What to Do When You're Short Staffed

Being short-staffed on a medical shift can be one of the most frustrating and harrowing experiences in the professional world. Since the health and well-being of patients can literally hang in the balance, suddenly realizing that you do not have nearly enough hands on the floor can mean serious consequences.

Whether the short-staffing is the result of an error, unanticipated patient loads or a recurring problem in an underhanded health care facility, the medical staff must take quick steps to ensure that the quality of care does not diminish during their short-staffed shifts. Here are five techniques they can use to compensate when there are not enough people on the floor:

Contact Your Administrator or Supervisor Immediately

Supervisors and admins must be notified as soon as possible about any shifts that are short-staffed. Perhaps they can offer helpful resources or call additional people in, but at the very least they have a record of the event so that recurring problems can be tracked over time.

Stay Organized, Work as a Team and Practice Good Communication

Being disorganized or having poor communication on a short-staffed shift can waste precious time. Call a brief team meeting to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that tasks can be prioritized. Organization and efficiency tactics are key. For example, assistants and technicians can quickly pull and sort the needed supplies for most of the patients on the floor, allowing them to focus on other critical tasks while nurses handle direct patient care.

Teamwork is also critical. Individuals like admins who do not usually have direct patient contact must be willing to engage patients and provide care in pace with their subordinates. Everyone must also understand how to function efficiently and effectively even when tensions run high. Having staff meetings that focus on teamwork and organization during high-stress situations like short-staffed shifts can improve confidence and productivity in the long run.

Engage Patient Families

When hands are short, family members and other loved ones can provide a critical source of non-medical patient support. They may be able to get their loved ones’ water, hold their hand during a crucial time or brush their hair for them — all of which enable greater bonding and free up staff resources to focus on more critical medical needs. However, make sure not to indicate that your shift is short-staffed or else the family could become concerned.

Set Up a Medical Temp Service

Medical temp agencies can offer assistants, technicians and sometimes even RNs during times in which there are not enough people on the schedule or on the floor. Engage medical staffing companies preemptively so that you can quickly request additional staff during time-critical situations without having to fill out extra paperwork.

Look to a Medical Staffing Agency Recruiter

If short-staffing issues are a common problem that pops up once a month or more, your health care organization cannot afford to let further incidences risk patient outcomes. Enlisting the help of a recruiter over the long-term can help you fill gaps during staff turnovers and keep the needed level of skilled staff on hand at all times.

To learn more about what a recruiter could do for you, you can visit our medical staffing services information page.

BlogRey Rivera