Why HCA nurses are working from home

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare is increasingly hiring nurses to work from home.

The nation's largest health system — and largest employer of nurses — now has virtual nurses beaming into 15 hospitals, many from the comfort of their homes.

While some health systems are building centralized command centers to house their virtual nursing staff, HCA is moving in the opposite direction.

"Brick and mortar cost a lot of money," HCA Chief Nursing Informatics Officer Sherri Hess, BSN, RN, told Becker's. "I think the future is working at home."

HCA now has about 40 virtual nurses working from home — with more to come.

Several months back, HCA posted six job openings for remote virtual nurses, Ms. Hess said. HCA stopped taking applications about a day later after receiving close to 100 of them. By the time Ms. Hess shared the job ads on her LinkedIn, they were already closed.

A virtual nurse work-from-home position posted April 4 had over 100 applicants in the first 18 hours.

With remote work, HCA has hired nurses who moved away from their hospitals or needed more flexibility for family reasons (they don't have to work the typical 12-hour nursing shifts). The at-home nurses are required to perform their duties in a locked room for privacy.

Many nurses have told Ms. Hess they prefer working from home. She said sitting on a computer at a command center is "almost more daunting than being up and moving around."

"You may think, 'Well, they'd rather not be at the bedside.' But think about sitting in a chair in front of screens, like a lot of us do," she said.

And for 12-hour shifts, at that.

Remote work also allows HCA to hire nurses licensed to practice in multiple states, an advantage because the health system has hospitals across the nation.

"One of the things we create is that career of a lifetime. A nurse should never have to leave HCA," Ms. Hess said. "Because we are in 19 states. We have 117,000 nurses enterprisewide with 95,000 hospital nurses."

Including, now, an increasing number working from home.

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