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  • Post published:08/05/2021
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How the Gig Economy Is Helping the Nurse Shortage

The emerging gig economy is creating flexible work opportunities for nurses and nursing hopefuls.

Are you a nursing professional who doesn’t want to get tied down to the same gig day in and day out? Well, there’s an app for that!

Thanks to technology, you can join the growing number of people who are picking up short-term contract work using their smartphones. Today, a growing number of verticals – including the nursing field – are leveraging technology that allows people to turn those short-term contracts into full-time careers.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Technology has given birth to the sharing economy. Gig economy tech enables people and companies to complete tasks more efficiently than ever before.

The sharing economy has also enabled workers to earn a living on their terms – and in their own time. Resultantly, 35% of the United States workforce participated in the gig economy in 2018. By 2020, analysts expect that that percentage will rise to 43%.

The flexibility of the gig economy enables participants to spend more time with friends and loved ones, go back to school or take breaks when desired. Despite their reasons for participating in the gig economy, workers are finding an increased rate of job satisfaction.

Nurses typically work intense, lengthy shifts, which is a great way to succumb to burnout. However, more firms are leveraging gig economy tech to enable nurses to work schedules that are more conducive for their emotional and physical health.

Opportunities Abound

Some healthcare networks leverage in-house gig economy apps that allow nursing professionals to choose their schedules. It’s worth noting, however, that this feature is nearly nonexistent among long-term care facilities.

Conversely, a growing number of firms have emerged that exist solely to manage healthcare-related sharing economy shift-work. For example, NurseGrid is an institutional application that enables medical professionals to pick up and swap shifts as desired. Similar apps such as IntelyCare enable nursing professionals to work across multiple facilities, much like the Sadiant Health nursing app.

Relatively recently, a Wired Magazine story highlighted the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) plans to introduce a similar sharing economy application, but it’s meeting significant resistance from the nation’s GMB trade union.

U.K. representatives expressed that the government managed application will enable nursing professionals to choose their hours, pick up extra work as desired, receive compensation quickly and manage benefits such as their pension contributions. However, GMB representatives argued that the proposed NHS gig economy application will force nurses into short-term contract labor.

Wired investigators could not uncover precise details about NHS plans for the app. However, NHS secretary Jeremy Hunt remarked during a 2017 Conservative Party conference that their proposed app would leverage a system of staffing banks to make flexible work opportunities available for U.K. nurses.

Back across the pond, the Scrubs app enables doctors, nurses and lab techs to participate in the gig economy by making house calls. Medical professionals who use the app respond to non-emergency health and wellness requests. The company also offers franchise opportunities for business-oriented medical professionals.

Maybe It’s Worth It for Nurses to Consider the Sharing Economy

Across the nation, nurses endure considerable pressure while serving in various ER triage units. During their shifts, they experience more than their fair share of human suffering while working long hours.

In addition to coping with the stress of nursing, the medical professionals must also work long hours to compensate for the industry-wide talent shortage. This kind of intense work environment can lead to burnout.

In early 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized burnout as an official medical condition. During an announcement about the matter, WHO representatives cited a 2013 report highlighting how nearly 350,000 nurses exited the profession due to emotional exhaustion.

As a solution, the gig staffing model may serve as a way for nurses to provide help where it’s needed most, without them having to sacrifice their physical and emotional well-being.

According to Dr. Mariea Snell, assistant director of the online doctor of nursing practice program at Maryville University, one of the best aspects of a gig economy is flexibility.  This can have a big impact on the nursing shortage and managing burnout. 

“One of the major factors in burnout is monotony. Nurses often are drawn to the profession because they are able to be challenged and have variety.  By creating flexibility in changing areas of practice, the nurse can learn new things, keep skills sharp and become more marketable.

In addition to this they are able to create a work life balance by taking on the jobs that they want rather than what they have to.  Increasing this workforce that can be utilized in this way will draw more to the profession and as a result decrease the nursing shortage.” 

Sharing economy technology will hopefully enable nurses to avoid burnout by allowing them to schedule desired shifts. As an example, one sharing economy company allows nurses to filter shifts, making it easier to find desirable gigs. With these kinds of features, sharing economy apps can enable nurses to spend more time with friends and loved ones. They also give nurses more time to manage self-care.

Most importantly, the sharing economy is especially beneficial for nurses. Even though they are performing gig work, they still earn the per diem rate for nursing professionals.

The gig economy resolves two pain points for workers – income and scheduling flexibility. Increasingly, temporary labor is becoming a long-term strategy for a growing number of large enterprises, and it’s a win-win scenario for stakeholders. Businesses save money, and workers earn a living without sacrificing their emotional and physical well-being.


Photo Credit

Photo is pixabay creative commons

Guest Author Bio
Sarah Daren

With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.



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