How to Combat the Nursing Shortage Within Your Hospital

By Sarah Knight, ShiftMed Content Manager//Healthcare Staffing Solutions, Nurse Retention, Healthcare Industry
A nurse sitting in a hospital conference room with other healthcare professionals.

COVID-19 placed an immense strain on the nursing workforce, a burden that continues to impact hospitals and health systems nationwide. The intense workloads, heightened stress levels, and pervasive burnout are driving healthcare professionals to the brink, with many opting to leave the profession entirely. But there's still time to turn the ship around and overcome the nursing shortage within your hospital.

Nursing Shortage Statistics

The 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey by NCSBN paints a stark picture of the nursing shortage, revealing a staggering 800,000 registered nurses and 184,000 licensed practical nurses are likely to exit the profession by 2027—that's 20% of our country's licensed RNs and LPNs.

Alternatives to Solving Healthcare Staffing Woes

The looming departure of healthcare workers underscores the urgent need for systemic changes to support and retain our invaluable nursing workforce. Hospitals and health systems must take decisive actions to improve working conditions, reduce stress and burnout, and recruit and retain more nursing professionals.

Last year, ShiftMed surveyed over 100 U.S. healthcare executives, including CEOs, COOs, and CNOs, to identify the key factors influencing hospital staffing decisions. The survey revealed that more and more hospitals facing healthcare staffing shortages are using alternative approaches to boost recruitment and retention rates.

Modern staffing strategies and advanced workforce management technologies make achieving and maintaining ideal nurse-to-patient ratios easier. By moving away from traditional approaches that involve expensive nursing agency contracts and leveraging innovative tools, hospitals can effectively turn the tide and win the battle against the nursing shortage.

Flexible Schedules and Work-Life Balance Lead the Way

Many nurses voluntarily resign from their posts because of inflexible scheduling, poor working conditions, and inadequate staffing ratios. Incentivizing nurses to join (or remain at) your hospital demands a fresh approach and a reimagined operational strategy.

Recent nursing surveys highlight a critical truth within the healthcare sector: the need for flexible job schedules transcends nurses' age and experience level. According to four frontline nursing surveys conducted by McKinsey & Company, respondents consistently ranked flexibility, meaning, and balance as the most critical factors influencing their decision to remain in direct patient care.

An illustration of a nurse holding a sign that says 58% of nurses consider work-life balance the most important factor in work satisfaction.

So, how can your hospital offer flexible work schedules to nursing staff without compromising patient care or experiencing financial strain?

Embracing workforce management solutions that prioritize your hospital’s internal staff while building local contingent labor pools as a backup is an excellent strategy. For instance, ShiftMed can optimize staffing efficiency and reduce costs by filling shift vacancies with your internal full-time and float pool staff before turning to external labor. This approach ensures effective utilization of your primary workforce, enhancing overall operational efficiency and financial sustainability.

When your hospital needs additional clinical support, ShiftMed has a network of credentialed per diem nurses ready to step in and assist on demand. How does it work?

ShiftMed is a cloud-based platform integrating workforce management technology with a nationwide network of over 350,000 credentialed W-2 healthcare professionals ready to fill shift vacancies as needed. ShiftMed is the employer of record for these W-2 nurses, minimizing your hospital's legal and financial liability.

While some healthcare facilities mistakenly believe that per diem nurses are unreliable and lower the continuity of care, this thought process doesn't hold up under scrutiny. As mentioned earlier, nurses want more job flexibility. By giving nurses control over their schedules, they can achieve the work-life balance they crave, reducing the likelihood of no-shows.

Moreover, the belief that per diem nurses cost more than full-time staff is a myth. Often, healthcare facilities fail to track or calculate the fully burdened cost of care. When evaluating the cost of care, looking beyond employee wages, payroll taxes, and health insurance is essential. Facilities must also factor in turnover, overtime pay, and all benefit expenses. Considering these factors makes it clear that per diem nurses can be a cost-effective solution.

An illustration of a male nurse holding a sign with text that says 30% of all newbie nurses surveyed left their jobs within a year of service, contributing to 40% of total nurse turnover.

Top 4 Reasons to Choose ShiftMed

By embracing ShiftMed workforce management solutions, your hospital can create a more sustainable and supportive work environment.

1. Labor Savings

ShiftMed can help your hospital reduce costs associated with overtime, long-term travel contracts, and administrative overhead. With 24/7 access to our local pool of credentialed nurses, you can fill scheduling gaps on demand, perfectly aligning your nurse staffing with patient volumes and ensuring financial efficiency.

2. Operational Efficiency

ShiftMed can help your hospital quickly adapt to fluctuating patient volumes and acuity levels. The platform leverages artificial intelligence, including machine learning and predictive analytics, to anticipate staffing needs, automate administrative tasks, and improve workforce management.

3. Local Float Pools

ShiftMed can assist your hospital in establishing and managing local float pools, ensuring a reliable supply of qualified nurses available to fill shift vacancies promptly. This approach provides crucial flexibility, allowing your hospital to respond swiftly to staffing needs without depending on costly nursing agency contracts. Moreover, we ensure that our W-2 nurses undergo the same onboarding, LMS training, and orientations as your internal nursing staff, providing seamless integration and consistent care quality.

4. Improve Morale

ShiftMed reliably fills your shifts with experienced nurses, helping prevent burnout and boosting morale among your permanent staff. This quality clinical support ensures your core nursing team can take well-deserved time off without compromising patient care.


Combating the nursing shortage requires a multifaceted approach that combines innovative workforce solutions with a supportive work environment. The challenges posed by COVID-19 have amplified the urgency for hospitals and health systems to rethink traditional staffing practices and embrace modern technologies like ShiftMed. By prioritizing flexibility, efficiency, and quality of care, hospitals can attract and retain skilled nursing professionals and enhance overall operational resilience.

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