May 17, 2020

The Best Hospitals Need the Best Nurses

3 min
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Written by Amy Morin Are Our Hospitals Hiring the Best Nurses? The best nurses arent only well educated, they also have talent that allows them to be...

Written by Amy Morin


Are Our Hospitals Hiring the Best Nurses?

The best nurses aren’t only well educated, they also have talent that allows them to be compassionate, effective caregivers.

Hiring and retaining the best nurses is not only essential the functioning of the hospital, it can also be a matter of life or death for the hospital’s patients.

Insufficient nurse staffing has been linked to higher patient mortality rates, according to a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, attracting and hiring the best nurses can be difficult, especially during a nursing shortage. Hospitals can use a variety of strategies to ensure that they’re able to attract and retain the most qualified and talented nurses.

Traveling Nurses

Approximately one-third of all hospitals need traveling nurses to fill their nursing vacancies, according to a 2007 survey by AMN Healthcare. The typical length of employment for a traveling nurse can vary between a few weeks to over a year.

When hospitals hire these temporary nurses, it gives them more time to recruit nurses to fill their permanent positions. This can be an essential component in hiring the best nurses.

Without temporary employees to fill vital nursing positions, a hospital may be desperate to hire any nurse who applies for the job. If hospitals want to only hire well-qualified nurses, they’ll need time to recruit the best employees.

Although hiring a temporary nurse may cost more in the short-term, it can save hospitals money over the long-term. Temporary nurses sometimes cost more per hour compared to a full-time employee.

However, paying more in the short-term can allow for the chance to hire a stable, long-term employee which can be less costly than filling the position with someone who needs extensive training or who isn’t likely to stay in the position over the long-term.

Foreign Nurses

Seventeen percent of hospitals report hiring foreign educated nurses, according to a 2007 AHA Survey of Hospital Leaders. Nurses are commonly recruited from Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

Foreign educated nurses must pass a licensing exam before practicing in the United States which can delay their ability to begin work. Immigration issues and work visas can also cause complications for hospitals looking to recruit nurses from other countries.

Financial Support for Continuing Education

Some hospitals are offering to pay to continue education for medical staff who may want to obtain their nursing degree.

When hospitals identify people who possess talents and skills that could make them a great nurse, paying for that employee’s education can prove to be a good investment.

Often, hospitals will require employees to sign a contract that says they’ll work at the hospital for a certain number of years in exchange for payment for their education.

Paying for continuing education can be a good investment because it helps hospitals offer employees new advancement opportunities. This can keep employees satisfied with their careers, which is essential in retaining them.

Increased Wages and Benefits

Nurses are also being recruited with extra incentives, such as increased wages or benefits. Some hospitals are even offering sign-on bonuses.

This can give hospitals a leg up on their competition when it comes to attracting nurses. Nurses may be willing to leave their current places of employment for extra money, vacation time, or improved health care benefits.

Hospitals have a variety of options to help them hire and retain the best nurses.

Although it requires extra money and effort to recruit and hire the best nurses, it is a vital investment for any hospital.


About the Author

Amy Morin writes about psychology, healthcare and travel destinations such as Bluegreen Resorts.

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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