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Breaking Down the Barriers to Decrease Travel Nurse Dependency

Published January 16, 2023
Staff RNs and travel nurses working at an understaffed hospital or health care system.

The growing demand for patient care and limited RN talent has U.S. health systems at a crossroads. Many hospitals continue to rely on travel nurse agencies to cover staffing shortfalls. It’s not enough, and the overreliance affects more than the bottom line. Recent nurse strikes in New York City highlight how nurses across the country feel about staff levels and patient risk.

Simply put, the healthcare industry has reached a critical point where leaders must find solutions to ease the immense strain that hospitals and nurses are experiencing. Now is the time for health systems to consider options that make sense fiscally but also contribute positively to their talent acquisition strategy, staff retention, and company culture. 

Outsource the Recruitment Process, Not the Nurses

premium-labor-costWith a travel nurse staffing agency, you’re paying for the nurse, overhead, travel, and lodging, all with an enormous markup. On average, hospitals spend $125/hour for a travel nurse versus $45/hour + benefits burden for a core staff RN. The result; the premium labor cost for one travel nurse averages $128,700 annually.

In contrast, engaging with a partner to outsource the recruiting process could save you millions. (In fact, Hueman RPO helped a partner save $48 million+ by decreasing their travel nurse usage by 61%.) 

RPO, or recruitment process outsourcing, is a form of business outsourcing where a hospital or healthcare system transfers all or part(s) of its recruitment process to an RPO partner. Partnering with an RPO can help hospitals reduce travel nurse dependency by quickly hiring qualified core staff nurses.  

With an RPO, you are investing in a team of experts that dedicate 100% of their time to sourcing and recruitment efforts to find core staff candidates that align with a hospital system’s culture and values. This partnership provides dedicated and managed recruiters, advertising dollars, technology, tools, and best practices for sourcing.

Group 1611

Hueman RPO Travel Nurse Reduction Program 

We launched our Travel Nurse Reduction Program in response to the financial difficulties many healthcare systems are experiencing due to an overreliance on travel nurses. Our innovative program allows hospitals to lower premium labor expenses by filling RN openings with core staff nurses. We leverage value-based hiring tactics, cutting-edge technology, and the expertise of our recruiters to hire qualified nurses while saving you money.  

In addition, we work with health systems to reduce premium labor expenses and avoid any additional financial strain. This low-risk program further protects hospital budgets through service-level agreements (SLA) to ensure we successfully deliver on your talent acquisition needs.  

Hueman has decades of experience providing world-class talent solutions to hospitals and healthcare systems. With our extensive history in the industry, we’ve grown a deep understanding of the intricacies of the healthcare industry and its unique talent challenges. We leverage our expertise, proprietary recruitment strategies, and industry insights to support our customers despite the market’s challenges. 

To learn more about Hueman RPO’s Travel Nurse Reduction Program, check out our dedicated solutions page, or contact us today.  

Hesitant to Outsource to Something New?

Despite the low-risk structure of an RPO partnership, being hesitant to outsource your recruitment is understandable. Let’s review some leaders’ most common hesitations and questions when considering an RPO partner as a solution.

"I’m already spending too much on premium labor; I can’t afford additional recruiting expenses."

Working with an RPO is a great low-risk option for health systems concerned about protecting their budgets. Often, RPOs establish service-level agreements (SLA) to help hospitals mitigate their risks. These contracts hold RPOs accountable for mutually agreed-upon performance and saving guarantees, including the number of hires, time-to-fill, and quality of hires. 

The cost of an RPO partnership encompasses all recruitment-related expenses, including recruiter salaries, technology, recruitment tools, and digital marketing costs. Bundling these costs can help an organization’s bottom line in the long run. In addition to lowering premium labor spend, you can expect substantial cost-savings across the following: 

  • Decreased agency spend   
  • Reduced time-to-fill 
  • Reduced turnover rates  
  • Enhanced candidate quality 

The potential cost-savings may outweigh the cost of what you’re spending on travel nurses. Plus, the partnership’s valuable resources can help your long-term recruitment efforts. The right partner will work within each hospital’s unique needs and budget to curate a customized program that works for them.

"The time to implement a solution will take too long, and my team does not have the capacity to help." 

An efficient implementation and transition process is crucial to set the stage for a successful partnership. Good RPO providers have dedicated implementation teams that manage the process from start to finish, requiring minimal time commitment from your team. An experienced implementation manager will use technology, processes, and best practices to quickly integrate RPO services into health systems so you can start reaping the benefits of the partnership.  

RPOs also take the burden of recruitment from your HR team, giving them more time to focus on other critical business areas. They become an extension of your team, working within your systems to avoid additional expenses – including your ATS, email, and HRIS.   

"I need travel nurses to maintain safe staffing levels."

Patient safety is jeopardized when a hospital is experiencing a nurse shortage, and there’s no doubt that travel nurses have helped lower that risk in recent years. However, safe staffing levels can be attained by filling open staff nursing positions and minimizing the number of travel nurses to an appropriate level that does not deplete your budget. The proper balance of travel nurses with core staff nurses is integral for budget health, patient care, and core values.  

Group 1610An RPO serves as a consultative partner that works closely with hospital teams to ensure safe staffing levels and continuity of care. Leveraging data — such as recruitment metrics and forecasting— can help health systems proactively prepare for talent needs to protect employees and patients. Another program an RPO can establish is a float-pool model to ensure the safe continuation of care.  

"Is working with an RPO really going to improve our culture?"

The main challenge in hiring and retaining staff nurses is providing a work environment that allows them to do what they’re passionate about – helping patients.  

An RPO can help hospitals reach adequate staffing levels by quickly hiring core staff nurses to reduce the number of travel nurses, ease the tension of pay inequities, and improve nurse retention. A good RPO takes the time to learn about your unique values and mission to hire nurses who align with your culture, resulting in stronger teams and long-term hires.   

RPOs can also help hospitals meet hiring goals, including improving their DEI initiatives. They provide robust pipelines of diverse nurses through inclusive job descriptions, data-driven sourcing strategies, and interview training to build a nursing team representative of the communities you serve. 

Reducing premium labor spend results in significant cost-savings that hospitals can allocate toward creating a workplace where nurses can thrive. These highly stressful past few years have left nurses yearning for a workplace where they are valued and engaged. Investing in programs to improve employee engagement and satisfaction, such as mental health and well-being programs, educational and professional advancement opportunities, and ensuring a healthy work environment can repay your hospital tenfold. A good RPO partner will offer consultative services related to employee engagement and retention that you can leverage for your workplace. 

"I have an in-house recruiter; I don’t need to pay for another." 
rpo-kpi-accountability

In-house talent acquisition departments typically have other areas of responsibility, such as recruiting for different departments and onboarding, that prevent them from dedicating the time needed to recruit nurses in this historically tight labor market.   

RPO recruiters are highly specialized and dedicate 100% of their time to sourcing, screening, and hiring qualified candidates. Plus, they have access to the latest recruitment tools, technology, marketing, and paid advertising to attract nurses over competitors.  

A strong RPO partner holds their recruiters accountable for the KPIs agreed upon in the service-level agreement (SLA) to ensure efficient work processes to meet hiring goals. Setting clear deliverables and timelines helps improve recruitment results and facilitates communication between recruiters and hiring managers, a key component to building successful partnerships.   

To learn more about Hueman RPO’s Travel Nurse Reduction Program, check out our dedicated solutions page, or contact us today.  

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  • Topics: 
  • Benefits to RPO,
  • Healthcare,
  • Recruitment Strategy