Friedrichshafen: 65 vacancies are open: how the Medical Campus Bodensee fights the crisis of care

The shortage of nursing skills is currently on everyone's lips. According to a recent extrapolation from the Bertelsmann Foundation, around 500 000 full – time nursing staff may be absent by 2030 in Germany. A development that has a significant impact on clinical staff and patients and poses major challenges for hospitals.

How bad is the situation at the Medical Campus Bodensee (MCB)? Jochen Wolf, Executive Director, Andreas Stbner, Director of Nursing, and Susan Wrzner, Human Resources Manager and Organization, discuss the issues, their causes and possible solutions.

Did the emergency nurse arrive in the area?

"The problem of the shortage of specialists affects all clinics and, of course, does not stop in front of us," said MCB General Manager Jochen Wolf. 2019 was the first year in which it was difficult to fill all the positions in the clinics in Friedrichshafen, Tettnang and Weingarten. "This mainly concerns nursing, but also functional service," says Wolf. These are specialized specialists working, for example, in the surgical, intensive care or anesthesia departments.

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The following figures clearly show the gap: In 2019, a total of 65 nursing and functional services will be vacant in the three affiliated clinics. Only slightly more than half of the nurses work full-time, the others part-time. "In addition, we have a very high proportion of women nurses," says Jochen Wolf.

Of 1146 nursing and functional staff, 1025 were women and only 121 were men. "On one side, it is normal in this professional field, on the other, it poses challenges," adds the director of nursing, Andreas Stbner. Because in the case of a pregnancy, a caregiver needs to be replaced quickly because it no longer assumes certain tasks in contact with patients or night services.

What does this mean for patients?

"Compared to clinics located in northern or central Germany, we are still doing very well," says Susan Wrzner, head of staff and organization. The situation is so dramatic that the shortage of staff affects the quality of care. In the case of patients, the problem of nursing care is therefore not perceptible. "In addition to the fact that patients often see new faces, we have to partially increase the number of third-party employees," adds Andreas Stbner.

What are the reasons for the lack of specialists?

In the opinion of the Director General of the MCB, the problem of nursing care stems from the evolution of the situation in many areas. "On the one hand, conditions naturally play a role," he explains, citing aspects such as lack of pay and lack of recognition. Since then politics has made mistakes for years. "In addition, the demands and needs of employees have changed," said Wolf. A good balance between work and personal life and a good team work are more important for employees today than before.

"The requirements and needs of employees have changed." Jochen Wolf, Managing Director of MCB
| Image: Medicine Campus Bodensee

Added to this is the fact that nursing processes have so far been optimized and that, on average, patients can be evacuated faster than before. "Today, more and more patients are admitted at the same time, which results in a workload for the staff, because a complete medical history must be established at each new admission," said Jochen Wolf. In addition, there is a geographical disadvantage: "There is too little living space and the one that exists is unfortunately very expensive," says the general manager.

What measures does the MCB want to counteract?

"There is no simple solution," says Andreas Stbner. "To keep employees in the long run, the framework must be correct," he said. As a result, a project group has developed a set of new guidelines that should ensure a good working atmosphere and fair treatment within the team.

"There is no simple solution to the problem of skilled labor." Andreas Stbner, Director of Nursing at MCB
| Image: Medicine Campus Bodensee

In addition, the MCB offers its employees around 150 different working time models the opportunity to work flexibly, full-time or part-time – even returnees can be integrated into the daily routine of the clinic.

"And politics has apparently also noticed that something has to change," said Stbner. For example, the Nursing Act, which came into force in January, is funding additional jobs. "We have created 40 full-time jobs," says Wolf. It is now to occupy. In addition, the collective agreement has significantly improved conditions, adds Susan Wrzner. "Last year, a significantly higher initial salary was set for the nursing staff."

"We want to promote the individuality of the nursing staff." Susan Wrzner, Head of Personnel and Organization
| Image: Medicine Campus Bodensee

Can foreign skilled workers help?

The Bodensee Medical Campus trains 66 new nurses every year. However, this alone is not enough to compensate for the lack of staff. "At the moment, we will not be able to do without foreign specialists," explains Andreas Stbner.

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In recent years, MCB has already continued its successful overseas staffing activities. Since 2017, 36 specialists have been hired abroad and another 17 will follow in 2019. For Susan Wrzner, employee integration takes time. Nursing education abroad not being automatically recognized in Germany, employees are subject to a recognition procedure of six months duration. This is to ensure that they meet the language and professional requirements of the profession.