Nursing leadership as well as managers are constantly struggling with staffing issues; it is rare to hear a nurse manager say, “I have more staff than I know what to do with.” That would be a dream I am sure for any manager. Imagine coming to work and not wondering if you have enough staff to cover the number of patients. Imagine working with a group of confident nurses that are secure in their skills and practice. Now we come back to reality, there are 5 licensed nurses for 40 cardiac telemetry patients. You fear there is going to be a drastic occurrence with a ratio of 8 to 1. You try to keep morale high as well as fears at bay, but you know, you need staff and your staff needs help.
You get approval from management to seek out travel nurses for short term until permanent staff can be trained and ready to work on the floor. Use of contract employee’s is similar to putting on a Band-Aid. Yes it covers the hole, but what about when the Band-Aid comes off, is your staff really ready to go. What about travel nurses that makes their own schedule and has their own way of doing things that do not mesh with your company policy or philosophy. How do you make current staff still feel appreciated knowing a travel nurse is making double sometimes triple the pay? In this essay these problems will be discussed as well as some of the reasoning behind why contract employees are indeed a necessary need.
Let us first discuss what an actual contract employee is. A contract employee is an individual hired by a business to provide a specific set of services. An example in nursing would be a traveling nurse. This nurse has experience sometimes in one particular area or in many areas, but this nurse is a quick learner and often times does not need weeks of apprenticeship before he or she is ready to work on their own within a team. A contract is agreed upon by the nurse and the company for a set amount of pay and sometimes bonuses as well as how long the nurse will be working for the company. In return the contracted nurse agrees to work for the company to the best of his or her abilities.
Nursing leadership as well as Management do not in general like having to hire travel nurses, but when all other resources are drained and you see staff as well as patients struggling and suffering leadership as well as management has to acknowledge help is needed, for patient as well as staff satisfaction. Management sees this as a financial drain, nursing leadership sees this as an unknown nurse coming in to help, but this person is also making double what regular staff is making and has to minimize the negative comments that occur.
One example; “ She is making double what I do, why should I have to continue to take 8 patients and still work weekends, make them do it.” A good manager in this writers opinion would reply with, this person makes more than you, yes, but they are only here temporarily, this person gets paid more to give up their home and not know where they will be 10 weeks from now. Travel nurses; also do not receive any type of hospital benefits, management is looking for stable, local staff to take this persons place.
Six Sigma is a popular theory that, “seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variables in manufacturing.” (SIX) Management teams are learning this process and theory in order to train staff at different levels in their career to build “Champions.” “Six Sigma at many organizations simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. (SIX).”
This writer learned of Six Sigma approach several years ago and feels it is a practice all businesses should adopt. It gives employee’s the chance to move up levels and know what goals need to be accomplished in order to move to the next level. A new employee would be considered a white belt, just learning company policies and procedures, where as a seasoned employee could be a black belt confident in skills, policy and procedure, looking to improve them to a champion level within the company. Currently at this writers present job she is a white belt. Although confident in nursing skills, this is still a new company with new policies and procedures to learn.
In conclusion, travel nurses or any type of contract employee is needed. Help is not always readily available, but is always needed. Contractual employees provide a great service to an emergent need. Current staff needs to feel confident that they are not being replaced by contract employee’s only that these staff is there to help while there is the need. Once the need is no longer there the contract staff will leave and the team will become even stronger working together as a group, and also that knows, no one is being given more than the other.
A nursing theory for nursing leadership. [J Nurs Manag. 2000] – PubMed – NCBI. (n.d.).National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11051964
What Is Six Sigma?. (n.d.).iSixSigma: Six Sigma Resources for Six Sigma Quality. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://www.isixsigma.com/new-to-six-sigma/getting-started/what-six-sigma/