UPMC hopes its own recruiting agency can help solve the nursing crisis

UPMC is stepping up its game in the ongoing nursing recruitment saga by launching what it bills as its own travel recruiting agency.

The Pittsburgh Academic Healthcare System aims to recruit, both internally and externally, about 800 nurses and 13 surgical technicians to participate in the travel program. Executives there say they hope that giving workers this opportunity will add another tool to their recruiting toolbox. Unlike a typical staffing agency, this will only serve 40 hospitals and other UPMC facilities.

“It’s bold. This is a novelty. We’re going to try it, ”said Tami Minye, Director of Quality and Manufacturing Excellence at UPMC. “We’re going to explore and find our best solutions as we navigate this.”

Minye said UPMC has lost nurses to the travel industry, which is a particularly disruptive trend as the system survives a crushing nursing shortage. The Governor of Pennsylvania wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday. send shock troops to hospitals and other health care providers.

The goal is to encourage UPMC employees who wish to try themselves as travel nurses to do so at UPMC. Thus, according to her, they will be able to maintain their benefits, pension plan, seniority and return to the same position and place when they graduated. UPMC will reassign staff participating in the travel program every six weeks.

“If you can reinvent yourself but stay in the same company, boy, we think this is really a win-win,” Mignet 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 one hospital in New York and one in Maryland.

UPMC will pay program nurses $ 85 an hour. Surgical technicians will earn $ 63 an hour. Mignet said she believes these rates will be competitive compared to traditional recruiting agencies. While the national staffing agency’s rates currently average between $ 200 and $ 225 per hour, nurses are paid significantly less than that, she said.

“Most of this goes to the profits of these companies,” she said. “I’m totally in favor of competition, but now we in the healthcare sector are in the midst of a pandemic. We have a social responsibility in the healthcare sector – to take care of people. ”

Not all recruiting agencies also offer incentives, which is why UPMC is betting that this will be another incentive.

“Our benefit package is pretty rich; he is very solid, ”said Mignet. “This adds a significant percentage to the hourly rate.”

UPMC does this in part because it is one of the few organizations with the resources that Adam Seth Lytwin, Associate Professor of Industry and Labor Relations at Cornell University, wrote about. UPMC has attracted $ 23 billion in revenue in 2020.

Not only that, UPMC has already tried more targeted hiring strategies like signing bonuses and wants to try something big and daring, Lytvyn said.

“As they work to resolve their own staffing problems, they will likely drag into the staffing network of some RNs who do not want or should not be in the Greater Pittsburgh area,” he said. “So they understood,“ As long as we have this big machine, why not try to get some of this action as well? “”

Earlier this week, UPMC Nurses Altoona visited the system headquarters in Pittsburgh to solve the personnel crisis. Nurses who are members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania have encouraged a focus on recruiting and retaining staff rather than incentives and traveling nurses.

UPMC’s Minier said the system has removed all recruitment restrictions. Over the past six months, he has added sign-in bonuses, extra shift bonuses and incentives for working on weekends and off shifts. She said that not all unions accept these benefits.

Jodie Faltin, a UPMC Shadyside Registered Nurse in Pittsburgh, said she believed UPMC could do more in terms of recruiting and retaining staff. To date, the system is mainly focused on login allowances for new nurses, she said.

“But they don’t offer anything for those of us who have been there and continue to be,” Faltin said. “When they come up with these plans to hire and retain people, they don’t ask us what will keep us in our positions.”

According to Faltin, UPMC nurses were asking for higher base wages, higher pay for night and weekend work, and for responding to hospital emergencies such as stroke.

Faltin, who is working to integrate more UPMC hospitals through SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said she is skeptical about the new recruiting agency, which brings many benefits beyond UPMC’s existing program, which allows nurses to take shifts across hospitals across the system.

“I also don’t understand where they think they’re going to get all these nurses,” she said. “I know there may be more staff in some departments, but I don’t think there are nurses who just sit and do nothing.”

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