Flexible Scheduling Helps Attract and Retain Nurses
In an increasingly complex healthcare industry, hospital leaders say flexible scheduling options may be valuable tool for fostering nurse recruitment and retention.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of registered nurses to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031, with more than 200,000 job openings each year, on average, during the decade. Like many healthcare systems, Cleveland Clinic has expanded its flexible scheduling options to help recruit talented caregivers.
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“As the healthcare industry continues to evolve in complexity, now more than ever it is incumbent upon us to innovate and embrace flexibility to address the needs of our caregivers, working toward the goal of attracting and retaining them,” says Julie Fetto, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer of Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital.
One of the main benefits of a flexible schedule for nurses is the work-life balance it provides.
Melissa Buser, RN, a surgery nurse at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital who is also going to school to earn her BSN, switched to 12-hour OR team flexible shifts this year. She works opposite days from a colleague, who wanted 12-hour shifts to accommodate her childcare needs.
“I love my 12s so far,” says Buser. “I can make appointments and plan things in advance. I have more time for homework and spending time with family.”
That’s just what Cleveland Clinic nursing leaders intended when they created the Nursing Workforce Flexibility Taskforce. The group assembled all the flexibility initiatives developed by groups throughout the healthcare system looking at workforce optimization, established a process to evaluate them and made recommendations on which ones to implement for nursing. It also created a flexible workforce resource guide for leaders to provide scheduling options, as well as guidelines for selecting options and conducting unit and caregiver needs assessments.
The Cleveland Clinic health system offers many options for clinical nurses. These include:
“There is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Dusty Burke, MSN, RN, C-EFM, Director of Nursing Operations at Cleveland Clinic and co-leader of the Nursing Workforce Flexibility Taskforce. “Each caregiver is unique, and each nursing unit has unique needs.”
As nurse manager of the progressive care unit at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital, Chad Ziegler, BSN, RN, NE-BC, appreciates having flexible scheduling options to offer caregivers. He has hired four clinical nurses in split RN positions – one between the progressive care unit (PCU) and intensive care unit and three between a medical-surgical unit and the PCU.
“Current recruitment for medical-surgical areas has been challenging over the last two years, and this creates an enticing position for new grad nurses,” he says. “This opportunity gives registered nurses the opportunity to learn in different acuity environments. It also allows for dynamic teamwork between units. When a nurse floats it can be uncomfortable, and these positions help ease the transition.”
Cleveland Clinic nurse leaders offer advice for peers who are considering or developing flexible scheduling options:
“We are challenged daily to meet the needs of our patients, our caregivers and our organization in a market like we have never seen,” says Burke. “Building a culture and workforce that is adaptable and that embraces opportunities that come with change is essential.”