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How can understaffed Hospitals innovate During Nursing Shortage 

Even if industry experts have already long predicted a nursing shortage, no one could have predicted it would be on a global scale and as severe as it is now. With the increasing turnover rates, retiring nursing workforce, and the rising need for geriatric care, traditional strategies prove to yield unsatisfactory results in addressing the global healthcare staffing shortage. Thus, hospitals and other healthcare organizations scramble to find innovative and sustainable ways to keep up. 

Nurses are the largest group of healthcare professionals providing direct patient care in hospitals and are a critical workforce to get this done. The quality of care in understaffed hospitals is a clear reflection of the performance of its nurses or lack thereof. If your hospital has been suffering from a shortage of nurses and needs help to understand and address this crisis, this article will give you some useful insight. After all, the goal is to provide the best patient care and outcomes.  

Why is There a Nursing Shortage? 

As mentioned above, industry experts have long predicted the nursing shortage, and thus, these three major reasons have been around even before the pandemic started: 

More People Needing Geriatric Care 

The projection seems bleak as baby boomers are going into their golden years. According to a report by the US Census Bureau, 82 million US residents will be age 65 and above by 2030. This means that there will be a greater need for geriatric care and patients with chronic diseases and comorbidities. This results in more and more nurses turning to geriatric care because the pace is less stressful, and nurses can count on a more stable schedule. 

Nurses are Either Quitting, Retiring, or Entering Early Retirement 

According to the 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the average age of registered nurses (RNs) is 50 years old. So as the general population grows old, so does the nursing workforce. 

Also, with the global pandemic, a significant number of nurses who were thinking, “I might retire in a few years,” have thought, “Now is the time.” The stress of an increased workload has forced many nurses to consider early retirement, too. 

There’s also the added consideration for nurses who choose to quit for a while. Some can afford to leave their jobs and spend time at home to be with their loved ones. Others have also started changing career paths. 

Dry Pool of New Nurses 

Due to the short amount of nurses in hospitals, the demand is greater than the supply of new nurses, but it’s not exactly because no one wants to be a nurse anymore. According to the 2019-2020 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing reported by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, US nursing schools turned down over 80,000 qualified applicants from both baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. 

The problem lies in the inability of US nursing schools to acquire and provide sufficient clinical sites, faculty and staff members, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget. So, there can only be fewer new nurses entering the workforce each year. This number won’t keep up with the demand to cover the vacancies created by quitting and retiring nurses. 

What We Know Now 

Employers and understaffed hospitals have trends to consider given the current and evolving lack of nurses. Once these trends are studied, you can clearly address the issues applicable to your organization and develop appropriate innovations and strategies. 

  • Nurses value their time over money and compensation. 
  • Nurses seek a balanced work and home life with little to no compromise. 
  • Nurses who choose not to leave the workforce carry the load of travel, relocation, and long hours. 
  • Nurses are looking to integrate some parts of their home life with their work life, such as expecting their employers to take care of childcare, housekeeping, and provision of on-site full-service banking. 
  • Younger generation nurses favor autonomy over bureaucracy, and they choose independent work or freelancing in healthcare agencies. 
  • Nurses seek collaborative management and are looking for employers who can create environments of teamwork and creativity. 

What Understaffed Hospitals Can Do At This Moment

Knowing what we know now, how do we fix it? There are many vague tips on what you can do for your nurses, such as appreciate them, be transparent, communicate, and many more, but what exactly do your nurses need? Here are some ideas of tangible and sustainable plans that understaffed hospitals and healthcare employers can execute to address the nursing shortage: 

Review and Improve Work Processes to Retain Current Workforce 

Before taking on the daunting task of transforming, start first with improving on systems that are currently in place. For example, how much time do your nurses use to chase down equipment? How much time do they spend searching for doctors and medication? How much time is wasted completing redundant paperwork? To make sure that nurses are satisfied with the work they’re doing, developing a more efficient system that works for your staff is a top priority. 

Take this collaborative project between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) as an example. It’s known as Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB) and involves several hospitals in a pilot program for nurses to identify and carry out improvements in their units. The program aims to make it easier for nurses to spend more time with patients and less time on administrative and redundant tasks. 

Some of this project’s process improvements are creating rapid response teams, implementing a one-hour peace and quiet time, and moving supplies from a central location to patients’ rooms. A rapid response team is a dedicated team of physicians who would intervene when a patients’ condition takes a turn for the worse. This shortens response times and puts value on a nurse’s professional judgment before patients reach a more irreparable point of crisis. The peace and quiet time is an hour dedicated for nurses to destress. Finally, moving supplies to a more accessible location also aims to shorten response times. 

These improvements might seem small, and every organization has a different need. So, take a look at your processes and see where you can improve. Then, apply automated processes wherever possible. Bit by bit, nurses are saved from extra and unnecessary pains. Also, organizations can only benefit from this because the changes are either cost-neutral or can save money. 

Create a Succession Plan 

A lot of nurses are considering or nearing retirement, so it would be a good idea to have these seasoned nurses work closely with newly hired ones. This ensures that all nurses are ready to manage clinical and administrative duties on patient care units.   

Inversely, though innovation and automation are a great help to your processes, technological advances can cause seasoned nurses to struggle to keep up and adapt. This may lead them to leave their jobs at an earlier time. Teaming them up with the younger generation who has a deep understanding and adaptability to technology can relieve and address this pain point and help you better prepare for the nursing shortage. 

Enlist Help from International Nursing Recruitment Agencies 

International travel nurses bring their expertise across the globe. They can help you fill the gaps in your workforce with guaranteed staffing that spans 12 to 36 months.  

To onboard candidates for international nursing jobs, you can get the help of international nursing recruitment agencies to screen and secure a steady flow of nurses to your organization. They ensure that the nurses you hire are competent, committed, looking for personal and professional growth, diverse, and can ease your staff’s workload. This also gives you the added benefit of providing top-notch and consistent care for your patients. 

By getting help from a trusted, innovative, and reliable staffing agency, you can transform your stressed, overworked, and thinning workforce into a lively, nurturing, and growing one.  


Start solving the nursing shortage of your understaffed hospital by finding the best international travel nurses with our help! We at PRS Global are committed to going the extra mile for you and our nurses. We go beyond the problem at hand and are able and willing to bring you staffing solutions that will bring immediate results and allow you to plan for the future. 

We aim to break through the glass ceiling separating American healthcare providers from international travel nurses and bridge that gap. Together, let’s transform your organization through global sourcing and placement of highly trained, committed, ethical, and compassionate registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses.  

Contact us at PRS Global today!