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Aya Healthcare Recruiting Nurses for UC San Diego Health

HEALTHCARE: New Partnership Targets Staffing Shortage

Aya Healthcare, a medical staffing company based in San Diego, has formed a partnership with UC San Diego Health to recruit nurses and other hospital workers to help deal with ongoing shortages of hospital personnel.

Doug Levine
Director of Talent Acquisition, Compensation and Benefit Services
UC San Diego Health

“The reality is every hospital is struggling with trying to get enough nurses and critical staff,” said Doug Levine, director of talent acquisition, compensation and benefit services at UC San Diego Health.

“It’s not going to ease tomorrow and it’s not going to ease next year,” Levine said. “We need more nurses because we’re growing as an organization.

Levine said UC Health has “to pull every lever” to fill nursing and other hospital slots.

“It’s more than nurses,” he said, adding that lab and surgical technicians, custodians and food service workers also are needed.

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UC San Diego Health’s partnership with Aya Healthcare grew out of a longstanding relationship in which Aya provided traveling nurses to fill staffing vacancies on a temporary basis.

“I would not say we use Aya exclusively but they’re the ones that we use the most,” Levine said. “From a travel nurse perspective, we’ve used them for a number of years.”

The company still connects travel nurses with UC San Diego Health, but since last year, has been finding nurses and other workers to fill permanent positions.

Sophia Morris
Executive VP of Client Fulfillment and Strategy teams
Aya Healthcare

“UCSD is a very special client of ours, being a local client,” said Sophia Morris, Aya Healthcare executive vice president of client fulfillment and strategy teams.

Burnout and Retirement

Morris said that the challenge of filling hospital jobs “is across the country, not just in San Diego.”

“There’s a much higher need than usual for permanent staff,” Morris said, partly due to burnout from the stress hospital workers were under during the worst of the pandemic.

Retirements also are up as hospital workers who put off retiring during the pandemic feel more comfortable about leaving.

The number of medical staff openings Aya has seen has doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic, Morris said.

Prior to the pandemic, there typically were about 100,000 openings, Morris said. “Now we’re seeing 200,000,” she added. “A lot of clinicians have left altogether because of the burnout, so the demand for staff has gone up. There also have been people who retired.”

Sarah Stevens is a former travel nurse who found a permanent position with UC San Diego Health in September through Aya.

“I did the travel thing for about half of my career,” said Stevens, who has been in nursing for about 2 ½ years.

“I really wanted to settle down at this point. I originally am from San Diego and didn’t want to move around anymore,” Stevens said, adding that she worked in out-of-state hospitals as a travel nurse  but UCSD Health has been her “dream” job.

“I’ve been in positions where I’ve worked and I’ve had to accept one or two more patients than what’s safe. At UCSD, I’ve never experienced that. It’s been super,” Stevens said. “They really know what they’re doing.”

The typical travel nurse contract at UCSD Health is for 13 weeks, but the nurses can extend it up to 39 weeks, Levine said.

“One of two things happen. Usually by a year or two, they go somewhere else. Often, they go, ‘I’m staying,’ so we convert them to a regular UCSD nurse,” Levine said. “It’s a pipeline for us.”

Another source of nursing talent tapped by UCSD Health and other hospitals is recent nursing school graduates, but Levine said that new graduates alone aren’t enough.

“As a patient, you don’t want a floor with all new grad nurses,” Levine said. “There is a huge pipeline of new grads coming out, but you have to supplement that with experienced nurses.”

Aya Healthcare

Founded: 2001
Headquarters: Sorrento Valley
CEO: Alan Braynin
Business: Healthcare staffing
Employees: 5,358 corporate employees
Contact: 866-687-7390
Website:  www.ayahealthcare.com
Notable: Aya is the largest healthcare staffing and technology company in the U.S.

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