For every medical center—within and beyond Partners HealthCare—the staffing of nurses is a calibrated balance of several factors: numbers of patients, intensity of care required, and the actual availability of nurses. And like many medical centers, Partners institutions have long relied on short-term “travelers”—nurses recruited from across the country through agencies to bridge staffing gaps as they arise. But thanks to a new initiative launched through Partners 2.0, the process of meeting nursing needs throughout Partners is becoming both more effective—and less costly.
The program, conceived by the Partners Chief Nurses Council and a Partners 2.0 nursing committee, trains and hires recent nursing school graduates to cover short-term absences and seasonal influxes of patients, with the resources of the Partners-owned Bulfinch Temporary Service. “Having a team of enthusiastic nurses trained in the Partners system is enabling us to seamlessly respond to changing staffing demands in real-time,” observes Michael Gaudreau, BSN, Nurse Director, North Shore Medical Center.
This approach has already yielded both patient and Partners benefits. Since standardizing processes and clinical record-keeping across Partners hospitals, nurses use the same systems and procedures from one assignment to the next—ensuring high quality of care standards are met. The in-house approach eliminates costly administrative fees associated with recruiting traveling nurses, along with the training and housing fees they typically incur. And the program has already proven itself an effective recruitment tool, with 14 nurses accepting permanent roles at Partners institutions, already trained in their hospitals’ practices.
All told, the initiative is expected to save Partners upward of $9 million over the next five years, according to Steven Taranto, Director of Human Resources at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We are filling gaps with qualified staff faster—some of those roles are filled permanently, and the overall cost is lower,” he notes. “This is a great example of Partners 2.0 thinking at work.”