Critical is a term often used in healthcare settings. Unfortunately, it is an adjective used to describe the nursing shortage in the U.S. and raises an alarm in the healthcare system. It is paramount that healthcare employers find ways to reverse the nursing shortage.
Since the mid-1930s, the U.S. has faced a shortage of qualified nurses for doctors’ offices, hospitals, and home healthcare agencies. According to employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2019-2029, Registered Nurses (RNs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are in the most demand. Job growth is anticipated at 7% and 45%, respectively.
Many healthcare employers continue to struggle to fill open positions. To help offset nursing shortages, more employers are offering sign-on bonuses and other incentives to get nurses in the door. While sign-on bonuses may work for some healthcare employers, it will not solve the problem in the long term.
Reasons for the nursing shortage
One of the biggest contributors to the nursing shortage is the aging workforce. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the average age of nurses in the nursing profession is 50. Many nurses choose to retire early because of the mental and physical demands of the healthcare industry. There are not enough new nurses to replace those who are retiring or leaving the field for other reasons.
Other contributing factors include:
An aging population. Life expectancy for the average American is 78.7 years. With Americans living longer, there is a greater need for qualified healthcare professionals in all fields.
Nurse burnout. The complexity of healthcare needs, combined with nurses who are overworked and emotionally exhausted, leads to nurse burnout.
Five nursing recruitment strategies
Competition for top nursing talent is fierce. Nurse recruiters must come up with some innovative approaches for securing nurses that go above and beyond the usual perks like tuition reimbursement and retention bonuses. Here are five solid strategies that can help.
1. Develop a millennial mentality
Millennials have a growth mindset. They are not interested in sign-on bonuses and the usual perks. What they want from an employer is access to resources that can help them advance their careers. Millennials also have a deep desire to help people. This may explain why nursing and healthcare careers tend to be attractive career choices for them. So, healthcare employers that figure out how to combine these two characteristics will appeal to not only the millennial generation but also to most age groups pursuing a nursing career.
2. Boost your benefits
When we talk about benefits, we mean more than the standard paid time off and health insurance coverage that most full-time jobs in all fields offer. Nursing school is expensive, especially for nurses who pursue more advanced degrees like a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). College loan forgiveness is one way to attract the right candidates to open nursing positions. Another way is to offer outside-the-box amenities like on-site fitness centers (plus time to visit them) and an emphasis on flexible schedules to promote work-life balance. These are the kinds of perks that get nurses in the door and help keep them on the job.
3. Offer residency programs
With more nurses pursuing Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, there is a greater need for residency programs to accept them after graduation. An ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) to a BSN bridge program is a very attractive way to advance a nurse’s career. Hospitals are in the best position for offering residency programs designed to transition new BSN graduates from the classroom into hands-on experience in their field. Any residency program must include adequate support for nurses to ensure they have the guidance needed to become successful in their new role. This includes assigning mentors to all new nurses. Nurses who have a personal coach they can trust to help lead them are more likely to continue nursing well beyond their residency years.
4. Nix toxicity in the workplace
A significant percentage of nurses leave the workforce because of the negative behaviors of coworkers, supervisors, or both. Company culture and subpar leadership are usually the root causes of a toxic environment. Healthcare employers must have a process in place that allows nurses to report bullying and other undesirable behavior. They must also hold senior staff members – including management – accountable for actions that go against established standards.
5. Hire a recruiter
Most large healthcare employers, like hospitals, have Human Resources departments tasked with staff recruitment. HR departments have other responsibilities, which can lessen the time they have to devote to candidate enlistment. Recruiters not your thing? No problem. Consider putting technology to work for you instead. Incredible Health is a marketplace technology that works with your recruiting team to hire permanent, specialized nurses. You can schedule a demo of our product to learn more.
A final word on recruiting nurses
Focusing on the needs of nursing candidates – supportive work environment, sense of community, career advancement – is the key to boosting your recruitment efforts. When you meet their needs, quality candidates will come to you.