New York Times Examines Hospital Strategies for Addressing Nursing Shortage
The New York Times on Tuesday examined strategies that hospitals are using to reduce their nurse vacancy rates, which some experts predict will worsen in the next 10 to 20 years. To address "basic problems" that can cause nurse dissatisfaction, some hospitals have begun to end mandatory overtime, increase nurse involvement in decisions, become more receptive to nurse issues and reduce paper and nonclinical work. Other hospitals are "surpassing the creative" in their methods to address the nurse shortage, including online auctions for shifts, use of robots for some nurse duties, flexible scheduling and concierge services, the Times reports. For example, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation this month introduced a "mom shift" in an attempt to attract nurses who have left the field. The program, which has attracted 40 nurses to date, allows nurses to work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a partnership with a child care center. San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, Calif., has launched a concierge service that provides nurses with services such as mail and package delivery, dry cleaning and DVD rentals. Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System in South Carolina has introduced an online auction for nursing shifts, and more than 100 hospitals nationwide use robots to deliver medication, meals, lab specimens, supplies, medical records and radiology reports internally. In addition, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore offers to pay half of the tuition to any college for nurses' children. According to the American Hospital Association, there is a 13% vacancy rate for nursing positions nationwide, and some experts expect the rate to increase to 20% by 2015 (Tarkan, New York Times, 1/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.