4 ways hospitals are filling short-term nursing gaps

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Hospitals in the U.S. are implementing an array of strategies to fill workforce needs amid nursing shortfalls exacerbated by the latest COVID-19 surge.

Here are four strategies being used, per the Association of American Medical Colleges.

1. Nonclinical employees stepping in to provide relief for clinical staff. Nonclinical employees are assisting with patient care and other tasks. At Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, and at UAB Medicine in Birmingham, Ala., for example, staff can sign up to perform duties outside of their regular work hours, based on their skill sets, such as delivering meals, transporting patients through the hospital, providing bedside care and assisting patients with discharge.

2. Educators and students filling needs. Educators, as well as medical, nursing and pharmacy students, are working to relieve staffing strain. This may include nursing school faculty helping to fill nursing gaps, or a student delivering bed linens.

3. Recruiting. Many hospitals and health systems are offering incentives such as sign-on bonuses and referring bonuses to attract nurses. One system, Rapid City, S.D.-based Monument Health, is offering experienced nurses up to $40,000 in sign-on bonuses. The bonuses, which come with a two-year commitment, are for experienced nurses in both surgical services and the intensive care unit. Monument Health also is offering up to $40,000 in sign-on bonuses to cardiovascular surgery techs.

4. Retaining. To retain nurses, some healthcare organizations are raising pay. UAMS Medical Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, for example, is offering $10,000 retention bonuses to nurses who have been at UAMS at least three years and work in certain high-need units, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

To view the full Association of American Medical Colleges report on nursing shortages, click here

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