The nursing shortage in this country is nothing new. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly put a dent in the available workforce of skilled nurses, the labor shortage industry-wide was pervasive for many years before that. What the pandemic did bring to the spotlight, though, was a renewed focus on the immediate need for recruiting nurses. This has resulted in a continued nationwide urgency to locate, vet, and retain qualified health professionals, including nurses from RNs to LPNs. Here are some tips for your hospital or other medical facility to find the help you need to care for your patients.
1. UNDERSTAND HOW FIERCE THE COMPETITION IS
First off, it’s important to know and recognize the level of competition in this industry. It’s fierce, and it’s not showing any signs of backing off. When supply is low and demand is high, nurse recruiters have to ramp up their efforts and get more aggressive, in order to meet the needs of clients such as hospitals and doctor’s offices.
The number of nursing jobs in this country is expected to rise faster than all other occupations, at a rate of six percent, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some sub sets of the nursing industry, such as those for nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, is expected to grow at a much faster rate of 40 percent.
2. SELL CANDIDATES ON QUALITY
In this day and age, nurses are all about quality over quantity. They don’t want to be overworked, stressed, and under-appreciated. It’s easy to forget that as an office manager or facility supervisor when you have so much work piling up that needs to get done. Remember that nurses want a deep commitment to quality. Make sure they know what you expect of them, and what tools are at their disposal to make sure they can do their jobs. Go out of your way to highlight the ways in which you will support that commitment to quality nursing.
3. THINK OUTSIDE THE HOSPITAL
Many of today’s nurses, from new grads to mid-career nurses, are looking for similar job situations: hospitals located in large city hubs near friends and family. If you are not a big-city hospital that fits that demographic, you will have to get creative in your pitches to nurses for your smaller community-based care facility or other non-hospital setting. Focus on attracting nurses who are looking for flexibility, responsibility, and autonomy in an administrative, consultative, or case-management role perhaps. Try to snag candidates who want something outside the typical hospital environment.
4. ENSURE STRONG SUPERVISORY ROLES
You may have been steering clear of brand new nursing graduates due to the lack of experience. But you’re also finding that quality, experienced nurses in demanding hospital specialties are not cheap and they’re not abundant. Therefore, you have to narrow down your parameters a bit and compromise on the lack of experience. To make up for that lack, invest in creative recruitment solutions, such as through strong preceptor or mentoring programs.
To that end, you may also want to keep an eye on professional development offerings to retain your best nurses, such as mentoring or additional education (i.e., master’s degrees) as part of your organization’s career resources.
5. PARTNER WITH NURSING SCHOOLS TO ENSURE FUTURE HIRES
Every year, nursing schools around the country are forced to turn away about 80,000 qualified applicants due to lack of sufficient classrooms, faculty, and money. Be proactive with your own recruitment pipeline by partnering with area nursing schools to free up bottlenecks in nursing education.
6. BE PROACTIVE ABOUT NURSE RETENTION
You may not think there’s anything you can do to keep the nurses you have from job-hopping, but the fact remains that retention of qualified nurses is a real concern. You can start by treating your nurses as partners in care to solidify their belief that you are investing in them for the long haul. Identifying your organization’s retention strengths is the second step. Once you have those, make them top selling points when developing a recruitment strategy.
7. FOSTER AN INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
Many nurses leave organizations with toxic work environments, often after just a year or two. Company culture and leadership are usually the culprits. Many leadership staff members don’t stand up for their nurses and instead focus on the bottom line or appeasing upper management. On a more granular level, day-to-day company culture can place a stranglehold on forward progress. To combat this, embrace a company culture that is inclusive, tolerant, and helpful rather than one that stifles individuality and the ability to speak up. Set policies that do not tolerate workplace bullying, for example, and enforce them.
Got Nurse Staffing Shortages? Rely on Grace Care Consulting to Help.
Of course, we believe the top tip for combating staffing shortages is to partner with Grace Care Consulting. We boast a reliable network of healthcare professionals, including all levels of nurses, that are available to work on a consulting, permanent, temp to permanent, or per diem basis. To get started, fill out our online form or call us at (540) 546-2799.