businesses, hospitals are striving to do more with less....

..."some have had success, but the whole system of clinical staffing needs to be looked at," eng said.

to help make the most effective use of scarce nursing resources, most health facilities have instituted flexible systems....

full story:

http://www.bizjournals.com/industries/health_care/hospitals/2002/08/05/dallas_focus2.html

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UKRNinUSA has 25 years experience as a RN and specializes in burn, geriatric, rehab, wound care, ER.

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I worked in a facility fairly recently where a consulting company was hired at a considerable price to devise a new acuity system. They studied the workload of the nurses over several weeks and came up with a new and improved system. Unfortunately for the hospital administration it almost doubled the number of nurses per shift, compared with the old system. Unfortunately for the nurses and the patients the new system was scrapped (just too expensive). The facility continues to have a high staff turnover and severe recruitment problems - which costs them even more . Why can't these people make the connection that improving working conditions/staffing levels for nurses will save the organization money in the long run and reverse the nursing shortage ?

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Just a few thoughts. Yes, you can see trends in census and acuities, but no one can predict the day to day or hour to hour changes. In smaller units this is especially true where two sick admissions can mean major staffing changes. Never forget the night when at shift change an OB patient walked in complete with 28 week twins. Nicu and OB were scrambling for beds and staff!

Our hospital has tried to vigorously overstaff if census drops, but then changes in middle of shift make you wish you had never sent the person home overstaff.

When I was hired I understood that I was working 40 hour week and being paid for that. Have seen several people have hours cut quite a bit and running out of days off pay to cover. Most people plan their budget based on expected take home pay.

The theory is good, but things change too fast in hospital setting. Patients are too unpredictable!!

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I think this is just what people here are talking about when they write about the, "staffing according to the warm body" theory. Look for more of the same.

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