Are traveling nurses the right fit for your healthcare facility? In the past, a certain stigma has been attached to traveling nurses. They were thought to not only cost the facility more, but were also seen as negatively affecting patient care. But new research is changing the industry’s views.

Cost-effectiveness and the Traveling Nurse
Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Nursing found that the use of supplemental nurses can be cost-effective for many facilities. The study showed that even though the hourly rate of a traveling nurse may be higher than the rate of permanent staff, modest use of contract nurses during short-term staff shortages or temporary increases in patient volume can be a cost-effective strategy. The study also indicated that the hourly cost of traveling nurses offset the overtime costs of full-time nurses.

Quality Patient Care and the Traveling Nurse
The stigma of negative patient outcomes being caused by the use of traveling nurses could stem from the 2011 nursing strike in California. Tragically, a cancer patient died after a medication error made by a replacement nurse. However, a 2013 study led by Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, a professor of sociology and nursing and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, “determined that hiring extra temporary travel nurses may save lives.”  Aiken stated, “We find there is no association between employing travel nurses and any negative outcomes and find that the outcomes, especially in regard to preventable mortality after common surgical procedures would be greater if the hospitals had not used these agency nurses.”
In a separate study by the Columbia University School of Nursing, research indicated that traveling nurses were often unfairly blamed for negative patient outcomes when the quality of care actually had more to do with the work environments. The head researcher of that study, Jingjing Shang, PhD, RN, OCN, assistant professor of nursing at Columbia, also explained that “a travel nurse is as equally qualified as a permanent nurse, and often more so because of the high proportion of travel nurses that have national certification.”
Supplementing permanent staff with travelling nurses can also help solve the problem of nurse fatigue. According to Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), “Research shows that prolonged work hours can hinder a nurse’s performance and have negative impacts on patients’ safety and outcomes….” Linda Aiken agrees, “Extensive research indicates that overtime work is connected to nurse burnout, turnover, and poor patient outcomes. The use of supplemental nurses can alleviate these risks.”

Compliance and the Traveling Nurse
Whether or not your facility currently uses traveling nurses or intends to use them in the future, IntelliCentrics can help you through the credentialing process. Rather than relying exclusively on the staffing companies who are financially motivated to fill the vacancy, your staff can quickly and efficiently check the qualifications of temporary nurses or any other contract worker. Further, this cloud-based credentialing SaaS solution automatically checks for errors and conducts real-time sanction checks against external and internal watch lists. Ensure a safer and more secure environment for your facility with .

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