Twelve Percent Rise in Nurse Staffing Costs Fuel Demand
Employers are blending more travel nurses with permanent workforce
"Employers are blending more experienced Travel Nurses with permanent workers in an effort to decrease expenses and improve patient care," said Clinical Resource Manager, Deborah, Bacurin, RN, American Traveler.
A recent study published by professional services firm KPMG reveals how labor costs can be curbed by leveraging nurse travelers.
Non-productivity costs are eating up nurse staff payroll, report analysts, and exhaustive time-to-fill rates are making the quality and immediate access of travel nurses attractive to hospitals. Facilities surveyed by KPMG reported an average 12 percent increase in nurse staffing costs in 2010. Most expect the trend to continue."
The cost of hiring permanent nurse staff is trending upward. It now takes an average 37 days or seven work weeks to fill a permanent RN position and another 28 days for orientation and training, KPMG reported* last week. Though the ideal ratio of permanent nurses to travelers is 90:10, hospitals are planning to increase the use of supplemental labor as a means of filling critical RN jobs with travel nurses, boosting nurse quality and reducing nurse staffing costs. Healthcare employers report the rapid hire rates of travel nurses trim overall labor costs while saving organizations time and money.
Report findings attach a 22 percent non-productivity cost to the hiring of a full-time RN. Costs include recruiting, training, education, insurance and personal Internet use, all of which can be assuaged by contracting with travel nurses through a nurse staffing agency, said Corporate Clinical Resource Manager, Deborah Bacurin, RN, of travel nurse staffing agency American Traveler.
"These somewhat hidden costs are associated with on-boarding every full-time RN," Bacurin said. "By supplementing permanent staff with traveling nurses, the cost of acquiring nurses is nearly eliminated and training and orientation is reduced from weeks to days."
In contrast to new registered nurse hires that can consume up 233 training hours, travel nurses assimilate to new hospital environments quickly and orientation takes little more than a day or two. This potentially saves hospitals thousands of dollars a year when supplanting just one permanent RN with a traveling nurse.
Moreover, slow time to fill rates can drain a hiring budget, Bacurin said. With an average attrition rate of 14 percent among permanent staff and an impact of almost 65 work days on productivity related to unfilled positions; travel nurses close gaps in patient care quickly and provide a short and long-term solution to erratic supply and demand forces, nurse overtime and high nurse staff turnover. All factors contributing to rising labor costs.
"Shortly after contracting with American Traveler, client hospitals experienced up to a 60 percent improvement with rapid hires to fill the critical needs in RN jobs," Bacurin said.
Though more than two-thirds of hospitals surveyed by KPMG employ travel nurses, most say cost isn't the number one reason why they do. Nurse quality is.
"The knowledge and experience of a travel nurse is an asset to hospital employers," said Bacurin. "They practice in multiple healthcare environments, think quickly on their feet and are more likely to possess knowledge of healthcare information technologies."
Hospitals surveyed by KPMG reported using three to five healthcare staffing agencies to fill travel nurse jobs. Some indicated scaling back to one or two top performers in an effort to boost quality assurance.
"Nurse staffing agencies vary significantly in experience, size, resources, capabilities and scope of services. Joint Commission certified American Traveler has more than 25 years travel nurse staffing experience and places nurses in top hospitals and outpatient centers nationwide," Bacurin said.