A Variable Nurse Staffing Model

By John C. HersheyWilliam J. AbernathyNicholas Baloff
1971| Working Paper No. 45

When the staffing load on several separate work centers is variable but unpredictable i n advance, a variable staffing policy may be used as a means of increasing manpower efficiency. A variable staffing policy is one which provides for staffing adjustments to meet work load through the use of a common pool of cross trained personnel. A variable staffing policy of this nature can offer significant economies in staffing over the alternative policy of satisfying the load in each center through permanent staff assignments. Such a staffing situation is characteristically found in nurse assignments to groups of wards in hospitals. In this paper, a model is formulated to calculate the gains in productivity using a variable staffing policy versus a constant staffing policy. Results from a Monte Carlo evaluation of the model demonstrate the sensitivity of savings to several important conditions. Several criteria which a hospital administrator might adopt for equating levels of patient care under alternative staffing schemes are studied. The proposed method of analyzing staffing benefits shows promise for evaluating staffing policy choices in hospitals, and the savings magnitude suggests the problem is worthy of analysis.