94% of health execs say nurse shortage is 'critical'

Among 100 health system senior executives, 94 said the nursing shortage is critical, and 68 percent said they do not have enough staff for another large-scale health crisis.

Incredible Health surveyed 100 health system leaders and found a disconnect between what hospital nurses want and what their employers are offering. Executives reported 80 percent of younger nurses asking for flexible scheduling, but only 11 percent of the respondents said they offer it. More nurses are also asking for career advancement training, but many systems are not prioritizing these programs. 

The leaders said they are working to tweak nurse hiring and retention methods, with the top three strategies being sign-on bonuses (35 percent), nurse salary increases (26 percent) and refining patient-to-staff ratios (16 percent). 

In a March report, Incredible Health found only 1 in 3 nurses feel fairly compensated. 

To alleviate the nursing shortage, numerous health systems are utilizing travel nurses — with many reporting that temporary nurses account for a quarter of their staff — but nearly all said they want to instill more permanent nurse hires. 

"Temporary staff significantly impacts the health system's bottom line with high costs, as well as a negative impact on the quality of patient care and culture in nursing units," Incredible Health said in its report. 

Another issue is experience, as 40 percent of executives said more than a quarter of nurses at their health system have less than one year of experience. For average tenure, 53 percent of nurses had less than five years at their company.

The survey also found generational friction among nurses: 

  • Compensation demands: 78 percent of younger nurses request increases versus 48 percent of older nurses

  • Specialized roles: 54 percent of younger nurses seek specialized roles versus 14 percent of older nurses

  • Career advancement opportunities: 74 percent of younger nurses ask for these opportunities versus 8 percent of older nurses

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