Rochester Regional eyes operational changes, hires 475 international nurses

Rochester (N.Y.) Regional Health is experiencing the same workforce challenges as all health systems across the U.S.

The nine-hospital health system serves Western, Central and Northern New York and has more than 4,000 nurses and 19,100 system employees. Rochester Regional reports more than 188,000 emergency room visits and 71,000 inpatient stays annually, as well as 2.7 million visits to its medical group. New York has some of the highest critical workforce shortages in the nation, and with services in high demand, the health system can't wait for workforce pressures to ease.

"In many areas, the projected need for qualified staff will continue to outpace supply well into the next decade," said Richard Davis, PhD, CEO of Rochester Regional. "In response, we're transforming our operating model and focusing on tighter integration and innovation in talent acquisition, workforce development and well-being. We have embarked on a transformation journey to reduce labor costs by eliminating premium contracts, innovating work redesign and diversifying our talent pipeline strategies."

Rochester Regional is also looking abroad for talent. The health system is expanding recruitment internationally and in the U.S. with a recruitment program to address the domestic workforce shortage. Dr. Davis said the system has hired more than 475 international nurses expected to join its system in the next months and years.

Many health systems are looking outside the U.S. for talent. Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health revealed plans to hire more than 700 international team members by 2025 on three-year contracts and hopes they stay in the community long term. A 2021 survey of international nurses by AMN Healthcare showed the average tenure for international nurses is 12 years of experience, and most come from the Philippines, Jamaica or India.

Rochester Regional is also continuing to partner with 45 regional academic partners to train the next generation of its workforce across the health system and maintain workforce development efforts with Rochester General College of Health Careers and Isabella Graham Hart School of Practical Nursing.

Finally, Rochester Regional is taking steps to reduce third-party contracted labor.

"We've created a new in-house agency to significantly reduce our reliance on third-party contracts and improve staff integration within the health system to foster a more robust culture of collaboration, interdependency, alignment and systemness," said Dr. Davis.

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