Since hospitals first started to admit patients, there has been a need for nursing agencies. Despite the sometimes negative tone that is used when discussing agencies, the need for their services remain. In the following paragraphs are five reasons that hospitals should consider when working with nursing agencies.
Quality Patient Care
Quality patient care is an extremely difficult goal to achieve these days. The primary reason is due to the nursing shortage and the difficulty that facilities face in recruiting quality staff. The rising costs of patient care and the shrinking rate of reimbursements do not help either. Agencies have been around for a long time, and the industry has grown under the watchful eye of the Joint Commission. Accreditation, credential, and standards have improved the staffing industry for the better. It is possible now to provide quality patient care in both the short and long terms. Nursing agencies make up the difference between meeting staffing ratios, and recruitment. One of the benefits of working with an agency is the availability of hard to find skill sets.
Daily and Seasonal Shortages
Nothing can ruin a balanced unit schedule like the flu. Whether that means sick calls or a higher than average influx of patients, care must still be provided. In places like California, compliance makes it mandatory that nursing ratios be followed. Local agencies can help fill the staffing deficits on a daily basis, or facilities can look to travel nursing agencies to fill seasonal holes in their schedule. Recruitment is always an option, but not always a successful endeavor.
It is highly unlikely that specialized talent will be recruited, especially in rural areas. This means that recruitment must be achieved on a national basis. Long term staffing needs can be filled using agency staff while recruitment continues. Another option may be to use the agency to recruit staff to fill long term staffing needs. Many agencies offer head hunting services that may be cheaper than using advertisements and job boards long term.
Talent – Hard To Find Skill Sets
The lack of specialized talent within the nursing industry has caused the federal government to create special need hospitals and districts to help identify areas with critical nursing shortages. Nurses with specialized skill sets are hard enough to find. When a hospital is located in a critical shortage area, the possibility of finding specialized talent is low. One of the best options to find specialized nurses is within agencies. This is also an opportunity for hospitals to think outside of the box. Because specialize nurses are hard to find, use them to meet critical nursing shortages and train existing staff. Usage may not need to be long term and the overall cost savings can make training extremely attractive. The critical nursing shortage is just another reason why hospitals need to work with nursing agencies.
The cost per hour of using an agency nurse can be high, but many times managers do not consider the costs that are usually saved by utilizing registry staff. Workers compensation is just one expense that is not paid by a hospital when they work with nursing agencies. Another set of costs that are not paid by the hospital is the employee wage tax. Further savings can be found by looking closer at costs that are associated with the hospitals own staff. An example would be the cost of benefits. While these costs may not offset the prices charged by agencies, they bring the cost of working with agency staff closer to the cost of using the hospitals own staff.
The argument over whether to use agency staff or utilize the facilities own staff has been long and loud at times. The reality is that almost every hospital needs staffing help from time to time, and some need help all the time regardless of their location or size. Take a good, hard look at costs, availability of talent, staffing deficits, and how effective recruitment has been, and then compare those answers to how effective, quality patient care standards are. The answers that you find to those questions will point to why hospitals should work with agencies.