"We've got the perfect storm here , a shortage of health care providers just when the mass of our population is going to require health care services," as it ages, said Maria Strom, chief nursing officer for St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital.
"We knew we needed to do something different."
According to a statewide workforce study by the Detroit office of Watson Wyatt Worldwide
for six local health care systems, the state can expect to see a shortage of 18,000 nurses by 2015, Strom
The six local health care systems looked at in the study , St. John, Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, William Beaumont Hospitals, Oakwood Health System and Trinity Health
, will have a combined shortage of 10,000 nurses, she
A new, internal contingency nurse pool, dubbed FlexChoice, has helped St. John
attract more than 200 new nurses who would have otherwise gone to a contract agency, said Strom
Under the program, the more flexible a nurse is in their work schedule, the more they can earn.As a side benefit, St. John
has nearly ended its use of contract nurses, saving $2 million in agency fees, Strom
also has established a nurse residency program to provide hands-on orientation for nurses and is working to recruit nurses from places such as Taiwan, China, India and the Philippines through an intensive, two-year process.So far, the effort has brought 48 new nurses to St. John
And St. John
is working with local colleges like Madonna University
and Oakland University
to recruit nurses who've returned to school to refresh their skills and to train college students in their last year of school, minimizing the amount of on-site orientation needed.
To increase retention, St. John
has also created a senior nurse consultant position for veteran nurses who can't meet the physical demands of bedside care, through a pilot program at Providence Hospital
in Novi.In the new role, they serve as mentors for new nurses.
The health system is incorporating a safe-lifting program from its parent Ascension Health, in an effort to reduce the number of back injuries nurses suffer, Strom
Several Six Sigma projects underway at the system are targeting more efficient processes for bedside care.
For example, up to 60 percent of a nurse's time typically is spent hunting for and gathering equipment, supplies and lines, Strom
said.St. John Hospital
in Detroit hired four "runners" about six months ago to track down equipment for nurses and deliver it within a specified time, investing about $250,000.
In its first year, St. John
estimates the new "equipment on demand" program will save an estimated 13,104 hours of nursing time, the equivalent of six nurses, St. John
"The nurses say this is the best thing we've ever done in years, so we know it's working," Strom