Keeping frontline health care workers at the bedside

We all have a role to play.

As the CEO of a company that places travel and permanent healthcare talent, I face daily issues presented by the compounding healthcare provider shortage in America. Since I last wrote on the topic in this very journal, the situation has worsened and we’re facing a future of severe shortages that threaten our collective physical well-being, as well as the ability for our healthcare provider clients to run their systems at optimal levels.

Those of us in the profession know that although COVID-19 didn’t cause the problem, it certainly did exacerbate it. According to McKinsey research released earlier this year, an alarming three out of ten nurses were considering leaving their current role, and only a third of those intended to take another role at the bedside. The strongest drivers of intent to leave include insufficient staffing levels, seeking higher pay, not feeling listened to or supported at work, and the emotional toll of the job.

Other consistent stressors on nurses in the recent past include challenging patient ratios, mandatory overtime, and a lack of training and support to deal with behavioral health issues from patients and even families.

And, appallingly, patient violence against healthcare providers is on the rise. Tragic events in recent past have left us all horrified and deeply saddened.

Which leads us to the obvious question: What can be done? This problem is years in the making and has multiple causes. And the impact of this problem will be felt by all who have devoted their careers to patient care.

As with most seemingly intractable problems, there is no single solution and no single person or entity who can fix what is broken. But if we work together toward a common goal to ameliorate the situation, we can be a part of the solution. With a workforce plainly stating that they feel overworked, underappreciated, and unheard, it’s time for us to grow and evolve in ways that stem the tide of attrition.

For our part, we are making a focused and committed investment in our workforce and that’s why this week I introduced Ingenovis Health ACT (Advocacy. Career. Tools.), a proprietary program devoted to providing clinicians with thetools and resources they need to grow, flourish, and advance in their careers. It is a collection of efforts and investments to foster their development and well-being.

This program was designed based on feedback from our frontline healthcare workers and was inspired by our appreciation for and commitment to them.

As we designed the program, we spoke directly to nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals who have spent the last couple of years bravely fighting COVID on the front lines at ICUs and EDs around the country. We made sure this voice of the clinician helped guide us to the solutions that would be most meaningful to frontline healthcare workers. According to Fastaff ICU Nurse Lydia Mobley, “Having served on the frontline in intensive care units during the pandemic, I experienced firsthand the unprecedented mental and physical stress healthcare workers have faced. We need help to better manage the stressors that bring about burnout or attrition and lead the way to better working environments.”

In the development of the ACT program, we spent extensive time studying data and our own firsthand research, asking providers about what factors are causing the greatest struggles. Based on the pervasive themes and common concerns, we structured the program around three pillars: advocacy, career advancement and useful tools and resources for their preparedness and well-being.

Each of these pillars will guide our investments, resources and attention in a duty to retain valued healthcare professionals and attract new talent.

I encourage our industry of workforce solution providers, healthcare staffing agencies and all those involved with the contingent healthcare labor force to work together to help keep our nation’s healthcare providers from leaving the profession.

A contingent workforce is a useful, valuable, vital, and necessary part of the healthcare landscape in America. Losing experienced caregivers to other professions when we could have prevented the attrition is unacceptable, and further, creates an imbalance in flexible solutions that healthcare systems depend on. Particularly during this compounding provider shortage, we need to transform the way we value this workforce and recognize the impact they have on our well-being as a society.

For my colleagues and me, it is a duty and privilege to invoke a movement that raises the level of respect for today’s healthcare professionals and inspires the next generation of healthcare heroes.

After serving as President and CEO of Fastaff and U.S. Nursing, Bart Valdez was appointed Chief Executive Officer for the newly formed Ingenovis Health in June 2021. Ingenovis Health is an ingenious new force in healthcare workforce solutions formed by the acquisitions of Trustaff, Fastaff, U.S. Nursing, CardioSolution, HealthCare Support and VISTA Staffing Solutions.