RN Weekender Programs Offer Flexibility for Better Work-Life Balance: Q&A With Mary Ellen Sumrall

The new RN Weekender programs recently rolled out at Baptist Memorial Health Care offer benefits not only for nurses who fill those positions, but also for other team members and patients. The programs will help strengthen the quality of care patients receive and ensure hospitals are staffed with experienced nurses every day, including the weekends.

Mary Ellen Sumrall, system chief nursing executive for Baptist Memorial Health Care and chief nursing officer for Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, explains more about these exciting new programs.

Why are the RN Weekender programs important?

The RN Weekender programs give nurses more of a work-life balance to better support their health and well-being. It’s stressful out there in today’s world and in the hospital environment with the constant ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic. When working in the hospital, you want your mind, body and spirit to be there to help you stay focused while providing the best care to patients.

How are the RN Weekender programs unique in the health care community?

These new programs offer flexibility and the opportunity to work less and still make a good living. With the RN Weekender programs, we redefined the weekend. It used to be Saturday and Sunday, but it’s difficult for some people to dedicate the entire weekend, every weekend to work.

We broke up the weekend into sections. You can either work a Friday and Saturday, a Saturday and Sunday or a Sunday and Monday. With some of the programs, you can work two days and get paid for four. Working two days a week, you can still homeschool children, participate in kids’ activities or have family time.

Another option with the program is working Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday every other week. You work four days, and you’re off 10 days. That’s beautiful. You have a vacation almost every other week. With another option, we have a full-time and part-time float pool where you work in a variety of areas, earning more because you’re willing to work in other places. That’s a great, flexible option, but it is about redefining the work schedule to fit any lifestyle.

Sometimes you need to be off so that you can regenerate. These new programs provide the balance you need to remain healthy and happy at home and work.

So, the RN Weekender programs help other nurses who don’t participate in the program have more weekends off?

Yes. They can work more during the week and have more weekends off. It’s a balanced approach so that everyone has a schedule that works for his or her life.

How will the programs benefit Baptist?

I think they will improve quality of care on the weekends. The programs help us cover areas on the weekends where we need consistent, dependable coverage. It also gives us a targeted approach for covering shifts that have been more difficult to cover – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We split it up so it’s a win-win.

With the benefits of these programs, I believe we’ll have happier employees, resulting in a better work environment at our hospitals and greater satisfaction among team members.

Who can apply for positions with the RN Weekender programs?

The RN Weekender programs are available at all of our hospitals, depending on need. If positions are available, they’re open to both internal and external candidates. To qualify, nurses must have at least one year of experience in the chosen specialty.

What message would you like to give to all Baptist nurses?

My message to them is that we care about you. When you come here to work, I want to make sure that you have the resources you need. We’re trying to build up our workforce, so that when you’re at work, you’re not affected by staff shortages.

We are developing programs like this to help you love your job again and have time to regenerate. You can find your joy and bring it back to work. We want to have a joyful, loving environment.

To learn more about Baptist’s RN Weekender programs, visit https://baptistnurses.org/rnweekender/.