What is the Staffing Office?

by | Dec 19, 2012

As the parents of two children born after 9/11, my wife and I find ourselves occasionally having to stop and explain terms and concepts to our kids. And these are not complicated, philosophical concepts – they are more in line with mixing in typical words and phrases that leave the kiddos wondering exactly what planet we came from!

Some of these phrases are obvious: try to weave the words “phone cord” or “floppy disk” into a conversation with an eight or ten year old, and you’ll get a puzzled look. Our kids manage to take it a step a further and question us on why we use the phrase “tape a show” instead of “record a show.” It makes us stop and think for a second. (And usually we’re thinking something along the lines of “Is it worth trying to give the full explanation or do we just say that’s another term that means the same thing?”)

Since we’re going to be talking a lot about staffing offices in this blog post, it occurred to me I should stop and define the term “staffing office” for everyone so we are all thinking and talking about the same thing. Staffing offices in hospitals have evolved over the years—and are continuing to evolve!—so I don’t want to make insightful observations while you get stuck on my references to the staffing office equivalent of a rotary phone. And that can go the other way too—I know there are a lot of you who think of a “cloud” as just something fluffy in the sky and not an IT infrastructure model for applications!

Let’s define the term:

A “Staffing Office” is a department in a hospital that is responsible for the coordination of nurses and their scheduled shift assignments.

There are a lot of other things that staffing offices may do and be responsible for, but if they don’t do this—coordinating nurses and scheduled shift assignments—then they are not really a staffing office.

What are other things a staffing office may or may not do? How else can we differentiate and distinguish staffing office responsibilities? Here are some other common factors: 

  • Responsible for techs’ scheduled shift assignments in addition to nurses
  • Responsible for in-patient areas only
  • Responsible for all nursing areas, but not ancillaries
  • Responsible for generating schedule reports
  • Responsible for calling in staff to fill holes, flexing off staff, and floating staff to other units
  • Responsible for distribution of an internal float pool
  • Responsible for coordination of external agency/registry staff usage

This can look like one person making up the staffing office or a group of people. It can be staffed 24/7 or day shift hours only.

When it comes to a staffing office, it’s like a good pair of scrubs. There is no “one-size-fits-all.”

There are other ways staffing offices are starting to evolve, and  we are going to discuss those as well. Some hospitals have them be a part of the scheduling process. (More to come on the difference between “scheduling” and “staffing.”) Others have them assist with timekeeping responsibilities. Every hospital has their own unique staffing office.

What are some unique aspects of your hospital’s staffing office? Does it have responsibilities we haven’t talked about yet? Use the comments section below or send a message on Twitter to @FlandersChris or @Axsium.  

 

 

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