So how does information technology help you get a nursing job? The short answer is speed and efficiency in the application and on-boarding process. Even though inaccurate data could be entered and program errors can occur, information technology helps streamline the application process because information can be saved for future use, has less errors, and is processed faster. IT also speeds up the on-boarding process (getting you hired and working), improves personnel management, and helps keep nurses flexible. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using a nursing agency with an excellent IT department.
HOW THE APPLICATION PROCESS IS CHANGED
Way back in the 1900’s, when you applied for a job you would usually have to travel down to an office and fill out reams of paperwork. If you were lucky, you got the job and then had to complete another packet of paper with your tax information, banking information, and tons of other personal data onto more paper. Papers would be copied and you would be responsible for keeping a packet of “important” information that was often lost within a week. If you weren’t lucky, you would have to wait a period of time and repeat the application from scratch.
Not only was this whole process annoying, it was very insecure. You would have to rely on some HR manager to keep track of your documents and, more importantly, keep your private information secure. We won’t even discuss the cost to businesses for having to buy tons of paper, buckets of ink, and filing cabinets for keeping all those dead trees.
Welcome to the 21st century. Online applications are common among most industries for several reasons and chief among them are the speed of taking new applications, reduction in errors with those applications, and convenience for the applicant (you). With an online application, you can fill it out anywhere and double-check your information before submitting it. Once it’s sent, it’s saved. If you get hired, most of the information needed for getting you to work (on-boarding) is already there. That is less work for you. If you need to fill out another application months later, most places will still have your data. Presuming they have an IT department worth it’s salt, your information is also secure.
WHY THE ON-BOARDING PROCESS IS BETTER
Let’s talk a little about on-boarding and how it’s better with IT. Those long packets of forms that you used to fill out for tax information, providing your certifications, giving your banking information so you can get paid? Those are on-boarding documents. This is all the information that any employer needs in order to put you to work and pay you. Needless to say, these are important.
How does a good IT department help here? By saving your data during the application process, the employer doesn’t require as much additional information from you. Documents like W4s, I9s, direct deposit forms, etc., can be made into forms and shared easily. You can even sign those documents electronically which means that you don’t have to print them out and send them in.
In addition to getting important paperwork completed quickly, you can easily submit your certifications. No need to drive to an office with copies of all your cards. Just scan them in and send them. No scanner? Most places will even take a picture taken from your cell phone (we do). How’s that for speeding up the process?
You may wonder why the process even needs to be sped up. Money. The faster a nursing agency can get you working, the faster you can make money. That makes sense doesn’t it? You wouldn’t go through the trouble of applying for a job if you didn’t want money. How does that benefit a nursing agency? If you’re happy, you’ll tell your friends about how awesome and easy the application process was and how quickly you started making money and hopefully they’ll come to work for them, too.
HOW IT IMPROVES PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT
Have you ever worked anywhere and wondered how it was that they couldn’t manage a schedule? Oftentimes in healthcare, this means you are doing more work than you should be because there aren’t enough people scheduled. It’s no secret that there is a shortage of nurses; however, many problems can be solved by using IT to help assign personnel more efficiently.
How does IT do that? By using a good system, facilities can see where they are short and request the needed staff from a nursing agency. The nursing agency can use their system to find people like you to help plug those holes. Now, in the old days this would mean that the nursing agency would be making tons of phone calls or sending pages to see who was available. How’s it done efficiently with IT?
While it may ultimately result in a few phone calls, an agency with a good IT department will have several methods at their disposal including social media, mass email, or even text alerts. A great solution to finding last minute or short notice staff is to use Twitter or Facebook. A short tweet asking for anyone available to fill a need can be carried out in a few seconds, viewed by thousands, and answered in the app itself. A need gets filled, a nurse gets paid, and you don’t have to work as hard as you would otherwise.
HOW IT IMPROVES FLEXIBILITY FOR NURSES
If nothing else in the article interests you, at least pay attention to this part. IT can also help improve your flexibility. You can easily choose which assignments/facilities you take on, share when you are available, and even blacklist yourself from working at a particular facility.
A good nursing agency will have a few facilities you can choose to work at. A great one will have several (like us). With an excellent IT solution, you can easily choose from a list of available assignments and in some cases even queue up assignments by scheduling work ahead of time. If you are an excellent healthcare provider, you may even be requested back by a facility. If you liked working there then you can accept the request. Didn’t care for it? Just say ‘no’ and don’t worry about it.
On that note, you can blacklist yourself from a facility. You didn’t like that place? Don’t go back. A great agency with a good relationship with both you and the facility will work to solve whatever issue is preventing your return and even this is streamlined with a good IT solution. By providing feedback to your nursing agency, they can utilize the power of a good IT solution to trend problems or issues with facilities or staff. This is a win-win situation and helps ensure everyone’s happiness. Sometimes though, you just don’t like a place. That’s fine. You have the flexibility to choose where you work.
You also have the flexibility to choose when you work. With a good IT solution, you can easily share when you are available to work and when you are not. Let’s say, for example, that for a particular month you would like to work Monday through Friday 8am – 8pm. With a good IT solution, you will be put to work during those times. Now lets say that you don’t even want to be offered shifts at all during the same time period a month later. That is as easy as updating your schedule with times that you are not available.
Let’s look at how it was handled in the past. You would either need to select a schedule template, fill out a paper schedule in advance, or call and let someone know when you can work. Now you’ve had a last minute change in plans and you can no longer work some of the times you said you could. You would have to call back and tell someone your situation. What if it was a weekend and no one was in the office? What if you did not want to be called every few days and asked to work? You would have to count on someone remembering not to call you. Sounds tedious and prone to errors.
By providing an easy, fast, and efficient way for exchanging information, IT can not only help you get a job in nursing, it can help you enjoy it more. I am Jake Tollette and I’m the IT Director for Flex Nursing.