Cross-Training Healthcare Clinicians and Technicians Can Help Alleviate Staffing Shortages

By Kerri Fitzgerald - Last Updated: June 15, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant staffing shortages throughout the healthcare industry, including nuclear medicine and radiology departments. Shortages are due to many factors, including worker illnesses, quarantine policies, resignations, employees’ refusal to get vaccines, closures of childcare centers and schools, and burnout. A presentation at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Annual Meeting encouraged institutions to consider cross-training to help address staffing issues.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many issues and disruptions in the nuclear and radiology departments, which have direct effects on patient care. With shortages in healthcare workers, various study subdivisions my not have trained technologists to cover specific areas, impacting workflow and study performance,” wrote the authors, led by Eleanor Kim, of New York Medical College. “Staffing shortages in various subdivisions of nuclear medicine can lead to failure to perform examinations due to lack of trained personnel and canceled appointments, delayed patient care, and wasting of radiopharmaceuticals.”

They argued that cross-training certain technical personnel can help alleviate staffing issues, allowing employees to float and help cover areas in need. In addition, the strategy can build employees’ skill sets, providing more job satisfaction and future upward mobility.

The business model involves matching workers to additional or alternative roles and activities according to their existing skills, then providing training to “reskill” employees or add to their existing knowledge. For example, general nuclear medicine technologists should train in specific modalities, such as positron emission tomography/computed tomography or nuclear cardiology. This can be done digitally or in person, with employees taking online courses or shadowing colleagues in related fields.

The authors also encouraged physicians to cross train so they can cover the activities and roles of other clinicians. If you’re interested on a healthcare career, there are good jobs at Houston healthcare and similar facilities.