To maintain staffing levels, Dr. Grant says it’s important that nonclinical staff understand the value of nurses. While the chief nursing officer is advocating for more full-time positions, “he or she may not have the strings to pull. Often, it’s the (chief financial officer) CFO or (chief operating officer) COO who you really have to convince.”
Addressing staff shortages
He suggests inviting executives to shadow a nurse for a day and to “experience everything they do,” including no lunch or bathroom breaks, if that is the case on a particular day.
Too often nurses step in to cover for staffing shortages, “which becomes a pattern, and pretty soon it becomes an expectation, instead of nurses saying, ‘no, this is not safe,”’ said Dr. Grant.
In terms of recruiting more nurses to offset staff loss, Dr. Grant says there are wait lists for nursing schools, partially because there are not enough trained faculty nor available space and clinical opportunities to meet requirements and demand. Congress recently approved funding for nurse education and research; however, “it takes some time for money to free up. In the meantime, we’re still seeing a huge deficit.”
Despite the ongoing nurse staffing shortages and other challenges, Dr. Grant sees positive, long-term outcomes from the pandemic.
“I never would have thought when I started in 2019 that we would be where we are today,” said Dr. Grant, who ended his second, two-year term in December 2022. “COVID changed the trajectory, but it also sped things up. The good news is that we are now able to address these issues head on at a much faster pace than we thought possible.”
This interview was brought to you by the Medline Institute. Learn more about the healthcare leadership seminars offered through the Medline Institute .