State of Nursing with Mary Ellen Hatch

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It’s no secret: The healthcare industry continues to experience a critical shortage of nursing staff, and Encompass Health is not immune. Nurses play an important role in rehabilitation, forming meaningful relationships with patients and helping them progress and reach their goals. Without our dedicated nursing staff, Encompass Health could not provide the high level of care that makes us the trusted choice in rehabilitation.

Encompass Health’s vice president of nursing operations, Mary Ellen Hatch, weighs in on the state of nursing in this episode of EHC Today. Read highlights from the conversation below.

Q: What caused the nursing shortage?

A: As much as we’d like to, we can’t solely blame COVID-19 for the nursing shortage. Multiple factors have contributed—some in motion prior to the emergence of COVID-19—but the pandemic certainly accelerated some of these trends. For example, many baby boomers were within a stone’s throw of retirement age when the pandemic began and decided to retire early. On the other end of the spectrum, many young mothers who had considered being stay-at-home moms prior to the pandemic finally took the plunge due to school and daycare closures.

Q: How is Encompass Health addressing the shortage?

A: We’ve turned to staffing agencies when necessary and engaged with a screening company to ensure all of our agency staff are vetted and qualified. We’ve also hired more licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and incorporated them into our workforce.

Internally, we’re highlighting stories of our nurses and the compassionate care they provide to our patients. We’re also acting on feedback from our employee engagement survey, nursing focus groups and nursing leadership team to ensure we foster an optimal work environment for nurses.

Q: How is Encompass Health committed to the nursing profession?

A: We have a great CRRN support program, continuing education opportunities and paths for advancement. Our partnership with Chamberlain University enables our nurses to pursue higher education at a 50% discount. We also offer leadership training through our nursing leadership academy, which is soon to be offered completely virtually, enabling us to reach even more of our nurse managers and supervisors with the tools they need to succeed.

Q: What are your hopes for nursing at Encompass Health?

A: My hope is for our nurses to rise to their full potential and take their careers wherever they want them to go! We have a network of nearly 150 rehabilitation hospitals, so our nurses can move around, advance and grow with the company while staying in the rehabilitation setting. Ultimately, I want Encompass Health to be known as the employer of choice for rehabilitation nursing.

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