The Cyclical Nature of Post-Acute Staffing

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As seasons change, so do recruiting and hiring patterns. Summer has officially begun, and many post-acute care organizations may already feel the dip in a seasonal staffing cycle. But according to Todd Davis, the Director of Post-Acute Operations at Medical Solutions, this is not something to stress over.

“Each year, there are summer lulls, and some leadership may think the market is dropping, but jobs are actually tapering off and stabilizing nearer pre-pandemic levels.” 

Around this time of the year, we see that our clients are told to start cutting contingent staff. But often, it’s too much too fast and could end up hurting more than helping. It can put you into a crisis situation, ultimately costing your facility more money when you must rehire again under crisis staffing levels. 

We advise not to cut staff too fast as this feels like the cyclical nature of the pre-pandemic market, which we haven’t seen the last couple of years. Activity usually picks back up around August, September, and October.”

After years of high demand for travel nurses, market conditions appear to be settling back into pre-pandemic cycles. Post-acute occupancy rates in some regions have dropped 14 percent since 2020, and travel staff is experiencing drastic contract changes as facilities everywhere attempt to stabilize. Seasonal trends are somewhat predictable, so what should post-acute organizations consider as they plan ahead to reduce the stress of slower periods? As we continue into summer, leadership must continue to find ways to manage their workforce and spend strategically amidst seasonal fluctuations.

The post-pandemic vacation is imminent and necessary. 

Summertime typically sees an uptick in vacation requests creating a need for short-term contracts to fill summer staffing gaps and ensure patient care stability. After years of long hours and limited travel opportunities, more and more permanent staff are taking advantage of their time off. These breaks are essential for morale and the health and well-being of your caregivers and can help ease the onset of compassion fatigue, burnout, or nurse strikes.

While staffing challenges have persisted in post-acute facilities for years, reactively reducing contingent labor may not be the answer. With strong ties between funding, reimbursement, and patient volumes, every gap in staffing lowers an organization’s ability to invest and grow for the future.

Contingent nursing labor can be a strategic, cost-effective resource for post-acute care facilities across seasonal staffing cycles. Resist the urge to cut all short-term contracts as we head into these summer lulls and use your contingent workforce to support full-time clinicians.

If your facility is considering utilizing travel nurses and clinicians to offset seasonal post-acute trends, reach out to Medical Solutions to see how we can support your strategic staffing needs.

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