published on
March 15, 2024

Why is there a nurse staffing crisis in healthcare?

posted on
Healthcare organizations

There’s a growing staffing crisis in healthcare, especially for nurses.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, health care staff were in short supply. The pandemic just exacerbated the shortage. 

Care professionals have been working 18 million overtime hours, the equivalent of 9,000+ full-time jobs, while performing 13% fewer surgeries (CIHI, 2023).

Unmanageable workloads, high demand and a shortage of staff have led to major problems across all healthcare sectors.

And we’re still seeing staff shortages across the entire healthcare system.

How big is the nursing crisis?

Nurses, in particular, are struggling to keep up with high workloads, and healthcare organizations are grappling with nurse shortages.

There has been an almost 220% increase in nursing vacancies since 2017, with 50% of nurses saying they are considering leaving their job (CHWN and CFNU, 2022).  

Nurses are also reporting unsafe nurse to patient ratios, where they are caring for more patients than they can safely manage.

The consequences of staff shortages

This staffing crisis in healthcare has led to unplanned closures of critical services, patient safety concerns and a decrease in quality of care.

For staff themselves, burnout rates have skyrocketed (94% of nurses surveyed), mental health problems are on the rise, and care professionals are leaving the profession or retiring early.

This continues to cause challenges for healthcare organizations’ operations and standards of care.

Top 5 reasons there’s a staffing crisis in healthcare

While the factors that impact the healthcare industry are complex, there are a few reasons that show up repeatedly in surveys, studies and reports on the topic.

We’ve compiled the top five reasons for the current staffing crisis:

  1. Staff shortages, especially for nurses
  2. High workloads, leading to burnout and sick leaves
  3. Unsafe nurse to patient ratios, leading to staff leaving their jobs or the profession
  4. Mental health challenges with little or no support
  5. Staff unable to take time off for a work-life balance

What you can do about the staffing crisis

To ensure your staff are well taken care of, here are five ways to mitigate the staffing crisis. 

  1. Have a staffing plan: know how you will manage when staff call in sick, leave your facility or request time off. 
  2. Make sure workloads are distributed evenly, so that staff get regular breaks.
  3. Provide mental health support to your staff through an EAP or external service.
  4. Implement a consistent and attractive staff recognition program and reward system for providing excellent care. 
  5. Create a robust professional development program so staff feel they have the skills and knowledge required to do the job they love.

Our staffing solution

Florence is your staff shortages helper. Our app helps you make sure you’re always covered, prioritising your own staff first.

With Florence, you fill shifts in 30 seconds: once you post a shift, staff will receive an SMS, and can accept with a tap. No need for them to download the app or have technical knowledge.

If no staff are available, access our 7,000+ network of healthcare professionals to help you out. They’ve been vetted by us and are qualified to start right away.

If you find a great fit, invite that individual back over and over again. 

Some of Florence’s outstanding features:

  • Automated broadcasting of shifts
  • Review candidate profiles to choose the best fit for your facility
  • Automated document and timesheet management
  • Union compliant
  • No agency premiums or extra fees

You can learn more about Florence here or talk to our friendly team who can walk you through a demo.

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