For close to two years now, time and again, we have read about or witnessed first-hand the bravery and dedication of our nation’s healthcare professionals. No one could have foreseen the incredible stress and strain the COVID-19 pandemic would place on the shoulders of those entrusted with providing healthcare to the masses.
Even before January 2020, the United States was facing a nursing shortage, and the strain on our healthcare system has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. COVID surges, restrictions, vaccine mandates, and staffing shortages have contributed to an urgent need for nurses, allied health, and advanced practice professionals.
After everything our healthcare and school professionals have endured for the past two years, and all they do today, it is time to find new and better ways to give them our support. All of those in the healthcare industry know just how critical our healthcare professionals are to providing the lifesaving, quality care that each patient and student deserves.
With that in mind, let’s look at ways the industry can best support healthcare workers as we try to navigate the staffing issues impacting systems across the country.
5 Ways to Support Healthcare Professionals Today
Expanding Access to Care
To help healthcare systems react to fluctuating patient volumes as COVID hotspots moved in and out of communities, many states made temporary changes to ease restrictions on where and how nurses could practice. For example, waivers were granted to retired nurses allowing them to return to practice, and Nurse Licensure Compact rules were eased to allow nurses to practice across state lines and via telehealth.
It is time to accelerate the legislative process to make some of those changes permanent. Healthcare industry leaders should be contacting state legislators and supporting laws that will expand healthcare reciprocity among states and expand access to telehealth services for all. Make your voices heard!
Support Staff Mental Health and Wellness
Clearly, the pandemic has taken a toll on frontline nurses and healthcare professionals. From being short-staffed to sometimes lacking critical resources, many are suffering from burnout and stress-induced trauma. It is vital that we support a workplace culture that promotes better teamwork and collaboration.
And, just as important is to ensure that leadership fosters an environment where our healthcare professionals are being heard. Consider providing expanded access to mental health services, offering more frequent breaks, and allowing for greater flexibility in scheduling and downtime. All of this can serve to ease the burden on staff.
There have been plenty of reports about stressed-out customers verbally, and in some cases physically, abusing flight attendants and retail workers. But what isn’t as highly publicized are the rising incidents of abuse and violence against healthcare professionals. According to OSHA, one in four nurses faces physical violence on the job.
Whether the pandemic has intensified the situation or not, this problem existed before 2020. Nurses and healthcare workers deserve to feel safe and supported in the workplace. Solutions to this growing problem will vary by location, but the key is recognizing that the dangers exist and ensuring your organization is taking steps to mitigate and respond to the risks.
Invest in Staff Retention
When looking at the costs incurred to replace staff versus retain staff, it is crystal clear where to invest time, money, and energy. The cost of turnover is sky high, and when combined with an already existing nursing shortage, healthcare systems around the country should be laser-focused on staff retention.
Take more time to recognize achievements, cultivate better communication throughout the organization, take action on the feedback you are receiving, and engage in staff development. Showing interest in your staff and supporting their careers and skills development goes a long way toward building a healthier culture and reducing turnover.
Find Staffing Solutions
As an organization works to improve staff retention, there are still underlying staff shortages that must also be dealt with. One way to make noticeable improvements in the sourcing, screening, and hiring process is to find a trusted staffing partner.
Working collaboratively with a healthcare workforce solutions agency, like Supplemental Health Care, allows access to a nationwide network of potential candidates. In addition to maintaining a robust candidate pipeline, a trusted staffing partner can ease the complexities of compliance and streamline the screening and hiring process. Whether a company wants help during seasonal spikes or the added convenience of a full-fledged managed service provider (MSP), the right partner can play a vital role in staffing solutions.
Give Thanks for Healthcare Workers
Now more than ever, our healthcare and school professionals need support. The healthcare industry has to find new ways to address staffing shortages, help reduce pandemic-related stress and burnout, and demonstrate to their teams that they are being heard and that leadership is actively pursuing solutions.
During this seasonal time of giving thanks and spreading good cheer, let us all reach out to our essential nurses, therapists, techs, assistants, and other healthcare professionals to give them a warm and genuine thank you. Express your gratitude for all that they have done to help us through the pandemic and for all they are continuing to do on a daily basis. We are all drawn to a career in healthcare for a reason. And it is important to remember that we are all still in this together.