Study Validates the Value of Temporary Nurses
A major study by the University of Pennsylvania released last week shatters the widely held
perception that temporary nurses provide lower quality of care than permanent nurses.
The study examined the effect of supplemental nurses on patient care. Earlier studies on the
topic had showed a correlation between the use of temporary nurse staff and the number of
adverse patient care events, such as infections and medication errors. But researchers for the
University of Pennsylvania study found that those earlier studies failed to consider the effect of
inadequate staff and other hospital resources. When those factors were considered, they found
that the use of temporary nurses actually reduces nurse burnout and improves patient outcomes.
The study also showed that nurses employed by staffing firms are as well or better qualified than
permanent nurses employed by hospitals. Temporary nurses were more likely to have
baccalaureate or higher degrees and to have received their education in the past 10 years.
Moreover, most temporary nurses worked primarily as hospital staff nurses, and their temporary
jobs were secondary.
A recent survey cited in the study showed that 75% of hospitals use supplemental nurses. Hence,
the study has broad implications and should go a long way in dispelling concerns about safety
and quality-of-care issues relating to the use of supplemental staff.
In a news release about the study, Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the
American Staffing Association, said, "This study shows what we have known all along?that
temporary and contract nurses are highly skilled professionals who provide high-quality care.
They play a vital role in our health care system, and this research validates the positive impact
they have on patient outcomes."
Linda Aiken, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health
Outcomes and Policy Research, led the study. The results were published in th