Nurse Recruitment Strategies for an Uncertain Future

In our last post, we talked about the mounting challenges of recruiting nurses – amid a burgeoning nursing shortage and a tempestuous climate for healthcare legislation. In this turbulent and competitive environment, a comprehensive recruiting strategy contributes to success for the entire organization.


What steps can recruiters and employers take to find, land, and keep highly qualified nurses? Here are a few issues and ideas we’ve been reading and talking about. They highlight not just the steps recruiters can take to attract good candidates, but also long-term strategies that healthcare practices and institutions can follow to meet the challenges of an uncertain future.



Of course, budgets being what they are, recruiting efforts must be efficient. But vacancies carry costs for the organization, not the least of which is excess strain on current staff who have to carry the load – with impacts on employee satisfaction and retention.


It should (almost) go without saying, but compensation needs to be up to par. The Wall Street Journal article on the “retirement wave” mentioned in part 1 cites increased wage growth and generous sign-on bonuses in some markets. Keeping up with employment and salary trends in your region is essential to finding and keeping top nursing talent.



Is your organization “on message” with what makes it a great place to work, as well as a top choice for patient care? Not coincidentally, the two are often related. Data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators suggest that nurses with high job satisfaction are not only more likely to stay, but also provide higher-quality care. When nurses enjoy their jobs, patient outcomes improve.


Your institution needs a strong and positive image in your market and region.  One survey found that nurses tend to stick close to home — over half of newly licensed RNs work within 40 miles of where they went to high school. The same strategy and presence used to build trust that a hospital or practice is a good choice for care can also communicate to nurses that it’s a great place to work.


Retention and Relationships

A strong retention program is an essential complement to recruitment efforts. According to one consultant, development and retention should have “equal emphasis” to attracting and hiring candidates.


As discussed on our previous blog, quality of life has become a key factor in attracting and keeping excellent nurses. Flexible scheduling and professional support may be equally attractive to “Millennial” nurses getting started in their careers, as well as “Baby Boomer” nurses who might be open to delaying retirement. Career resources could be attractive not only for younger nurses seeking professional development, but for middle- and late-career nurses interested in exploring new roles.


Are you focused on building relationships?

Think about your institution’s presence and image in the community, including local and regional colleges and nursing schools. AACN’s initiatives to increase diversity in nursing school enrollment includes reaching out to high schools and even middle schools. American Journal of Nursing recently reported on a “collaborative model” to increase the pipeline of BSN-trained nurses in the Cleveland area.


Candidates – Where to Find Them?

When it comes to identifying and attracting good candidates for open nursing positions, it’s important to cover all the bases. Online job boards are an important and powerful tool, but they’re just the start—the modern version of placing a ‘Help Wanted’ ad in the classified section of the newspaper.


Targeted emails, print and online journal advertising, sponsored educational programs — any or all of these can be an effective and highly targeted part of your plan to identify and attract top candidates. When you’re looking for high-impact, highly skilled specialists, nursing specialty organizations and journals can be an important point of contact. Like physicians, specialist nurses strongly identify with their area of practice, and are invested in staying active and contributing to the advancement of their chosen field.


Keeping up with new technology in healthcare recruiting is challenging but essential. Many institutions are having success with interactive content – others are embracing (and outsourcing) recruiting services like online job fairs. In the smartphone era, it almost goes without saying that your recruiting and communication efforts need to be cross-channel and mobile friendly. Our research shows that nurses as a group have high ownership and high use of digital devices.


We’re all getting more comfortable with social media as well. These days, a well thought-out LinkedIn presence seems essential. Used judiciously, Twitter can be a low-cost and effective way to stay in regular contact with a self-selected audience of potential candidates. But ultimately, it’s not about getting clicks, views, or impressions—It’s about making meaningful connections with the networks, organizations, and resources that nurses rely on, value, and trust!


Contact us to learn how Wolters Kluwer can help you recruit qualified nursing candidates through print and online advertising, email, and custom projects.​

Contact us to develop your multichannel campaign to recruit qualified nurses.

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