Give Bedside Nurses a Reason to Stay: Tech That Works | ANA
Read the personal story of a nurse who turned burnout into nursing innovation by creating virtual technology that can encourage nurses to stay in the profession.
The number is 27%. That’s how many of us in nursing leave our jobs every year. And we can change that right now…
This is personal for me. In 2006, after 8 years at the bedside, I left too. I was the nurse you gave the hard patients to, who worked with the meanest surgeons, who as charge nurse would try to take as much of the load that I could. And this was the nature of my practice until one night when I was trying to find the strength to open the car door and show up for the shift report. But instead, I couldn’t stop the unexplainable tears.
The 47-year-old me knows 27-year-old me was burnt out but couldn’t identify it then. I called the sick line, drove home, and not long after landed my first job at a startup company that had nothing to do with healthcare. I was able to boomerang and return to nursing in 2009, eventually becoming a nursing executive at a global healthcare software company in 2012 and finally a founder of Nurse Disrupted in 2020. This experience has been the foundation of why I’ve devoted my career to technology and innovation; to help nurses.
And these problems are solvable, but not by doing more of the same thing: an unsustainable stream of cash to staffing agencies, hundred-million-dollar eICUs for 12 people, or early-stage technologies years from actually helping.
Nurses have said what they need and show it by flocking to Virtual Nursing positions. There are 10 applicants for every Virtual Nursing position. When The Today Show featured Nurse Disrupted’s work in homeless shelters, nurses reached out in droves asking how they could get into Virtual Nursing.
A few Virtual Nursing shifts a month for bedside nurses is recognition for work well done, a career path to evolving care delivery models, and physical respite for the wear and tear we take at the bedside. It’s a road back for retired and injured nurses who have the expertise crucial for our patients and new nurses.
Many health systems have Virtual Nursing initiatives already in their budget or strategic roadmap. The catch is that big telehealth companies take years to implement and cost more than the return on investment would justify.
I’m here to change that. The more nurses that leave, the harder it is for any to stay.
So, let’s give our nurses a reason to stay, quickly.
Here’s our Virtual Nursing model:
Place video kiosks in a common area, (med-room/nurses’ station). Staff rolls video kiosks into patient rooms when needed. With a one-touch app staff at the bedside places a video request to the Virtual Nurse through a web-app. Workflows like admission and discharge, dual nurse medication verification, and new grad support are perfect for Virtual Nurses, lifting workload for nurses at the bedside.
What success looks like:
- Decrease nursing turnover, RN vacancy rates, time to discharge
- Increase patient and nursing satisfaction
- >200% ROI
Let’s look at a scenario:
Carol manages 4 hospital units and loses a quarter of her best nurses every year. Every nurse lost puts pressure on the current staff. She has on average a 15% nursing vacancy rate at any given time.
Jenny Smith is an experienced nurse. She is a .6 FTE on her med-surg unit and a respected leader. She would work more, but she has strained her back twice this past year. Her 80-year-old mother depends on her for help, and her 8-and 10-year-olds need transportation and supervision after school.
Carol opens six 4-hour virtual nursing shifts for top performing bedside nurses working more than 60%. If they maintain 80% their hours at the bedside, nurses can pick up 2 virtual shifts per week. Available shifts cover shift change: (600-1000, 1000-1400, 1400-1800, 1800-2200, 2200-0200, 0200-0600). 1 virtual nurse will cover 4 hospital units to admit and discharge patients through video and will be available to new grads for questions.
Carol offers shifts first to her top performers, then newly retired staff.
2 months later, there are about 10 resumes for every opening. Nursing satisfaction is up, and their turnover is at pre-pandemic levels. Nurses working their bedside shifts have more time for workflows such as passing medications and managing IV drips. Virtual nurses spend un-interrupted time with patients sending HCAHPS scores soaring. Nurses like Jenny can pick up more hours as they can work around family schedules.
If we can save 1% of your nurses the project is paid for. If we get back to pre-pandemic turnover rates the ROI is 455%.
I’m hosting a webinar on Virtual Nursing January 11th at 2pm Central. Tell me I’m crazy, tell me you’re in, but let’s get some motion on something that can make real change. See you soon.