Our All-In Approach to Strategic Workforce Planning for Nursing

Planning Committee members from the 2018 conference

Developing a strategy to ensure that the UVM Medical Center recruits and retains an engaged and energized nursing force requires that multiple stakeholders be involved, most especially bedside nurses who work directly with patients.

Steering Committee

Sarah Hoffman, MSN, RN, Interim Nursing Director for Nursing Operations and Resources, co-chairs the steering committee for the newly created Nursing Workforce Structure initiative along with Chief Nursing Officer Peg Gagne, MSN, RN. The committee brings together a diverse group of nursing leaders, nursing staff and other stakeholders that work together to develop the vision and priorities for addressing strategic workforce planning. 

Data and Analytics

This group works to access and analyze data specific to the nursing workforce, including retention and turnover rates for RNs, as well as support staff like LNAs, patient safety attendants and mental health technicians. The group also gathers data about the time it takes to fill certain positions. “This information really helps us to see some of the trends emerging from the data so we can be proactive and make decisions in advance, or strategize about how we want to address things that we can see will become an issue,” says Hoffman. 

Work Groups

Each of the work groups are composed of nursing staff who care for patients on a daily basis, colleagues in unit-level leadership roles and partners from the human resources talent acquisition staff. The work groups develop SMART goals that are high-impact and actionable that can address some of the challenges that have been identified in the data and in real time as evidence in our workforce. 

“Although Peg and I chair the steering committee, each of the working groups are ideally chaired by staff nurses. We really want to put our staff and nurses in a position of having the influence and ability to move forward work that they deem important,” says Hoffman. “The idea is to let the people closest to the patient care really come up with some of the creative ideas and be innovative, and the directors and leaders are there in the work group to remove barriers and to support the work and to provide mentoring and guidance on running meetings, developing charters, taking minutes, helping some of the work come to fruition.”

AIM: Right Staff, Right Time, Right Cost

Nursing Workforce Steering Committee AIM Infographic - Right Staff, Right Time, Right Cost

Below are the work groups and some of the strategies they are pursuing: 

  • Recruitment - Job Fairs (for LNAs and entry-level positions); More than 120 new nursing program graduates were hired this year and 19 new grads were hired into Pipeline Sr. Practicum Positions; the Vermont Talent Pipeline- Nursing Apprenticeship pilot program, will start in the fall with a pilot cohort of nine; actively engaged in how best to hire travel nurses. 
  • Retention - This team provided guidance to network leaders on nursing needs related to housing, childcare and tuition reimbursement. They secured a grant to promote personal wellness in times of high stress/pandemic (programming from the vendor, Luminous), supported creation of nursing leadership orientation and are currently working on stay interviews and increasing gratitude. Lastly, they continually try to promote fun via spirit week and ice cream socials (open to all nurses during Nurses Week.) “It was so much fun to be in the Atrium space and eat an ice cream cone with colleagues and take a moment to laugh together,” Hoffman says. 
  • Resource Allocation - Developed the summer incentive proposal in 2021 to augment current staffing by incentivizing our staff to pick up additional shifts. Additionally, this group continuously reviews staffing data, works to identify trends and potential strategies to address issues.
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