by Lauren Durniak, Account Coordinator
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and health systems have faced a multitude of challenges, from nursing shortages to supply shortages. With many healthcare workers feeling the effects of burnout, and emergency rooms becoming more overwhelmed, what exactly is causing these problems, and where can we look to solve them?
I recently attended the Boston Globe Summit event, “Hospitals on the Brink: Working to Resolve Staff and Supply Shortages” hosted by Boston Globe healthcare reporter Jessica Bartlett. Jessica discussed the current state and future of healthcare with Spiros Hatiras, President and CEO, Valley Health Systems / Holyoke Medical Center, Katie Murphy, RN, President of Massachusetts Nurses Association, and Joanne Pokaski, Assistant Vice President, Workforce Development, Beth Israel Lahey Health. Below are the three main takeaways I pulled from this session after hearing the insights and reflections from these healthcare experts.
Allied health roles are key
Allied health professions like medical and nursing assistants are crucial to health systems, and hospitals around the country are struggling to fill them. With hospitals facing continued challenges, these roles provide support to resident nurses and help with clinician retention. Although these positions are key to the function of emergency rooms and hospitals, recruiting for these positions has remained difficult, partly because access to education and certification was reduced or delayed during the pandemic.
As staffing shortages are seen across the country and the Commonwealth, Massachusetts’ hospitals and health systems are focused on recruiting new employees and retaining their existing workforce. To effectively do so, leaders must continue their efforts to combat burnout, working together to find creative solutions that support nurse retention.
Prioritizing time off is essential for creating a work-life balance and is a key retention strategy. Additionally, helping employees access essential counseling and support services is crucial for supporting the workforce. Further solutions to boost employee retention include career services and robust benefits packages.
Rethinking training and certification
To work as a medical assistant, nursing assistant, or registered nurse, candidates must become certified through credentialing organizations. We need to think about training differently and work towards creating a more accessible accreditation process. The delays in the credential process affect future care for patients, and we need to consider how to speed this process up while maintaining the same level of rigor that has fostered our talented current workforce.
Hospitals across the Commonwealth are working to create pipeline programs that attract new workers and encourage them to grow within their organizations. Hospitals are also providing tuition matching and career counseling, prioritizing education for their employees to help them succeed in their current, and future roles.
All things considered, there is no single quick fix for the issues facing the healthcare sector at this time. We need to work collaboratively with caregivers across their organizations to address their needs. After all, a strong healthcare workforce means a healthier Commonwealth.