Key to the nursing shortage…increasing productivity

The Canadian Nurses Association released a report yesterday called Tested Solutions for Eliminating Canada’s Registered Nurse Shortage. The report findings demonstrate that if significant action isn’t taken now to eliminate the RN shortage,  the shortage will climb from the equivalent of nearly 11,000 full-time nurses in 2007 to almost 60,000 in 2022. In short, we are going off a cliff. The good news is that there is a solution. If the productivity of the RN workforce increases by just one per cent annually this will have a huge impact on the shortage, cutting it almost in half over a 15-year time frame.

Forget building fancy recruitment strategies…no need for cool swag at career fairs, overseas trips to recruit abroad. Just get more productive. But how? The typical way to increase productivity is to use incentives… talk to anyone who sells stuff what it’s like at the end of the month…But in a unionized environment how does one go about thinking about incentives? The report outlines a set of recommendations to increase productivity that include implementing a “team based approach to care” and technology amongst others. Helpful I guess, but they will require significant amounts of money and shifts in culture. And as a colleague of mine likes to say “true culture change takes at least six years”. So what to do… We need to get some good minds on this. Healthcare is going to be the issue of our generation – costs are continuing to increase and unlike education which faces similar demographic challenges, school enrollments are decreasing due to a shrinking birthrate. Not so with healthcare.  Any one have any thoughts?


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