The shortage of medical specialists, such as nurses, has become one of the main problems for healthcare organizations at present times. In most cases, this is due to the spread of the covid-19 pandemic, which increases the percentage of sick leave, professional burnout, inability to go to work for family reasons, and restrictions on medical students to go to work. All these conditions set institutions the task of forming strategies that will help to cope with the issue that has arisen. Thus, this research paper focuses on the effect of staff reduction and how healthcare organizations can deal with it.
The first aspect that requires attention is the consideration of the reasons for the decrease in the number of working staff in hospitals and clinics. The main one is the emerging pandemic, which significantly reduces the number of nurses in the workplace. This is influenced by factors such as the disease of medical workers, which is worsened by the fact that the disease can be complex and deprive people of the opportunity to work for a long time. In the same way, many leave the workplace due to the deterioration of the condition of relatives who require constant care. Another reason is the restrictions imposed by educational institutions. So, many limit the powers and capabilities of medical students in what duties they can perform. An equally important obstacle is physical and psychological exhaustion due to the heavy workload at work, which results in burnout and dismissal of nurses.
Taking into account all these factors, healthcare organizations should resort to using strategies to improve working conditions and reduce the shortage of workers. Studies from previous years show that already in 2020, the shortage of medical specialists was 800,000 people (“Strategies to mitigate healthcare personnel staffing shortages,” 2022). The need to take measures is because a small number of professional nurses can negatively affect the quality of services provided and reduce the productivity of a hospital or clinic.
One of the most important measures is the development of a plan to prevent the negative consequences of reducing the number of working staff. One such measure is “crisis capacity strategies, augment conventional strategies which are meant to be considered and implemented sequentially” (“Strategies to mitigate healthcare personnel staffing shortages,” 2022, p. 3). Thus, it is essential to introduce and spread preventive measures to reduce morbidity (Marć et al., 2019). This includes supplying personnel with equipment such as masks and specialized suits. Moreover, the vaccination of personnel is necessary to increase the collective immunity of medical workers. This also implies maintaining statistics on such indicators as staff temperature, reasons for non-attendance at work, and symptoms before and after the start of the working day. If there are symptoms of covid disease, the medical worker either leaves the workplace and, if possible, is replaced by another or does not go on shift at all to reduce the likelihood of infection of other specialists or patients.
In addition, it is necessary to research the level of staff satisfaction with the workplace and the level of security in the organization. This includes various surveys to determine the needs of medical professionals. Another part of the strategy is to maintain the percentage of staff in hospitals and clinics in consultation with local healthcare providers and state and local health partners. It will also contribute to understanding the measures for implementation. Outsourcing or hiring additional staff for positions and duties where there is a significant shortage may also help.
As already noted, contingency capacity strategies may be of particular value. To increase their effectiveness, healthcare organizations involve the Human Resources department. The steps used in this case are changing the work schedule and rotating staff to ensure a uniform load on employees. Moreover, some healthcare organizations are reducing the focus on more minor necessary procedures and visits to free up some nurses. In addition, improved training programs are being introduced, which can expand the scope of authority of clinical specialists (Marć et al., 2019). In the case of outsourcing and employees who live far from a hospital or clinic, organizations apply measures to provide transport and housing. This will provide an opportunity for quick access to the necessary professionals in critical situations. Additionally, planning a strategy to limit the shortage of staff includes the development of a list of actions that will be taken during the outbreak of the disease.
In conclusion, this work considered the effect of reducing medical personnel on the organization. Moreover, measures and strategies that are used to reduce negative factors were considered. Among them can be highlighted a high percentage of morbidity, professional burnout, and a decrease in the number of additional staff in the person of medical students. The steps that are taken by medical institutions are the application of specialized plans to respond to emergencies. In addition, various preventive measures are carried out to reduce morbidity, such as checking symptoms, vaccinating staff, and wearing masks. Therefore, all these measures can show particular effectiveness in combating a decrease in the number of employees in a healthcare facility.
Marć, M., Bartosiewicz, A., Burzyńska, J., Chmiel, Z., & Januszewicz, P. (2019). A nursing shortage – a prospect of global and local policies. International Nursing Review, 66(1), 9-16.
Strategies to mitigate healthcare personnel staffing shortages. (2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.