By Dillon Phillips
In today’s dynamic healthcare landscape, change is inevitable, and healthcare organizations frequently encounter it in the form of staffing challenges such as employee turnover, retirements, and restructuring. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing projects at least 640,000 practicing nurses to retire by 2030, and about 203,200 job openings for registered nurses are expected each year through 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
“Many transitions have caused nurses and other healthcare professionals to leave their roles and the nursing profession,” said Patti Artley, Chief Nursing Officer, Medical Solutions, in the 2022 Voices of Care survey. “We must embrace the identified opportunities to make a difference in our workforce. We need to focus on areas that will be impactful.”
To combat the instability and uncertainty surrounding these issues, organizations must implement a well-crafted transition plan for their facilities. Effective transition planning not only ensures the uninterrupted delivery of care but also is critical for maintaining operational efficiency. In this article, we’ll review the role of transition planning in healthcare and explore how partnering with providers of a healthcare talent ecosystem can help organizations navigate these transitions smoothly.
The Importance of Transition Planning in Healthcare
Transition planning involves anticipating and managing changes in the healthcare workforce to minimize disruptions to patient care and to maintain operational excellence. A comprehensive transition plan includes strategies for succession planning, knowledge transfer, and workforce development. By proactively preparing for inevitable staff changes, healthcare organizations can ensure that essential roles are filled, critical knowledge is retained, and high-quality patient care remains uncompromised.
Ensuring Continuity of Care
One of the primary concerns during transitions in healthcare is maintaining continuity of care. Patients rely on a familiar and trusted healthcare team, and sudden staffing changes can lead to gaps in care delivery. Transition planning facilitates a smooth handover of responsibilities, ensuring that patients continue to receive the same level of personalized care that was delivered previously. This continuity not only fosters patient satisfaction, but it also contributes to better health outcomes.
Addressing Challenges: Turnover, Retirements, and Restructuring
Healthcare organizations face many challenges that require effective transition planning. Employee turnover is especially common in the industry, and vacancies can result in workforce shortages and reduced quality of care.
Additionally, as many healthcare workers reach retirement age, they’re taking valuable experience and expertise with them. Further, organizational restructuring, mergers, or expansions can cause workforce realignments. Transition planning equips healthcare organizations to tackle these challenges proactively and ensures that patient care remains unaffected.
Leveraging Workforce Solutions Providers
Partnering with a workforce solutions provider can be a game-changer during times of transition. These organizations specialize in identifying qualified healthcare professionals to fill temporary or permanent positions, minimizing downtime and ensuring a seamless transition. These companies maintain extensive networks of healthcare professionals, making it easier to find the right fit for specific roles and specialties. Their expertise in workforce management can also provide valuable insights and assistance during critical transitions.
At Medical Solutions, our clients leverage our comprehensive healthcare talent ecosystem for a modern, holistic solution to their unique staffing needs. Our transition programs specifically target understaffed areas or positions with high turnover and generate a pipeline of candidates. These candidates then enter rotations that help train them for high-demand roles so they’re prepared for when those jobs become available.
“Our focus is connecting the right person for the right facility at the right time,” Artley said. “We make sure the candidates we’re placing are highly skilled, highly competent, and effectively trained to go into the location they’re pursuing.”
For example, to address the steady demand for ICU staff, we pair new acute unit nurses with intermediate or ICU nurses and rotate them after six months. Once oriented, the pairs can then either stay in their current roles or transition to the other when an opening occurs. As a result, facilities can create a steady queue of qualified nurses that assists with high turnover, prepares nurses to practice at a higher level, and decreases their dependency on travelers.
Proactive, Transparent Communication is Critical
From a management perspective, healthcare leaders should prioritize transparency and effective communication when discussing these changes with the workforce to help ensure smooth transitions.
“Transparency is paramount during organizational change and restructuring,” Artley said. “Generally, people are uncomfortable with transitions. They’re anxious and unsure about their jobs. As leaders, we should validate people’s feelings, practice active listening, and increase our presence and availability.”
Bree Becker, Director of Clinical Operations and Manager of Clinical Excellence, Medical Solutions, agreed that transparency is a critical element of successfully implementing changes in the workplace.
“Lack of transparency is a fatal flaw during change,” she said. “Leaders should be aware the workers will fill in the blanks on their own, and most of the time, they fill it in with stories and realities that are far more dire than what is happening within the organization. Check-in frequently with your workforce and encourage other leaders to do the same.”
Future-Proof Your Healthcare Workforce with Effective Transition Planning
In the fast-paced and constantly evolving healthcare industry, effective transition planning is essential for maintaining smooth operations and ensuring continuity of care. By proactively addressing challenges such as turnover, retirements, and restructuring, healthcare organizations can mitigate disruptions and uphold their commitment to patient well-being.
Deploying a healthcare talent ecosystem for transition planning in healthcare can enhance efficiency, continuity, and quality of care. These strategic alliances offer access to a pool of qualified professionals, invaluable expertise in workforce management, and the assurance of uninterrupted care during times of uncertainty. As healthcare continues to evolve, embracing transition planning and tapping into external resources will be essential for organizations seeking to shape the future of care.
Dillon Phillips is a content specialist at Medical Solutions.