Executive Summary: There are three popular options to save on hiring nurses: non-licensed workers, contract labor, and international nurses.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the nursing employment rate will increase by 15 percent over the next eight years. This is much faster than the average rate of increase for all other occupations, but great news in the wake of an ongoing nursing shortage.
Concurrently, nurse salaries are rising with demand. The average gross salary for RN’s was $68,450 in 2016 with variability depending on where the nurse was employed. Wages for RN’s have risen by 9.2 percent over the past three years per Compensation Data Healthcare.
So how can hospital administration control cost while ensuring they have enough staff? Because of declining nurse availability and rising costs, how can decision-makers strengthen their facility to accommodate their community?
What Will You Do When You Have More Beds Filled Than Nurses?
One option is more overtime. But the consequences for a stretched unit that’s already short-staffed may not be worth the benefit. Nurse burnout and short-staffed units have been linked to poorer patient outcomes in numerous studies.
In fact, a lack of nurses increases the risk of nosocomial infections, cardiac arrest, and death due to inadequate surgical monitoring. RN’s are vital personnel because they can detect patient problems early and intervene in a timely fashion.
But when you consider the cost, hiring a bunch of full-time nurses at once isn’t very realistic. Yet there are three main strategies you can take to address the cost of hiring full-time nurses in lieu of more overtime. To fill nursing gaps while controlling the cost-per-case, hospital administration can:
- Hire non-licensed staff to fill in the gaps
- Use contract labor in the interim
- Hire international nurses that convert to full-time employees
We’ll discuss each option in greater detail below.
Hire More Non-Licensed Personnel
Some facilities have increased their non-licensed staff to fill the gap. Nurse assistants can provide outstanding care, but there is a growing concern that nurse assistants will be required to take on more patient care in the future. This can unfortunately still result in poorer patient outcomes, as the difference between BSN nurses and non-licensed staff is quite tangible.
That’s per a 2014 academic study on nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes. From the abstract:
An increase in a nurses’ workload by one patient increased the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission by 7%, and every 10% increase in bachelor’s degree nurses was associated with a decrease in this likelihood by 7%.
So it’s important to be mindful of patient levels before considering more non-licensed personnel.
Utilize Contract Labor
Contract labor is an easy way to plug holes. While travel nurses won’t save you a lot of money up front, contract labor is a flexible staffing option. You obviously need nurses when your beds are full, but what about when they aren’t? With contract labor, you can reduce staff immediately.
Travel nurses are obviously still widely utilized today. But they’re a band-aid solution. With contracts that last 13 weeks at time, relying solely on contract labor can create a massive turnover rate and could disrupt the continuation of care.
Hire International Nurses
The last option, the international nurse, is becoming a more popular staffing solution. International nurses have long been shrouded in myth, but substantial feedback from hospital leaders has brought the truth to light.
Nurses from countries like the Philippines must pass rigorous English language exams and a nursing curriculum that mirrors the US’ own, ensuring they fit right in.
International nurses arrive as BSN nurses on contracts that can last up to three years. Furthermore, some international staffing agencies boast high full-time conversion rates, which means a long-term solution to your nursing vacancies.
The reality is that you have options. Hiring non-licensed workers, contract labor, or international nurses are the most popular ways to endure the nursing shortage, especially in lieu of costly overtime that can have negatively affect your patients.
If your healthcare organization is interested in learning more about the benefits of hiring international nurses, click the button below.
Executive Summary: There are three popular options to save on hiring nurses: non-licensed workers, contract labor, and international nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the nursing employment rate will increase by 15 percent over the next eight...