The problem is top of mind for many in my industry, and solutions do exist.
Even the most well-intentioned healthcare executives are challenged to maintain an equilibrium between the financial pressures of a challenging market and compensating and supporting their labor force. Many executives in the workforce solutions business likely ask the same questions. What role can we play? How can leaders at all stations strive to attain proper patient coverage and an environment where staff feels they have a trusted champion for their well-being and career goals? How much can we, contingent healthcare workforce executives, give to help balance the scales?
Though all appropriate questions - as with any intractable problem- there is no one-size-fits-all solution. While I applaud the support offered by several institutions through generous grants and donations, there isn't one company, person, government entity, or NGO that can provide a quick fix. Fortunately, the problem is top of mind for many in my industry, and solutions do exist.
Identify Opportunities to Expand Education and Resources
Like many of my peers and other industry leaders, I believe that by working together, we can identify solutions that stem the tide of attrition and attract new talent to the industry. First, we must take the long view by creating substantial and equitable pathways for our younger generations to explore medical professions earlier in their academic careers.
The early 1980s saw a massive increase in the nursing population, thanks to Congress's investment in nursing schools and tuition subsidies. Chicago Public Schools and other high school districts are already introducing nursing, allied health, and pre-medicine courses into health sciences and technology curriculums. Juniors and seniors in some states can begin CNA courses while still in high school, earning licensure before graduation and equipping them with the foundational knowledge needed for a career in nursing. The increasing availability of programs like these could go a long way toward enticing new providers once again.
If we now turn our lens to our pre-high school graduates, offering exposure to health science courses and essential practical experiences nationwide, could we find ourselves with a larger pool of potential healthcare professionals than we even knew existed? By offering opportunities earlier, we can begin to identify and nurture the needs of our nurses in their careers. We can affect real change across the healthcare landscape and, most importantly, inspire a renewed interest in and desire to join the profession.
Collaboration is Key
Industry leaders should also be mindful of pooling financial or non-clinical resources. There is much to benefit from private industry and higher education efforts, like HCA Healthcare’s recent partnership with Florida International University to expand faculty and offer scholarships. Some colleges and universities are initiating programs and partnerships to address workforce and faculty shortages. In addition, student leadership opportunities also exist to promote healthcare-focused careers and opportunities to youth – initiatives that should be supported by larger healthcare institutions in the interest of helping pave the way for future providers.
Actively Listen, Purposefully Respond
For our part, Ingenovis Health launched the ACT program (Advocacy. Career. Tools.) designed to help clinicians grow, thrive and advance in their careers. Our commitment is one of time, attention and resources to provide our nurses, doctors, Allied technicians and other healthcare professionals with the tools they need to maintain proper well-being and a promising path to advancement. Through this program, we have increased EAP and mental wellness benefits, personal financial information and tools, and other resources supporting their success in work and life. The future goal is to offer exclusive continuing education program, cross-professional development, and clinical coaching, along with a vast assortment of additional resources and recognitions.
Lydia Mobley, a travel ICU nurse and a Clinician Engagement Partner at Ingenovis Health, recently shared her sentiments on this topic. "I left the profession a few years ago but felt compelled to return during the pandemic. Since then, I've seen many healthcare workers struggling with burnout or mental health who feel no one is listening. It's meaningful to me that the company I work for is taking this seriously and providing real-world solutions. I couldn't be prouder than to be a part of the team designing, launching and supporting ACT.”
I am committed to Ingenovis Health's purpose of building a home for healthcare talent, and I fiercely embrace the privilege of supporting these clinicians. I encourage my peers to do the same. We all share a common goal to deliver quality patient care through a robust nursing population of new and veteran providers who are satisfied in their jobs. Working with our hospital and health system partners, we must look beyond traditional staffing formulas and models to identify new and innovative approaches to support our clinicians and patients. We will need to reevaluate our traditional candidate pipeline and embrace new methods for blending experienced employed and contingent clinicians in the workforce, including embracing technology-supported care like virtual nursing. Simultaneously, we must invest in tools and resources that support our valued clinicians' well-being and career advancement.
It is an honor to be in a position of influence over the care and support of our nurses, and we must all take that responsibility seriously for nurses today and in the future. If we ensure our roles are forward-thinking and are willing to listen to nurses like Lydia, we can achieve our goals, attract more candidates to the profession, and meaningfully connect with the ones we already have.
Bart Valdez is the CEO of Ingenovis Health, a leader in healthcare workforce solutions featuring Trustaff, Fastaff, HealthCare Support, U.S. Nursing, VISTA Staffing Solutions, Springboard Healthcare and CardioSolution.