More hospitals are seeing their operations suffer as the number of insured patients grows, and the number of physicians and nurses on staff dwindle. And the demands from the changing healthcare industry are taking their toll on the clinical staff. 

sb10063567o-001Physician burnout is especially high according to a new study from the Physician’s Foundation.

After polling 20,000 physicians, researchers found about 80% felt that they were over-worked and handling the maximum number of patients they could handle. Over half of the physicians surveyed complained that they suffered from “somewhat” to “very” low morale.

As a result, more physicians are planning to retire earlier than previously planned, contributing to an already worrisome physician shortage, especially in the primary care area.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to recruit and retain clinical staff members.

Short on physicians

Hospital leaders have struggled to fill in these staffing gaps, and a recent article from Fierce Healthcare offers some potential ways to fill the ranks.

One way to address the shortage would be to invest and participate in education and training opportunities.

For example, the Frontier and Rural Medicine program in South Dakota brings in different types of medical students to help out in rural hospitals. In month-long increments, student help deliver care and are exposed to the kinds of challenges facing rural healthcare providers.

Telemedicine also has been a key tool for facilities trying to compensate for the primary care physician shortage.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 2014 fee schedule included expanded coverage for telehealth. For the first time, providers will be paid for primary care services, like annual well visits, delivered remotely through videoconferencing technology.

Nursing a staff shortage

Providers are starting to leverage telemedicine provided by nonphysician providers, like nurses and physician assistants, to handle the shortage. However, this touches on a similar issue — the issue of finding and retaining a quality staff.

As Global Healthcare reports, there are several strategies hospital can utilize to help retain its nursing staff, including:

  • Allowing room for flexible scheduling. Having a  strong work-life balance can often be a strong motivator for employees to stick around, and nurses are no exception. Giving flexible scheduling options to your nursing staff can help them manage stress and create a positive work environment for them.
  • Promoting career development. It’s increasingly important that nurses now be given chances to further their education and training. Facilities that help them accomplish those tasks will not only see their operations improve from their more educated nurses, but also earn some of their loyalty for facilitating their development.
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