The supplemental nursing workforce is crucial to keep hospitals adequately staffed in states suffering from a nursing shortage and at hospitals that have gaps in staffing due to nurse turnover. A new study by Linda Aiken, who serves on the National Advisory Committee for INQRI and has conducted several studies into outcomes of nursing care, shows that any hesitation hospital executives may have about using "travel nurses" is unfounded.
An article on ADVANCE for Nurses reports on the results of Aiken's recent study examining patient outcomes when they are cared for in hospitals that have a substantial number of agency nurses. The study included more than 1.3 million patients and 40,000 nurses in more than 600 hospital and found no evidence negative outcomes associated with care provided by supplemental nurses.
The article also reports on a study conducted at the Columbia School f Nursing that suggests that supplemental nurses' image may suffer because they often work in hospitals with poor work environments. The study's authors suggest that hospitals with poor work environments would have more trouble recruiting and retaining permanent nurses and rely heavily on agency nurses.
Aiken's study underscores the findings of an INQRI research team led by Ying Xue and Deborah Freund which determined that supplemental nurses had no negative impact on patient or nurse outcomes. They also found that supplemental nurses tend to have the same amount of experience as permanent RNs.