Breaking down nurse staffing and the Gig Economy

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By Mike Wood

Gig economy. You’ve likely heard this term in the news, in conversations at work or home, or are living it. Gig economy is used to describe a workforce primarily comprised of temporary or flexible jobs. It’s closely associated with freelance workers. While the concept of working a “gig” has been around for decades, today’s work landscape has taken the approach to an entirely new level. In fact, freelance workers are projected to be half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. People want flexibility, the ability to dictate their own terms, and more people are looking for “work” rather than “a job.”

Fifty years ago, the healthcare industry was a leader in the gig economy with a freelance job market ahead of its time. But in recent years the industry has fallen behind. In comparison to other industries that have embraced innovation and updated the way they hire workers, healthcare has not advanced as quickly. Now, there is a need to bring the gig economy back to healthcare to address some of the largest problems facing the nursing industry: clinician turnover and staffing shortages.

It’s estimated that the rate of turnover for nurses is 40 percent and for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), it’s 45 percent. Further, one in four nursing assistants and one in five home health aides report that they are actively looking for another job, in large part due to burnout and the lack of flexibility.

So how can we prevent burnout and lessen turnover? One way is to bring back a focus on flexibility through the freelance and contract work that led the healthcare industry years ago. This type of gig work grants nurses the freedom to make their own schedule paired with the opportunity to expand their earning potential.

At connectRN, we are bridging the long-existing staffing gap between nurses and healthcare facilities. Similar to the on-demand Uber and Classpass business models of the day, we want to enable nurses to join the growing gig economy by giving them the opportunity to pick up extra shifts and earn additional income, all the while helping to lessen the nationwide nursing shortage.

We are at a tipping point in the healthcare industry with nursing shortage fears at an all-time high. The shift to a more flexible and on-demand nurse staffing model needs to happen. We believe that adopting a more structured freelance approach to staffing can help the healthcare industry keep pace across all aspects of the care continuum, and are more excited than ever for what the future has in store for nurse staffing.

For more on Mike’s insights into the nursing gig economy, connectRN’s vision and founding story, check out his recent interview with BostInno. You can read the article here.  

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