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Agency nurses are more qualified, study says

September 11 2008

A new study debunks the negative perception about the quality of temporary nurses that still persists within hospitals even though a majority of hospitals use staffing firms to supplement their nurse requirements.

Prof. Linda Aiken, director of the Center of Health Outcomes and Policy Research at University of Pennsylvania and co-chair of the National Council on Physician and Nurse Supply, presented the results of her study at Staffing Industry Analysts Inc.'s Healthcare Staffing Summit, held in San Francisco from Sept. 8-10.

According to Aiken, 75% of hospitals participating in a study said they use supplemental nurses. Still doubts over the quality of these nurses persist. Aiken's study shows that on average supplemental nurses are more qualified and the majority of them work in primary jobs in hospitals. They are also more likely to be specialty certified.

Despite the negative attitude, continued shortage of nurses and physicians bodes well for the healthcare staffing industry. Shortage of registered nurses in the U.S. is estimated to reach 800,000 by 2020. Physician shortage is estimated at 250,000 by 2025. Moreover, Aiken added that 30% of nurses say they are burned out and are dissatisfied with their jobs. They seek employment with staffing firms to control their schedules and to earn better wages and get supplemental income.

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