Supporting Nurses to Maintain the Highest Standards of Patient Care

Updated on July 24, 2023
friendly nurse visiting recovering senior patient

As a direct result of a pandemic-fueled nurse staff shortage, Jackson Health System in Florida has recently taken a positive step forward by negotiating a 13% raise for their nurses, plus additional benefits. Considering this development now is an excellent time to reflect and consider viable solutions to ensure nurses have the necessary resources to deliver the highest level of patient care. 

Nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with nearly 34,000 registered nurses in Florida’s Miami-Dade County alone. Each one of these nurses plays a critical role in the healthcare system — in fact, nurses are the primary providers of hospital patient care and deliver most of the nation’s long-term care.

Unfortunately, despite their essential role in patients’ health, nurses have been experiencing heightened burnout due to increasing demands, widespread staffing shortages, and other contributing factors. While feelings of burnout were at a tipping point during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, too many nurses are continuing to experience the impact to this day, which is why the Jackson Health System pay increase and benefits are pivotal.

Of course, the crisis is not just felt in Florida. According to a recent survey of 12,000 nurses conducted by the American Nurse Foundation in 2022, 71% reported feeling stressed, 69% reported feeling frustrated and 65% reported feeling exhausted. Unsurprisingly, these negative feelings directly impact the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of nurses and, in some cases, have caused individuals to retire early or leave the industry entirely. In fact, Health Affairs reported that the number of full-time nurses decreased by 100,000 in 2021 alone. The Florida Hospital Association and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida reported that Florida alone will face a shortfall of 59,100 nurses by 2035, unless more swift and decisive action is taken to avert this ongoing crisis.

The Impact on Patient Care

As healthcare organizations like Jackson Health know, nurses’ job satisfaction and well-being directly affect their performance, which means burnout can significantly compromise the quality of patient care.  Feelings of distractedness or fatigue can cause increased patient safety risks, such as medication errors, or poorer patient outcomes. Additionally, some nurses experiencing burnout can understandably struggle with patient engagement, leading to a less meaningful nurse/patient relationship.

Satisfactory wages and additional benefits go a long way to alleviating stress and anxiety, but supplementary staffing is also a critical component to ensuring staff nurses do not work too many hours and get the rest they need before their next shift.

Addressing persistent staffing shortages is crucial, so that nurses can manage a sustainable patient load, attain a better work/life balance, and avoid burnout, and travel nursing firms can play an important role in supplementing staff and alleviating that strain.

Travel Nurse Firms

More than just healthcare temp agencies, travel nurse firms are dedicated to delivering supplemental staffing and contingent labor solutions to hospitals and healthcare systems in need. The vetted, credentialed, professional nurses, available through firms that specialize in Pro Re Nata or “as necessary” nurse assignments, cover long-term staffing gaps due to retirements or resignations, short-term staffing gaps due to unexpected sicknesses or family leave, and help an organization prepare for seasonal spikes such as flu season. When incorporated as part of the ongoing staffing workflow, travel nurses ensure the right nurse/patient ratio consistently. More importantly, when travel nurses are engaged, patient care remains uninterrupted in the face of expected or unexpected absences and “busy” seasons, leading to heightened continuity and satisfaction and overall better outcomes.

Jackson Health System sets an inspiring example for the entire healthcare industry for compensating their nursing staff and for also providing additional resources to address burnout. When nurses are operating at their best, everyone benefits.

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Guilherme Macagnan

Guilherme Macagnan is CEO of AMX Healthcare.