How would you like 3 consecutive months off a year?

  1. I read an article "Children's Hospital Offers Nurses Summers Off."

    I figured it'd be a good discussion for here and would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this!!

    The article states, "Having a full three months off during the summer is the stuff of legends, but it may be the new norm with nurses if a pilot program yields positive results. Starting next summer, Mercy Children's Hospital in St. Louis Missouri, will allow nurses in their pediatric unit to take the summer off. They hope that the time off will decrease turnover rates, combat burnout, and help better balance staffing during the slower summer months."

    The article describes plan details, how they hope it will prevent turnover, and how they hope it will create higher nurse retention. The plan is to have nurses work 3 shifts/wk September - May. Then, during the summer, they will get full-time benefits and a bi-monthly stipend to cover the cost of insurance, they can use any accrued time off to cover living costs, and they can still pick up shifts.

    The article states that since kids don't get sick as much during the summer, making less demand for nurses, the peds unit is the perfect area to test out this program.

    The article says that the hope of this program is to help fight the high rates of turnover that are contributing to the nursing shortage. It states that a large part of the problem is with nursing being so demanding, it can be hard to get a balance with work and life. It is also really stressful, causing nurses to quickly burn out.

    The article goes on to state that one of the biggest priorities of the newer generations is a balance between work and life. This program will allow schedules that address that priority for new and future nurses.

    Peds nurses at this hospital will start signing up for this program in September and have their first summer off next year. If the program produces good results and nurses are more satisfied with work, they will then be looking for ways to start up similar programs in other units. Hospitals across the country are waiting to see how this program turns out and how nurses like it. If it goes well, it could lead to nurses being one of the few professions that offer extended vacations!

    Source: Children's Hospital Offers Nurses Summers Off

    My Thoughts
    Having 3 months off sounds great! It seems like it could definitely help. So, during the summer, you get full-time benefits and you geta "bi-monthly stipend to cover the cost of insurance." So, you are stillgetting your benefits, but you only get paid to cover the cost of insurance. Formost people, not getting paid for 3 months seems impossible. If you are single or a single parent or even if you're married but depend on 2 pay checks, taking those 3 months off might mean that you would have to get another job during that time to have a paycheck coming in. That seems MORE stressful to me! I don want to have to worry about not having enough money for 3 months or finding another job for 3 months!

    "They could also use any accrued time off to cover living costs." Okay, so that helps. Accuring paid time off and using that to cover the living costs of the 3 months would definitely help.

    "They would still be able to pick up shifts at the hospital."I think this kind of defeats the purpose of giving the time off. I get that it wouldn't be as stressful as working full time and you could choose when you wanted to pick up shifts, but wouldn't the study measure things better if the people didn't work at the hospital at all during the 3 months? But, then again,as I said, it's not as stressful as working full time and being able to choose when you want to pick up shifts, as well as having a stipend to help pay for insurance and being able to accrue time off to cover living costs helps with the stress one would have of not working for 3 months. So, I'm not sure if being able to pick up shifts would help or hurt the study itself.

    "If the program yields positive results and better work satisfaction, the hospital will begin looking for ways to incorporate similar programs in other units. Hospitals across the country are also waiting to see if the program is a success and nurses enjoy the new schedule. If things gowell, nursing may be one of just a handful of professions that allow employees to enjoy an extended vacation." I'd be interested to see how they would institute such a program on other units. I get their reasoning as to why they are trying out the program in peds - "The pediatric unit is the perfect test location for the program since kids don't get sick as often during the summer months, which creates less of a demand for nurses. Illnesses pick up and spike during the fall and winter, but the need for medical staff simply isn't as high during the summer, making it the perfect time to reduce staffing and allow nurses to get some needed rest and relaxation." I just don't get how they would be able to reduce staffing in the same way on other units. I suppose they could have it in shifts, where on a unit, one group gets 3 months off at one point in the year, and then another group gets 3 months off at another point in the year. But, it seems like it would be too complicated and too many logistics for this to really take hold and be found in hospitals across the country.

    So, I don't know. I can definitely see how it would be helpful with burnout and turnover rates. However, I just don't see it being able to actually take hold and be found in hospitals across the country. It seems like it would be too much logistics for administration to take on. Why make it easier for us?

    Another article said that they have heard some nurses say they would stay home with their kids all summer, go to Six Flags, go to Italy. Thatis definitely in spirit of what it seems the time off is for. But heard another nurse say, "I'm going to go to California and be a nurse there for the summer."Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of taking the summer off? The article also said that the summers off "isn't only a good option for the nurses who want summer off. It's also a win for nurses who want to pick up more shifts in the summer, but with census so low, they wouldn't be able to if everyone was vying for those hours." Again, it seems to me by picking up more shifts in the summer than you would have otherwise would defeat the purpose of what the study is for. It's supposed to give you time off to reduce burnout and turnover rates,but if you're working more than you would have in that time if you weren't in the study, it seems to defeat the purpose.

    What do you guys think? Good idea? Bad idea? Do you think it will work? Do you think other units would be able to adopt a similar program?

    Other Articles:

    http://www.wtol.com/story/38499091/nursing-shortage-prompts-st-louis-hospital-to-offer-summers-off[/COLOR](where I got the information I said about the other article)

    These other articles pretty much say the same information as the original article I discussed and the other article with the link above, but I figured I'd provide them all anyways...

    https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/compensation-issues/st-louis-hospital-offers-nurses-summers-off-to-retain-staff.html

    http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/nursing-shortage-prompts-st-louis-childrens-hospital-offer-summers[/COLOR][/FONT]

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/flex-wo...ke-summers-off

    https://www.mercy.net/newsroom/2018-06-15/pediatric-seasonal-staffing-option--gives-nurses-summers-off


    Last edit by traumaRUs on Jul 9
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    About KrCmommy522, BSN

    Joined: Jul '14; Posts: 382; Likes: 268
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    13 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    I have had frequent periods of long term unemployment, as well as weeks here or there, shifts off here or there, working in extended care home health, where one has a job today, but not tomorrow. I can vouch for the fact that long term unemployment is not a desirable state of affairs. Annual raises in rent alone make that a very uncomfortable position to be in. And a secondary consequence: months or even years of steadier employment do not make up the shortfall as attested by my credit report. I think while this is a good idea in principle, it will not provide practical benefits. People will just find second gigs to make up the difference and get no rest whatsoever.
    Last edit by caliotter3 on Jul 9 : Reason: grammar
  4. by   meanmaryjean
    Having worked in a children's hospital for many years, I can tell you that the single reason I NEVER had any PTO accrued was because of summer low census. While I was ok (had a prn home care gig, no debt and an employed husband) many of my single parent coworkers left for this reason.

    I would have GLADLY taken summers off, picked up at my prn job and let the single parents have the full-time work.
  5. by   KelRN215
    When I worked in the hospital, I think some of the medical floors had a deal where their nurses could get the summers off but the deal was something like they worked 48 hrs/week through the winter and got paid for 32. They still got paid during the summer but it was hours that were owed to them/that they already worked.
  6. by   caliotter3
    Quote from KelRN215
    When I worked in the hospital, I think some of the medical floors had a deal where their nurses could get the summers off but the deal was something like they worked 48 hrs/week through the winter and got paid for 32. They still got paid during the summer but it was hours that were owed to them/that they already worked.
    Gee, I wonder what the Labor Board thought of this practice. At the least, they should have signed letters indicating agreement to defer their wages. Personally, I would have rather put the money in the bank.
  7. by   AJJKRN
    I wonder what teachers may think of this. I've definitely had a few retired teachers as patients that sort of ranted a bit about how much "more" nurses make but they didn't seem to take into account all of the "perks" teachers often have too...hmmm...
  8. by   KrCmommy522
    Quote from caliotter3
    I have had frequent periods of long term unemployment, as well as weeks here or there, shifts off here or there, working in extended care home health, where one has a job today, but not tomorrow. I can vouch for the fact that long term unemployment is not a desirable state of affairs. Annual raises in rent alone make that a very uncomfortable position to be in. And a secondary consequence: months or even years of steadier employment do not make up the shortfall as attested by my credit report. I think while this is a good idea in principle, it will not provide practical benefits. People will just find second gigs to make up the difference and get no rest whatsoever.
    That was my thinking too! I am a single mother and I couldn't take 3 months off. They offer a stipend but that's to pay for the insurance, so I'm sure it wouldn't leave much, if anything, left over. Then, they say you can pick up shifts if you want, but doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the program - to give nurses 3 months off to increase retention and decrease burn out? If you're picking up shifts during that time, then what is the purpose of the program? I suppose, they don't expect you to pick up as many shifts as you would normally be working during those 3 months, but without offering some kind of stipend to actually pay bills and live on, most would need to pick up the same amount of shifts or close to it!!

    I completely agree that it's a great idea in principle. I also agree that it won't provide any practical benefits because people will need to either pick up the same amount of shifts as they would of worked anyways, or find a second job to make up the difference - Getting absolutely no rest and defeating said purpose of the program!

    The only way it would maybe work is if they could provide a stipend to live off of, not just for insurance, and I do NOT see that happening ever!
  9. by   JKL33
    Quote from KrCmommy522
    Then, they say you can pick up shifts if you want, but doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the program - to give nurses 3 months off to increase retention and decrease burn out? If you're picking up shifts during that time, then what is the purpose of the program?
    That's how you know that isn't actually the purpose of the program.

    If census tanks every summer, the purpose of the program is to hire people under terms where that fact is understood and accepted, so that they don't expect to be paid a full wage during the summer.
  10. by   FloridaBeagle
    I worked at a hospital in FL that had low census in the summer because FL's population plummets in the summer. I was called off about once a week, sometimes TWICE a week (and I only worked 3 shifts a week!) I ran out of PTO quickly. I would have much preferred the option to take the summer off and work elsewhere for a travel assignment or something than try to make ends meet with such limited hours.

    Needless to say, I quit that job!
  11. by   KrCmommy522
    Quote from JKL33
    That's how you know that isn't actually the purpose of the program.

    If census tanks every summer, the purpose of the program is to hire people under terms where that fact is understood and accepted, so that they don't expect to be paid a full wage during the summer.
    Yep!! That makes a whole lot more sense than what they are trying to say the purpose is!!!
  12. by   KrCmommy522
    Quote from FloridaBeagle
    I worked at a hospital in FL that had low census in the summer because FL's population plummets in the summer. I was called off about once a week, sometimes TWICE a week (and I only worked 3 shifts a week!) I ran out of PTO quickly. I would have much preferred the option to take the summer off and work elsewhere for a travel assignment or something than try to make ends meet with such limited hours.

    Needless to say, I quit that job!
    Yes! If they said that they were doing this in the peds unit because of low census and giving people the chance to stay in their unit but work in the summer somewhere else, I would be all for that! But to say it's a chance to help with burn out...I don't see that!
  13. by   KelRN215
    Quote from caliotter3
    Gee, I wonder what the Labor Board thought of this practice. At the least, they should have signed letters indicating agreement to defer their wages. Personally, I would have rather put the money in the bank.
    This was a hospital that considered all RNs to be salaried, exempt employees. The nurses were considered to have 32 hr/week positions.
  14. by   macang44
    I would do this in a heartbeat!!!! I don't work in peds but we also have low census in the warmer months. We have nurses called off every shift and you have to use your paid time off which means many are short paid time off for their actual scheduled vacations. I would gladly put a little aside every month or pick up some OT in the busier winter months to sit aside for when I am off in the summer. I have been a single mother for many, many years. What I wouldn't have given to be able to spend more time with my kids when they were younger! They are now older teens and getting ready to leave the nest...... so long as you can budget well this could work I think.

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