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Archive October 2018 XIX, No. 10

Staffing:Develop Your Own Homegrown OR Talent

Fewer temps and travel nurses give us greater staffing stability

Donna Amado

Donna Amado, MSN, RN, CNOR


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
HOMESCHOOLED Teaching inexperienced OR nurses about surgery ensures you have a pipeline of RNs to fill your staffing needs.

If you rely on temps and travel nurses to fill your staffing needs, you're well aware of the many challenges. Not only is there the endless cycle of interviewing, onboarding and offboarding new nurses, there's also the impact a revolving cast of nurses has on your core staff and surgeons. By the time you get travelers on their feet and feeling comfortable, their 16-week contract is just about up. How are you supposed to build team dynamics with a team that's constantly changing? Answer: You're not.

That's why we fill our ORs with nurses whom we hope will stay with us for years, not weeks. We did so by working with a local nursing college to create a "Periop 101" training and clinical orientation program for aspiring OR nurses who have a strong desire to work in surgery. I oversee the training program, which pulls candidates in 2 ways:

  • In-house. Through our internal transition program, our HR department reaches out to and interviews nurses who have an interest in working in the OR. With this group, our hospital pays for their registration in the college program. They start on the coursework before beginning clinical orientation in the OR with a full-time preceptor. The nurses continue taking classes at the college for 6 months, until the final exam is given. When nurses complete the program and are ready for potential hire, they're already partially oriented in the OR.
  • Remotely. Non-employee nurses register with our partner college and complete the same didactic program, but, instead of a full-time clinical experience, this group spends 24 days in the OR (2 days per week over 12 weeks) at an assigned local hospital. Although these interns don't orient as quickly as internal RNs, they are highly motivated to succeed because, unlike nurses in the internal transition program, they pay $3,995 out of pocket for the 6-month program.

Since we launched the program in the Fall of 2016, we've added 13 new OR nurses to our team, created an invaluable pipeline of potential candidates and, most importantly, cut our travel RNs from 17 to 8. Here are 3 keys to our success.

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