December 07, 2015 | | Comments 0
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Temp is not the same as terrible: Study finds supplemental nurses have no negative effect on quality

What do you do when you don’t have enough nurses on staff and don’t have the funds to hire additional staff? A possible solution is to hire temporary nurses to fill the gaps made by retiring staff, seasonal needs, or new medical programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services found that there are 88,495 temporary nurses working in the U.S., making up 3.4% of the total nursing population. Most temporary nurses are experienced travel nurses who work with a hospital on three- to six-month contracts before moving on.

Yet many nurse managers are leery of using temp nurses because of a longstanding stigma associating such nurses with lower quality care. This belief has been reinforced by media exposés on shoddy temp agencies skimping on background checks and allowing temps to jump from hospital to hospital to avoid misconduct charges.

However, a study published in The Journal of Nursing Care Quality contradicts that belief, finding that as long as hospitals do their due diligence when hiring temps, quality does not suffer.

“There are a lot of myths in healthcare. One is the myth that temporary nurses are bad for quality,” says researcher Linda Aitken, PhD, RN, and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania. “That is really not true. We have not found that at any level.”.

The study recommends the following steps to take before hiring a temp nurse or using a temp agency:

• Do your due diligence. Check nurses’ backgrounds or the agency’s reputation before hiring them.

• Make sure they have the credentials for the job you need. A temp nurse who’s worked primarily in outpatient care should not be hired to work in the ER.

• Make sure temps are given the same training and consideration as full-timers. • Maintain a ratio of 90% full-time nurses to 10% temporary nurses

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Filed Under: Quality of carestaff developmentUncategorized

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Brian Ward About the Author: Brian Ward is an Associate Editor at HCPro working on nurse management.

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