Putting Patients in Capable Hands

nurse helping doctor in ER

New Parallon program trains nurses

HealthTrust Workforce Solutions℠ has added a new offering to its menu of services addressing labor challenges in the healthcare marketplace: the Specialty Training Apprenticeship for Registered Nurses (StaRN) program.

Healthcare facilities are looking for answers to labor issues that include a projected 29 percent shortage of RNs by 2020, and the significant lag time in putting new nursing graduates to work.

“Nurses in general are in short supply, especially competent specialty nurses,” says Tony Pentangelo, executive vice president of managed services for HealthTrust Workforce Solutions℠. “But there is a large group of new graduates who can’t get jobs because they aren’t qualified to start taking patient loads on day one.”

Hospitals may hire the new graduates, but they then take on the cost of training and orientation, which can last for weeks at sizable expense.

What often happens, Pentangelo explains, is that hospitals use sign-on and shift bonuses to lure qualified nurses away from competitors, creating vacancies at those facilities. This “stealing from competitors” cycle will never solve the dilemma.

“The demand for nurses is going up and up and up,” Pentangelo says, “but nothing has been increasing the pool of qualified nurses.”

Parallon’s solution for these workforce issues is a 13-week StaRN nurse training program. The first six weeks of training happen in classroom and simulation lab settings, followed by clinical sessions at the hiring facility for the remaining weeks.

“The benefit is that hospitals get nurses who are specialty trained and more competent than new grads, and orientation time is reduced because they come to the facilities with orientation completed,” Pentangelo says. “The nurses are already ACLS [advanced cardiac life support]- and EKG-certified when they arrive, so the time it takes them to get proficient in the unit is significantly less. In addition, they are on Parallon’s payroll the entire 13 weeks, reducing non-productive time on the facility’s payroll.”

StaRN already has proven successful for one East Florida hospital system, where it has been operating for about three years. During that time, its affiliated hospitals have experienced a reduction in contract labor, with decreased vacancy rates on critical care units.

Typically, classes contain 25 to 30 students. The program is paid for by the facilities, which pay a placement fee in advance. The fee covers curriculum, trainers and required certifications. There is no cost to students, but they are required to make a two-year commitment to the facility. If they leave early, payback for the training is required.

Parallon is now building StaRN into a more nationally focused program available to all HealthTrust members.

“Hospitals have one bill to pay,” Pentangelo says, citing one of the program’s advantages.

“But the more important benefit is that the program increases the number of nurses in a market, reducing contract labor costs,” he says. “You’re also getting a more competent, qualified nurse hitting the floor on day one.”

Pentangelo estimates savings can amount to $100,000 or more per nurse over two years for facilities that can use StaRN and replace contract labor. In addition to the significant financial benefits, there also are noteworthy personnel advantages.

“From a quality perspective, this program really helps with employee engagement and satisfaction,” Pentangelo says.