As Flu Season Arrives, Health Facilities Turn to Per Diem Nurse Staffing

Last Updated on October 4, 2023

healthcare clinicians wearing scrubs and stethoscopes with arms crossed

As the healthcare industry enters the 2020-2021 flu season, we do so amid upheaval that would have seemed unthinkable just a year ago. As facilities struggle to keep up with the urgent new challenges of patient care during the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of temporary professionals has risen sharply. And, though that rise has centered primarily on travel nursing so far, experts are forecasting a rise in per diem nurse staffing to help meet the demand.

Since per diem nurse staffing involves the hiring of RNs and LPN/LVNs for brief periods — usually just days; rarely more than a few weeks — it also gives facilities the chance to boost their reserves going into the critical fall and winter months. Especially for facilities based in populous areas like Texas and California, access to per diem nurses can make a huge difference for staying fully staffed in the months to come.
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What are the Benefits of Per Diem Nurse Staffing?

The novel coronavirus, and the spate of shutdowns that have come along with it, has caused more than just a spike in demand for nurses. It’s also created a situation where the supply is straining to keep up. And, at a time when nurses are striking over lack of PPE and what they regard as fair pay, ensuring a reliable supply of nurses has become a true challenge for many facilities.

“Given the added risks and the relatively low pay for full-time, college-educated registered nurses (the median salary was $73,300 in 2019), no one should be surprised that we’re once again facing a nurse shortage, even though hospital admissions and elective surgeries remain below normal,” wrote former Modern Healthcare editor Merrill Goozner in a recent editorial that points to an “all-time high” in . “demand for temporary nurses.”

So far, that demand for temporary nurses has manifested in a spike in the use of travel nurses. But it also includes per diem nurse staffing, which gives facilities access to fill-in nurses for shorter-term assignment, typically from their own local communities. Per diem nurses are a long-established way to deal with seasonal spikes that come with events like flu season, and that’s likely to hold even more true in the winter months of 2020-2021.

As Goozner and others have noted, Covid-19 has accelerated a change within healthcare staffing toward more mobile, flexible networks. This need for mobility on a nationwide network was already a going concern as states where residents were growing older saw a more acute need for nurses than those where the residents were trending younger.

This need to expedite the ability for nurses to work in other communities was already behind a number of licensure compacts for healthcare professionals. The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eLNC), for example, now includes almost three dozen states and territories. A number of other emergency licensing compacts have been caused by the dramatic need for care during a pandemic; they may be temporary, but their underlying usefulness is likely to be remembered.

For many facilities, finding the proper amount of skilled nurses has been tough this year. Unfortunately, that difficulty is only likely to increase with the holiday season. On top of the heightened need for flu season caregivers, many nurses may choose to spend the holidays closer to home with their families instead of seeking new assignments. These nurses may not want to travel, but may be interested in per diem assignments.

And that leads to another benefit of per diem nurse staffing — namely, the advantages it offers to nurses themselves. For those who want to be home for the holidays, and who may not care to commit to the 13 or so weeks associated with a travel assignment, per diem jobs are a nice way to continue to earn without a longer obligation. Per diem assignments also lets nurses earn income while spending most of their time pursuing a doctorate or other advanced learning.

The result is that per diem nurse staffing services can deliver nursing professionals who are motivated, hard-working, and ready to work when you need them — during flu season, or any other time of the year. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of per diem nurse staffing, or want to speak with a CareerStaff specialist, please contact us here. You can also submit a nurse staffing request here.

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