Healthcare Credentialing | symplr Blog

Nurse Credentialing for Contractors: Big Winner or Major Pain?

Written by Tracey Meyer | Nov 6, 2015 3:14:22 PM

Wondering where all of the nurses have gone? As the population ages, and with recent reforms in healthcare, everyone has been forced to face the realities of a nationwide shortage of nurses – a reality that isn’t expected to get better anytime soon according to the American Nurses Association.

As a result, many hospitals and healthcare facilities have begun turning to contract labor to meet their growing need for qualified nursing staff. In fact, according to a recent article in American Nurse Today, more than 80% of U.S. magnet hospitals, including many leading medical centers, contract temporary nursing staff. These facilities often use temporary nursing staff strategically in order to cover gaps in scheduling due to vacation, maternity needs, or another leave of absence, or to provide relief for overworked permanent staff. The payoff is improved patient safety and quality of care. 

The use of temporary nursing labor is a cost-effective solution, which offers hospitals and medical facilities great flexibility and customization, but it can also expose them to incredible risk. With so many temporary faces, it can quickly become an HR nightmare making sure each contractor meets the necessary nurse credentialing standards.

In fact, it became such a pain that in 2003 the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) created a certification program specifically designed to help hospitals identify staffing services which could provide qualified nursing contractors. Still, with variations in procedures and quality requirements, meeting the unique needs of each facility can be difficult. This leads to a high need for each medical facility or hospital to create and enforce strict standardization of nurse credentialing.

Nurse credentialing for supplementary staff can get complicated quickly. Aa recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program found that registered nurses who work on short-term contracts tend to have similar education levels to those employed as permanent staff. But they also tend to be slightly less experienced, and often hold nursing licenses in multiple states, simultaneously. In fact, up to 13.7% of supplemental nurses worked in states in which they didn’t reside, compared with at most 4.5% of permanent nurses. This simultaneous licensure can complicate the process of nurse credentialing, and create an undue burden of verification on hospitals and medical facilities.

Still, the benefits of contracting with supplemental nursing staff are tangible. It gives hospitals and medical facilities the convenience and flexibility to increase or decrease staffing numbers to meet fluctuating demand. It also optimizes the nurse-patient ratios, which can help strengthen nurse morale, improve safety, and support high-quality patient care. Those are big wins that everyone can get on board with! And it is these benefits that are driving facilities to take initiative by partnering with third-party services that take out the pains of nurse credentialing on their behalf.

Nurse credentialing solutions, such as those offered by symplr, oversee the complicated process of obtaining, verifying, and assessing the qualifications of nurses. By reviewing and documenting evidence of current licensure, education, training, and other qualifications, nurse credentialing services help remove the burden of processing from overworked HR departments, reduce liability and risk, and streamline the staffing process. If your facility is ready for a cost-effective way to gain the flexibility and benefits of supplementary staffing, without absorbing unnecessary safety liability and risk, then a third-party nurse credentialing service is your solution!

Ready to take the pain away? If your hospital or medical facility is considering the use of nurse contractors, or simply looking to improve their current practices, contact the experts at symplr today! We'll help assess your healthcare organization's unique needs, and identify the solutions that help you reduce risk, improve employee morale, and increase the quality of patient care. Everyone wins!