6 strategies to address nursing shortages in the next 18 months

Healthcare leaders should focus on six main priority areas that could provide immediate relief to nursing workforce challenges in the next 12-18 months, the Nurses Staffing Think Tank said May 5.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, American Nurses Association, American Organization for Nursing Leadership, Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement created the think tank as part of a collaborative effort called Partners for Nurse Staffing.

Members of the think tank — including nursing and patient safety leaders, healthcare CEOs, CFOs and other stakeholders — met six times between January and March 2022 to identify the causes of nursing shortages, understand nurses' concerns and study the feasibility of various strategies, according to a news release.

The group landed on six priority areas and coinciding strategies hospital and health system leaders should focus on to address workforce challenges:

1. Healthy work environment. Health systems and policymakers must give clinicians' physical and psychological safety equal weight to patient safety through federal regulation, the task force said.

2. Diversity, equity and inclusion. Hospitals and health systems should integrate diversity, equity and inclusion ideals into leadership practices, daily operations, strategic planning, decision-making, resource allocation and priorities, according to the group. 

3. Work schedule flexibility. Healthcare leaders must create more flexible scheduling, shift options and start times for nurses.

4. Stress injury continuum. To improve nurse retention, leaders must address burnout, moral distress and compassion fatigue, the task force said.

5. Innovative care delivery models. Hospitals and health systems should adopt a "tribrid care delivery model" that includes on-site care delivery, IT integration of patient monitoring equipment, and ambulatory access and remote care delivery to create a more holistic approach to care, according to the task force.

6. Total compensation. Hospitals and health systems should create an organizationwide formal compensation program for nurses based on a more innovative and transparent pay policy. The program should be stratified based on market intelligence and generational needs and include benefits such as paid time off for self-care, the task force said.

View the full report and list of recommendations here.

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