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Part-Time vs Per Diem Nurses: What should I hire?

The rise of COVID-19 has complicated matters for every business under the sun, but healthcare facilities have arguably been affected the most. Even in normal times, it was very difficult to gauge whether or not hiring “per diem'' travel nurses or employees would be the most effective way to tackle increased cases and workload. The rise of the pandemic and the subsequent spike in hospitalizations has forced facilities to face this quandary head on. Hospitals are now scrambling to find the best staffing solutions for their current workforce dilemma. Per diem nurses are an effective healthcare solution that has gained prominence in recent memory. Studies have shown that the per diem nurse staffing industry will be worth 11.1 billion USD in 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% between 2021 to 2028. That being said, any stable operation still needs permanent or part-time employees. Some companies end up having job openings that have been vacant since the beginning of the year. Look no further than the Ascension non profit organization based on Michigan. This company had 170 vacancies since March, with no end in sight in this regard.

Things are not as simple as staffing nothing but full-time or part-time contracts, however. On the other hand, hospitals must contend with their financial restrictions. Operation expenses continue to rise (especially labor related) while profits plummet. Since 2019, revenue has fallen as far as 4.8 while costs for discharges rose to 13.5. Companies have to account for their unique circumstances to find the perfect middle ground between profitability and effectiveness. In the end, what works best for you may not work perfectly for others and that is perfectly normal. How, then, can you select the best possible option for your situation? To answer this, you must consider these critical factors

Account for staffing budget when choosing part time vs per diem

Healthcare is a balancing act between managing cost and upholding a standard of quality. Cutting too many corners will inevitably harm care quality. At the same time, however, sparing no expenses whatsoever is an extremely unsustainable business model for any hospital looking to stay afloat. You need to work within the restraints of your budget limitations, while attempting to achieve the best quality possible with what you have. Consider the following financial-related concerns, moving forward: Can your fixed costs cover a certain amount of salaried healthcare professionals? Does this account for competitive salaries, benefits and training costs? If you cannot cover this, spend on per-diem healthcare professionals instead. You can bring them in when you need them, for as long as you need them.

Look into your facility’s current needs

A hospital or facility’s needs are fluid and ever changing, just like any other market. Hospitals often hire salaried employees to account for a steady demand, over a period of time. In the wake of the pandemic, it has become nearly impossible to predict a volatile healthcare market. Dramatic case spikes can completely throw a wrench in your plans. You may need all hands on deck one week, and much less nurses the very next one. Your staffing needs will change dramatically from week to week. With regards to the part time vs per diem conversation, the latter provides you the flexibility to hire qualified professionals as-needed and account for these sudden changes, as opposed to regular employees. As mentioned above, part-time work does have the benefit of consistency.

Evaluate the size of per-diem pool

Most facilities rely heavily on their regular salaried employees, as well as an internal pool of per-diem, part-time and full time employees. If your facility does not have a pool, it is highly recommended that you consider it as it is an extremely potent way to save on money. Some findings suggest that using this float pool will save you up to 5% on labor costs, if used wisely. Investing in this pool is a potent way to tackle labor issues. If your pool is lacking and you need help filling shortages, partner with Vitawerks to access a deep network of highly-qualified, thoroughly-vetted healthcare professionals.

Consider whether or not you have an immediate need

When a facility is looking for more manpower, chances are they need immediate staffing help. The ultimate knock on part time vs per diem is that very few rookie nurses are immediate contributors, when they enter a team. To realize their full potential, they need to be put through a thorough training program and need a couple weeks or months to adjust to the difficulty of their tasks, the systems in place and the everyday workflow. Recruiting and training employees takes too much time, in this regard. If you need to bolster your staffing in the long term, posting job openings and recruiting employees from your preferred channels is still a valid option. If you have to fill a vacancy as soon as possible, or you need to account for rapidly-changing demand, use internal and external resources to find per diem nurses as soon as possible. They will be prepared to take on jobs immediately and will integrate with the flow of work in no time at all.

State of the labor market

Nursing in both America and the world at large is experiencing a massive case of brain drain that the pandemic has only accelerated exponentially. Thanks to the increased stress and workload, nursing turnover has reached unprecedented heights as of late. HCPs are leaving acute healthcare facilities in droves and are either retiring very early or moving towards less stressful healthcare environments like home healthcare and ASCs, or shifting towards highly profitable per diem or travel nursing opportunities. Retaining part-time, vs per diem talent, is the hardest it has ever been. This is especially true for rural areas– workers in general are leaving those locations as hospitals find themselves perpetually under-equipped to handle the case load that has been thrust upon them.Even urban public hospitals are currently wrestling with rising COVID numbers and limited resources. When you hemorrhaging talent in this regard, technology-based staffing solutions like VitaWerks will help you adjust to these sudden vacancies. Find the best possible per-diem talent in your area to keep your facility running in these challenging times.

Embracing a new age

In reality, most facilities will be integrating some mix of per diem nurses and part-time or full time employees. Which you devote more resources to ultimately depends on what you are looking for, what you prioritize and what your current situation demands. Per diem professionals empower facilities with the flexibility to adjust for immediate demand. They do not hold you to 3-month contracts like part-time nurses and they provide both employer and employee the flexibility to work as needed. Attracting per-diem workers is also easier in some regards, since per diem work pays significantly more than part-time labor on average. The part time vs per diem debate ultimately depends on your situation. Once the pandemic subsides and hospitals see more stable patient volumes, they can commit to more full time employees. For all the advantages that per diem staffing boasts (and there are a lot of them), part time and full time employees let you better plan for the long term future of your facility. For the time being, however, there seems to be no immediate end in sight for this current state of affairs. While facilities contend with the ongoing COVID-19 dillmea, investing in per diem nursing will let you access the best possible healthcare professionals at the fraction of the time.

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