For Hope Gregory, her dream job took some patience to get.
“I have been a nurse for 30 years, and I have always wanted to do travel nursing, but I put that dream aside to fulfill my dream of having a family,” she says. Gregory worked in a variety of nursing positions while she raised her children. After they were grown, she heard about Sanford Health’s central resource pool and knew it was what she wanted to do.
“It’s modeled after outside traveling nursing agencies,” central resource pool manager Heidi Skovlund says, where registered nurses are placed temporarily when and where there’s the most need. “But these nurses have full-time status as a Sanford Health employee and only go to Sanford Health locations.”
Nurses in the central resource pool are given assignments that typically last 12 weeks or more in Sanford Health hospitals that need additional nursing staff.
They get an hourly base pay, as well as daily meal and housing stipends, and are eligible for benefits as a full-time employee. “This is a good program if you want to have a variety of nursing experience and be able to work in different locations within Sanford Health,” Skovlund says.
“It was a perfect situation at the right time,” Gregory says of the central resource pool positions that began at Sanford Health in 2015. “I knew that I could be flexible with my schedule and where I was working. I could be a traveler with a great hospital that I am familiar with, keep my benefits, meet new people, see how other facilities operate within the enterprise, and still be close to home. So in May 2016 I joined the resource pool — and I am so glad that I did!”
The nurses are cross-trained in multiple departments, and are able to carry over best practices and standardized procedures from across all Sanford Health locations and units.
Skovlund says the pool was created to both address nursing workforce needs, as well as promote a positive work environment and provide positive patient outcomes.
“It’s improved nursing satisfaction,” she says. “We’ve also had great satisfaction from the units that use the float nurses.”
Nurses get a chance to share their skills and knowledge in a variety of settings, and patients and hospitals continue to get quality care from a consistently and comprehensively trained group of employees. It also gives Sanford Health a way to be nimble in responding to patient volumes when and where more workforce is needed at a time when nurses are sometimes in short supply.
Traveling close to home
The variety of the job, coupled with the stability of a full-time position, is a big draw for registered nurses interested in joining the central resource pool.
Megan Terfehr started working at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota, in 2013. She’s been part of the resource pool since August 2015, and has worked in cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, surgery, oncology and observation units in North Dakota and South Dakota since then.
“I was interested in travel nursing, but wasn’t sure about being far from home,” Terfehr says. “I thought the resource pool would be a great way to experience other areas of nursing while still being a Sanford Health employee, and only being a few hours away from home.”
Variety of backgrounds
Skovlund says the resource pool has been attracting registered nurses from a range of situations, from new grads looking to earn a great wage to pay off student loans, to empty nesters who are ready to travel and share their experiences, to nurses who just like being at patients’ bedsides where they’re needed most.
Janet Huber worked as an licensed practical nurse for 25 years before going back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing. After 10 more years in a variety of positions, including director of nursing at a multi-specialty clinic, she decided she wanted to get back into direct patient care.
Her children were grown and gone from home, and her husband was semi-retired, “so it looked like the opportune time to try something different,” Huber says of joining the central resource pool.
She’s been able to translate her years of experience with each new assignment, sharing her knowledge and expertise with fellow nurses, while also learning from their specialties.
“With moving to different facilities, I get to be part of the patients’ health care team in so many different areas,” Huber says. “It has been amazing how much one can still learn after being a nurse all these years!”
To learn more about a career with Sanford Health visit our website.