In the ever-evolving field of healthcare, the role of nurses may stretch far beyond traditional boundaries. As your healthcare facility strives to provide efficient care to patients, the concept of cross training your nurses may have crossed your mind.
Let’s explore the idea of cross training your nurses, its benefits, and how to open opportunities to your workforce. Reshape the nursing landscape and transform the way you deliver care by empowering your nurses.
Empower Nurses: Defining Cross-Training Solution for Nurses
The United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast has projected a shortage of registered nurses (RNs) across the country through the year 2023. The analysis forecast a significant shortage of registered nurses in 30 states with the most intense in the Western U.S.¹
Additionally, a nursing workforce analysis published in Health Affairs in April 2022 by Dr. David Auerbach and colleagues found that the total supply of registered nurses dropped by more than 100,000 from 2020 to 2021. This was found to be the largest drop in number over the last four decades.²
Cross-training is the strategized redeployment of nurses with similar technical skills to multiple units or specializations. It can help you adapt to industry changes and fill specialized vacancies.
This strategy is an ideal solution for facilities struggling to fill specialized vacancies. It can help hone both newly graduated and experienced nurses.
It can also encourage your nursing workforce to gain more experience through a variety of work. It may even help reduce feelings of burnout and frustration as it gives nursing professionals the chance to explore other areas in the healthcare system that they’ve been eyeing or have never even considered.
Set Expectations for Cross-Training Programs
For nurses to be considered for cross-training programs, there may be qualification parameters, such as good performance ratings, they would need to meet. Nurses should also inform their supervisors about their career interests to be considered for the program and enable the planning of a training assessment.
Some nurses may need to accomplish a year or two of clinical registered nurse experience to become eligible to join cross-training programs. Meanwhile, nurses who want to be cross trained in critical care units may be advised to earn additional certifications. Some of these certifications may include pediatric advanced life support or advanced cardiac life support.
Cross-training programs happen during work hours, but each facility has its own specific hours for cross-training. That said, nurses should seek approval from their supervisor or HR before proceeding.
Once approved, they can work with the cross-training department to create a training plan, and their performance will be evaluated upon completion.
Examples of Cross-Training Specializations and Concentrations
Nurses can be cross trained in various specializations or concentrations. Here are some of them.
In critical care, nurses are tasked to closely monitor, provide primary care, evaluate, and treat critical care patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
A nurse in telemetry care or progressive care closely monitors clients whose hearts’ electrical activity needs to be measured by a device. These patients were diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases or other serious illnesses.
Medical-surgical nurses provide care to adults with a variety of healthcare issues, including medical diagnoses and surgical conditions. It is the largest nursing specialty in the United States.
Post Anesthesia Care Unit
Nurses in post anesthesia care for post-surgery patients after they have undergone general anesthesia. They closely monitor the patient’s vital signs and may perform other evaluations to assess any possible complications during recovery.
Advantages of Cross-Training Nurses
Give your facility and workforce a boost by cross training your nurses. It can give your team more confidence in filling roles during emergencies or shortages.
Improves Flexibility and Expands Skill Sets
It can be challenging when hospitals only have a few specialists within their teams. Cross-training your nurses can improve the flexibility of your workforce. Having diverse skills, your cross-trained nurses can smoothly transition between different units, specialties, or departments.
This adaptability can allow you to reallocate resources, improve your staff’s coverage during emergencies and peak hours, and lets your nurses be more efficient in responding to the changing demands of patients.
Moreover, it aids in scheduling, providing options for filling roles and accommodating unforeseen absences. This means your nurses can also replace others who called in sick or had to transfer facilities.
Opens Mentorship Opportunities
You can help your nurses build authentic and meaningful connections with colleagues and superiors if you allow them to participate in cross-training. Mentorship can improve camaraderie and trust within your teams as they learn from each other during training.
Motivates Nursing Employees and Increases Their Job Satisfaction
Nurses may also feel stuck within their specific roles. Providing your nurses with cross-training opportunities gives them a chance to break free from stagnant roles and find excitement in new responsibilities. It can then bring back their excitement at work and can boost their morale.
On top of this, investing in staff growth fosters loyalty. It encourages long-term commitment and improved contributions to their teams and programs.
Enhances Team Collaboration and Efficiency
Improve collaboration and efficiency within your workforce. Cross-trained nurses can better communicate with their colleagues and coordinate their job functions in patient care because they have experience working flexibly outside of their usual teams. They can also share personal experiences and suggest improvements about certain specialties they’ve covered during training.
How to Open Opportunities for Cross-Training
If you plan to launch your own cross-training program for your facility, take the time to identify current and future shortages in your facility. It’s also important to assess your staff’s skill sets to identify gaps and related expertise.
Here are other steps you can take in organizing your cross-training program.
Gather Feedback to Identify Facility Needs
Talk to staff members across all areas. Include people beyond the obvious and traditional roles such as fresh graduates and veteran nurses. This aids cross-training ideas and improves staff engagement while understanding work culture and system.
Consult Other Experts for Cross-Training Insights
Cross-training nurses has been considered by many experts in the field of health care. It would be best to seek out the insights of your networking connections about their previous plans, successes, and failures in implementing similar programs.
You may also contact specialists such as the Advisory Board to know about their latest research and case studies.
Consider Cross Unit or Cross Specialization
Once you’ve gathered the necessary data from your staff members, colleagues, and other connections in the industry, it’s time to decide if you want to train your nurses through a cross unit program or a cross specialization one.
Your RNs can be cross-trained to switch between different units such as medical-surgical, critical care, telemetry, or the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).
Overlapping skill sets and patient needs can make it easier for your team to implement scheduled rotations or float pools. This can be a welcome relief for nurses overwhelmed with high-acuity patients.
Nurses can rotate between in and outpatient setups within the same line for high-volume specialties like cardiology, orthopedic surgery, and other key areas like outpatient infusion centers or inpatient oncology.
This can help foster a better understanding of the patient care’s full spectrum and allow nurses to follow patients across different settings.
Make Your Approach to Patient Care More Flexible by Cross-Training Nurses
Cross training in healthcare can improve your workforce’s patient care by making them more adaptable and flexible to changes that may suddenly occur in the field. That’s why it’s important to understand their career plans and needs first to implement an effective program.
STRATEGICALLY FILL YOUR VACANCIES WITH NURSES YOU CAN CROSS-TRAIN WITH PRS GLOBAL
We place global nurses in competitive American healthcare facilities and help them take care of their employment requirements to immediately get them started at their new job. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services.
1 “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast.” National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31479295/. Accessed 5 Jul. 2023.
2 “A Worrisome Drop In The Number Of Young Nurses.” Health Affairs, 13 Apr. 2022, www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/worrisome-drop-number-young-nurses. Accessed 19 July 2023.