Nurse Recruiting Best Practices for Thriving in the Competitive Healthcare Landscape
No matter the size or location of your organization, you’ve probably felt the pinch when trying to recruit nurses. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a net gain of 439,000 nursing jobs between 2014 and 2024. To survive in that competitive landscape, healthcare employers will have to be at the top of their game when recruiting nurses.
Nurses are very savvy — they know their skills are in demand, says Seun Ross, Director of Nursing Practice and Work Environment at the American Nurses Association. “They want competitive wages and to be the expert in their field. They innately want to do what’s best and right, not only for patients, but for themselves and their families.”
Here are some best practices to include in your nurse recruiting process.
Tout Your Culture
Nurses are interested in the values and culture of an employer, especially when it comes to the role of caregiving and responses to bullying. “Respect is a real issue in the world of nurses,” says Ron Hamilton, Founder of Practical HR Solutions. “They want to find a place where they’re treated with respect.”
Whether it’s on your careers website or in interviews, talk about the way employees in general and nurses in particular are treated at your organization, experts say. “A lot of places pay lip service to having a positive culture, but if you tell them that there’s no bullying, is that really true?” says Keith Carlson, a Nursing Career Coach. “Nurses want to work in a place that has their back, that really makes sure they’re protected. They’re looking for that reassurance.”
As a 24/7/365 industry, healthcare doesn’t always lend itself to flexibility. It’s difficult or impossible for nurses to run unscheduled errands during their shift in a way an administrator might be able to do. However, Ross says that while the 12-hour shift is still seen as standard at many employers, there are ways to offer more flexibility to attract nurses.
“As hospitals look to recruit nurses, it’s important to get creative with those shifts,” she says. Look for ways to incorporate four- and eight-hour shifts in your schedule to incorporate a variety of employees who are looking for more than “three 12s.” And avoid mandatory overtime when possible, Ross says.
Share Education Opportunities
Nurses are always looking to improve their skills, and employers that can help them learn will catch their eye when they’re searching for a new job. Nurses who are hired and then expected to manage continued learning on their own — or who work in a place where it isn’t rewarded — will quickly become disengaged. “A lot of nurses get bored and feel like there isn’t enough for them to do,” Carlson says, so it’s vital to keep them learning and growing.
Offer benefits such as scholarship programs, seminars, specialized training and other access to education to lure top-notch nurses. “Nurses want employers who can invest in their future,” Carlson says. “They want a place where the employer cares that they learn more skills and knowledge.“ As new technologies and evolutions in practice emerge, keep nurses up-to-date on the latest evidence-based advances.
Emphasize Long-Term Career Prospects
As nurses gain more education, they will want opportunities to grow and take on more responsibilities. Organizations that hire large numbers of newer nurses should be able to highlight the opportunities available for those who choose to build a career there.
Those opportunities may include becoming a charge nurse in a unit or nursing manager, Ross says. Establish clear career paths so you’re ready to develop and build nurses who want to grow in their professions. In addition, nurses are looking for “shared governance,” or a greater role in helping make decisions, so ensure your organization is able to offer that possibility.
The nursing shortage isn’t going away, and organizations of all sizes and specialties will need to address it in their own way. But by following nurse recruiting best practices, they’ll be able to get the nurses they need to provide the best level of care.