UPMC hopes that internal staffing agencies can help solve the nursing crisis


UPMC is launching it as the legendary story of recruiting nurses charged by an internal travel agency.

The academic health system in Pittsburgh aims to recruit (internal and external) approximately 800 nurses and 13 surgical technicians to participate in its travel program. Leaders there said they hope that providing workers with this option can add a tool to their recruitment toolbox. Unlike a typical staffing agency, this agency will only provide services to UPMC’s 40 hospitals and other facilities.

“This is bold. This is new. We will try it,” said Tami Minnier, UPMC’s Chief Quality and Operational Excellence Officer. “In solving this problem, we will learn and find the best solution.”

Minnier said UPMC has lost nurses to the tourism industry, which is a particularly disruptive trend because the system has withstood a severe shortage of nurses.The governor of Pennsylvania asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday Dispatch a “commando” for the hospital And other healthcare providers.

The goal is to motivate UPMC employees who want to try travel care at UPMC. She said that in this way, they can keep their benefits, retirement plans, seniority, and return to the same position and location after finishing their work. UPMC will relocate employees participating in the travel program every six weeks.

“If you can reinvent yourself, but still stay in the same company, boy, we think this is a real win-win situation,” Minnier said.

UPMC also hopes to attract nurses from other parts of the country to Pennsylvania, where most of its 40 hospitals are located. The system also has a hospital in New York and a hospital in Maryland.

UPMC will pay the nurses participating in the program an hourly remuneration of $85. Surgical technicians can earn $63 per hour. Minnier said she believes these rates will be competitive with traditional HR intermediaries. She said that although the current average salary of personnel agencies nationwide is between US$200 and US$225 per hour, the income of nurses is much lower.

“A large part of this will be used for the profits of these companies,” she said. “I am totally in favor of competition, but we are also in the midst of a pandemic in healthcare. We have a social responsibility in healthcare to take care of people.”

Not all staffing agencies provide benefits, so UPMC believes this will be another incentive.

“Our welfare package is very rich; very reliable,” Minnier said. “It adds a large percentage to the hourly rate.”

Part of the reason UPMC did this is that it is one of the few organizations with resources, Adam Seth Litwin, associate professor of industry and labor relations at Cornell University, wrote in an email. UPMC draws $23 billion in revenue In 2020.

Not only that, UPMC has tried more targeted recruitment strategies, such as signing bonuses, and wants to try some big and bold things, Litwin said.

“As they work to resolve their staffing issues, they may include registered nurses who do not want or need to be in the greater Pittsburgh area into the recruitment network,” he said. “So they realized,’As long as we have this large machine up and running, why not try to participate in it too?'”

Earlier this week, nurses from UPMC Altoona Visited the system headquarters in Pittsburgh To solve the staffing crisis. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania’s member nurses encourage attention to recruitment and retention, rather than rewards and travel nurses.

Minnier of UPMC said that the system has gone all out in recruiting. In the past six months, it has added bonuses for sign-in, bonuses for extra shifts, and bonuses for weekend work and off-duty. She said that not all unions accept these benefits.

Jodi Faltin, a registered nurse at UPMC Shadyside in Pittsburgh, said she believes UPMC can do more in terms of recruitment and retention. She said that so far, most of the focus of the system seems to have been on signing bonuses for new nurses.

“But they didn’t provide anything for those of us who have been there and continue to stay,” Falting said. “When they proposed these recruitment and retention plans, they didn’t ask us what kept us in our position.”

Falting said UPMC nurses are asking for higher basic wages, night and weekend work, and wages in response to hospital emergencies (such as internal strokes).

Faltin is working to unite more UPMC hospitals through SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. She said she doubts that this new staffing agency will add a lot of value to UPMC’s existing plan, which allows nurses to accept shifts from different hospitals across the system.

She said: “I am also confused, where they think they will find all these nurses.” “I know some units may have more staff, but I don’t think there are nurses sitting there doing nothing.”



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