By Christina Orlovsky, senior staff writer
With an expected need for more than one million new nurses by
the year 2012, hospitals across the country are working hard to recruit valuable
professionals with innovative and competitive recruitment programs. From
recruitment dinners to collaborative education programs, to tuition
reimbursement and loan repayment plans, incentive and job referral programs and
beyond, there’s no limit to the tools hospitals use to appeal to new recruits.
For some hospitals and nursing programs, recruitment begins
early. A recruiter from the University of Florida’s College of Nursing plants
the seed about the nursing profession in the minds of elementary school students
through monthly classroom visits. Other hospitals have implemented exploratory
programs for junior high and high school students considering a career in
For the most part, however, recruitment programs are geared
toward new graduates or those nurses looking to enter—or re-enter—the nursing
profession sooner, rather than later. Facilities offer externship programs for
nurses in their last six months of nursing school. Some hospitals, like Columbus
Regional Hospital, in Columbus, Indiana, offer nursing students the opportunity
to work at the hospital part time while attending school. These students are
also invited into the “nurse buddy” program, in which staff nurses mentor
students one-on-one to help with their professional development.
Development is also important to the recruitment process at
Central Baptist Hospital, in Lexington, Kentucky—development of relationships
with nursing students and local educational institutions as well as a pool of
The presence of five local nursing schools competing for
faculty funding inspired Central Baptist Hospital to create a unique recruitment
program called Partnership for Education in Nursing (PEN). According to Karen S.
Hill, RN, MSN, CNAA, FACHE, vice president and chief nursing executive at
Central Baptist Hospital, one of the program’s goals is to “develop a pipeline
of new employees by capitalizing on the large number of students who rotate
through the hospital each semester.”
The PEN program has seven key components: an on-site skills
lab staffed with a full-time educator, scholarship dollars, free continuing
education for faculty, loan repayment, student recognition, marketing efforts
and a speakers bureau. Of all the components, Hill finds her marketing efforts
reap the most rewards.
“I used to buy mailing lists and do mass mailings, but I
realized I was mailing to people who already had jobs,” Hill said. “Then I did
focus groups with new grads and found out that they chose us because of our
clinicals. I decided that instead of marketing to the masses, I would do target
To do this, Hill personally meets with clinical groups over
breakfast or lunch, answers questions, speaks on topics of interest and advises
students on what they can expect as new grads. She gives tips on what to look
for in benefits packages and discusses some of Central Baptist’s professional
programs for nurses, including the facility’s professional ladder, opportunities
for nurses to advance and the hospital’s pursuit of Magnet status. Hill has also
given out T-shirts or ponchos with the PEN program and Central Baptist logos.
Hill credits her nurse recruitment success—a 1.6 percent
vacancy rate in 2004, down from 2.7 percent in 2003—partially to her presence
and reputation in the community, but mostly to her willingness to educate the
students and new graduates.
“It is very beneficial to market to the students so that they
are already familiar with you,” Hill said. “It has worked well for me. Every
semester I have interest in more positions than I can fulfill.”
Fulfilling positions before the need arises is the name of the
game at Medical Center of McKinney, in McKinney, Texas. Although the hospital is
not currently experiencing a shortage—in fact, it has a turnover rate below the
average of the surrounding Dallas/Fort Worth area—McKinney is the fastest
growing community under 50,000 people in the United States, according to Sandra
Fulce, the center’s director of marketing.
Not only is the McKinney community growing, but the hospital
is expanding as well, with additions including a congestive heart failure unit
and a neonatal intensive care unit. In preparation for this growth, the hospital
is looking for a few good nurses.
“We are trying to prepare for the growth that is going to hit
us in the next eight to 12 months,” Fulce said, explaining that the hospital was
looking for a recruitment technique that would draw attention to the hospital.
What better way to draw attention than by posting a billboard
announcement reading: “Tell Your Friends to Quit Their Jobs”—the first step in a
campaign the hospital rolled out in March. The billboard directs readers to a
hospital job search web site which describes the recruitment perk: a $500
referral bonus for every successful employment referral. The first 50 applicants
were to be entered into a drawing for a grand prize trip to Las Vegas.
On the first day, Fulce said, the hospital almost made its
grand prize quota, receiving résumés from 45 qualified nursing candidates.
“The recruitment campaign definitely fulfilled its goal of
creating a buzz,” she said.
University of Florida College of Nursing
Columbus Regional Hospital
Central Baptist Hospital
Medical Center of McKinney
© 2005. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.