According to U.S. government statistics, registered nurses (RNs) represent the largest occupation segment in the health care industry, holding about 2.5 million jobs in 2006.1 The majority of RNs (59%) worked in a hospital setting, with the rest distributed among physician offices, home health services, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and other facilities.
Moreover, employment among RNs is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2016 and, because this storied profession is already very large, that means many new jobs will be created. In fact, registered nurses are projected to generate upwards of 590,000 new positions, among the largest number of new jobs for any line of work – including hundreds of thousands of job openings resulting from the need to replace experienced nurses who leave the occupation.
What’s driving up the employment rate? There are several factors at work: technological advances in patient care, an increasing emphasis on preventive medicine, and a swelling aged population. However, despite the positive outlook, overall employment growth in the U.S. may vary by industry and geographical region.
Specifically, employers in some parts of the country and in certain employment settings — such as hospitals, where the number of inpatients is leveling off as more people are being discharged earlier than before and outpatient procedures are more frequent — report difficulty in attracting and retaining an adequate number of RNs. Many of these employers are relying on temporary workers to fill short-term needs or resorting to hiring foreign-educated nurses to fill vacant positions.
Get Expert Help
Why is all of this important to you? Well, someone is going to be asked to interview or otherwise meet, then possibly hire, and certainly train and place all of these new nurses. And if that someone is you, then we’ve got some ideas that might help you succeed.
For starters, if you want to recruit an experienced nursing workforce (and you do!), you need the help of an experienced recruitment team, trained specifically to recruit the most qualified nurses for the positions you need to fill. That may sound simplistically obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people ignore these factors. By working with the experts, you can gain access to “the right tools” and the know-how needed to attract, train and maintain the best staff. Also, if you do recruitment right, you can lower your vacancy rates and eliminate agency costs.
One of the most successful strategies we recommend is to place a team of experienced recruiters within an organization, rather than provide services from an offsite location. We have developed a methodology to work from within that is designed to increase the pipeline of applicants and accelerate hiring them. Our team starts with a quick but extensive analysis of a hospital’s needs (what we call our “Strategic Recruitment Optimization” program), then we customize a “rapid hire” strategy to quickly fill the nursing positions with qualified and experienced candidates.
One of the biggest advantages to having an experienced recruitment staff onsite is that the more the team works with an organization the more familiar it becomes with the unique recruitment challenges and opportunities faced by the hospital. This way, the team can streamline the process using industry-tested expertise and tools to create a self-sustaining nurse recruitment program — maintaining a low vacancy rate and establishing the hospital as the preferred place to work in the community.
The onsite recruitment strategy is most successful when a hospital staff recognizes that it needs help evaluating its process and has the resources (and desire) to implement the team’s recommendations on its own. In this situation, the onsite recruitment team can use its “outsider’s” perspective to identify barriers and make recommendations for best practices, and then work hand in hand with the hospital staff to open the pipeline and optimize recruitment of nursing professionals.
Another big advantage to working with an “inhouse” team of experts is time management. By letting the experts handle the tasks they are trained to do – for instance, improve applicant-to-interview and interview-to-hire ratios, increase hiring manager satisfaction, boost initial retention rates, enhance customer service and responsiveness to candidates – the hospital nursing staff can focus on what they do best – improving the lives of patients.
Visit RSI Onsite online for more information about nurse recruitment strategies and solutions.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Registered Nurses, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos083.htm (visited April 15, 2009).