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  • Writer's pictureEric Alvarez

How Healthcare Leaders Can Leverage Clinical Student Workforces to Combat Staffing Shortages

As the healthcare industry continues to face staffing shortages, it's important for leaders to think outside the box when it comes to finding qualified workers. One untapped resource are clinical students, defined as anyone who is pursuing a clinical education. This can be any field from Medical Assistants to Medical Doctors. By leveraging these students, healthcare leaders can help ease staffing concerns and improve overall patient care. Here's a closer look at how this can be done effectively.

The current state of the healthcare workforce and staffing shortages

The nursing profession, as an example, is currently facing shortages of adequate staffing. Healthcare systems are struggling to find nursing staff, with low wages, the constant addition of non-direct patient care tasks, and long working hours contributing to nursing staff burnout. Therefore, healthcare authorities need to better understand the drivers causing nursing shortages, from within the nursing profession itself such as rapidly aging populations of existing nursing staff, insufficient number of graduating nursing students, as well as external factors such as financial pressures. Once these drivers are determined and addressed, other strategies could be employed in order to increase nursing staffing numbers. Thinking outside of the box about new types or workforces and focusing on preventative care rather than reactive may help to alleviate some of the strain seen by the current healthcare workforce crisis.

How clinical student workforces can help to combat these shortages

Clinical student workforces can be a valuable addition to the fight against personnel shortages in healthcare organizations. Students can bring with them new ideas, fresh perspectives and innovative ways of addressing an issue, from their own experience as well as from the latest developments in medical research. Student workforces also give medical practices access to an affordable and flexible source of labor that can help ensure practices have sufficient staff on hand when needed. Furthermore, clinical student workforces give students invaluable experience that could lead to greater recruitment opportunities for them later in their careers. In short, deployed correctly, clinical student workforces can be a powerful tool for helping healthcare systems address their personnel challenges.

The benefits of leveraging clinical students in healthcare settings

Clinical students have become an invaluable asset to healthcare settings over the years, offering a unique combination of enthusiasm and easily-transferable knowledge. In most cases, clinical students have already acquired a substantial base of theoretical knowledge related to medical procedures and protocols, which when coupled with hands-on experience in a health care setting, allows them to hit the ground running. By being supervised by skilled clinicians, students are given an opportunity to hone their skills while contributing to the betterment of patient outcomes. This not only provides cost savings for the facility but creates real-world benefit through enthusiasm and interactive student engagement. The breadth and depth of healthcare services gains value with these dedicated individuals and highlights how their presence can often be seen as a welcomed addition to teams throughout various medical environments.

Guidelines for healthcare leaders on how to best utilize clinical student workforces

Healthcare leaders will find great value in utilizing clinical student workforces to support patient care, improve quality of services, and reduce service costs. However, in order to take full advantage of the unique benefits that clinical student workforces have to offer, it is important for healthcare leaders to be aware of a few key guidelines. These guidelines include creating job descriptions tailored to the skill set that each student brings to the workplace, providing sufficient mentorship and training opportunities, and incentivizing performance through rewards and recognition. Understanding these guidelines in advance can help healthcare leaders create an effective system for incorporating clinical student workforces into their organization's structure. Doing so will help them maximize the inherent benefits that clinical student workforces can provide.

Case studies of successful implementations of clinical student workforces in healthcare organizations

Nursing students can provide invaluable services to healthcare organizations when utilized as part of a clinical workforce. Case studies of successful implementations have demonstrated that properly trained clinical students can take on complex roles and deliver effective outcomes. Clinical students play an integral role in healthcare organizations, by providing key skills while they continue their education. Fully utilizing a clinical student workforce allows healthcare organizations to benefit from having skilled personnel with the added bonus of cost savings. Merging clinical student competencies with the organizational goals of improved patient care and lower operating costs delivers tangible results for the organization. Investment in optimizing clinical student workforces is wise and beneficial for both parties in the long run. Here are a few links to explore on actual case studies:

When it comes to tackling workforce shortages in the healthcare industry, leveraging clinical student workforces can present numerous advantages for healthcare organizations. Clinical students benefit from gaining practical experience across a variety of healthcare roles and can supply crucial skills that individual care providers lack. As such, it’s important for healthcare leaders to establish clear systems and processes when incorporating clinical students into their existing teams in order to ensure a successful implementation. From setting expectations ahead of time to scheduling periodic meetings, there are many ways a good leader can help integrate clinical students quickly and efficiently. If you’re a healthcare leader looking to learn more about how to establish a successful clinical student workforce in your organization, now is the perfect time to get started! Click here for advice on how to begin developing your own clinical student workflows.

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