Using Traveling Staff to Adjust to Summer Schedules

Client

The weather is warming up. Schools will soon be out of session. Vacation season has arrived. Signs point to a big increase in vacation plans nationwide post-pandemic. Nurses and clinicians in particular want and need a break. What does that mean for summer healthcare staffing? What steps can facilities take to keep their staffing levels right?

After years of staying put or having plans interrupted by the pandemic, industry analysts agree that people want to travel again. According to an annual travel trends study conducted by American Express, 76% of respondents state they plan to travel more with family in 2022 than they did in 2021.

Nurses and clinicians took the brunt of the pandemic stress, working longer hours or helping more patients. Their vacation plans were undone, like so many others. And those who did travel to help areas impacted by COVID-19, were hardly on a vacation. So great (and deserving) is their desire for a vacation that a variety of travel industry discounts and giveaways targeted at nurses have popped up.

This increase in demand for time off means the healthcare staffing crunch could easily continue even as the COVID tide goes out. What can a facility do to address the issue? Put simply, they can extend the traveling staff or contingent staff currently on assignment with them.

More and more staffing leaders are realizing that retention is the new recruitment and taking tangible steps to keep staff happy. To give their permanent staff time off in the summer (and keep them employed and engaged) leaders are extending their travelers through August and September. So, while census and COVID cases may be down, their use of contingent staff is not.

Summer may also be the best time to make your facility or location attractive to new traveling staff, as they’re seeking to mix their assignment with a chance to see other parts of the country. For example, the spring and summer is an ideal time to visit the Pacific Northwest. Traveling clinicians may find that area and climate very attractive.

Don’t think your facility or town is a “destination” for travelers to find? Don’t be so sure. Nearly every place has its attractive qualities, whether it’s near a beach or has a small-town charm. Those communities that put their best foot forward and welcome traveling staff could find a great way to reward permanent nurses with some well-earned time off.

Vacation time matters. Staffing leaders must also recognize a very real and scary downside to not addressing burnout and exhaustion among nurses – a strike. There’s been an uptick in strikes recently, including Stanford.  While financial considerations are a part of virtually every major labor dispute, it’s impossible not to notice the role burnout plays.

Union leaders at Stanford made a point to call out what they considered a lack of “time to rest with our families and insufficient support for our mental health.”

The leaders and facilities that clearly understand the value of permanent staff and reward them with time off for summer vacation may be the ones best able to navigate the coming national discussion about caring for caregivers, and what they provide patients and communities.

If you’re curious about other healthcare staffing trends or emerging issues, Medical Solutions has a total workforce solution capable of addressing your unique questions and challenges. Start a conversation with our experts at any time.

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