In the United States, we are facing a major nursing crisis unlike anything we have ever seen. When I ran talent acquisition at a major health system prior to the recession, I thought we had problems. Then the recession hit, and our problems were a bit less serious. Two things helped us. First, fewer nurses retired because of the recession. Second, colleges were first starting to address the crisis by adding additional capacity.
The recession hit full bore, and the nursing shortage didn’t seem that bad. In fact, we started seeing new graduate nurses unable to get jobs. So, we went back to focusing on bigger issues.
Fast forward to 2016, and the nursing shortage is now back — and back in a big way.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. By 2025, the shortfall is expected to be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s,” a team of Vanderbilt University nursing researchers wrote in a 2009 paper on the issue.
To make all of this even worse, all those nurses who didn’t retire during the recession are now retiring en masse. That isn’t a good sign for nursing vacancies, because it’s also one more sign that our population at retirement age is growing exponentially. This also means we’ll need more nurses.
If you’re in the health care industry, you already know all of this. You’re living this nightmare each day. Your recruiters are beyond frustrated in trying to fill openings, only to have more nurses leave every day. So, what can you do?
Let me give you five things you should be doing to fill your nursing openings:
1. Fish in ponds where there are fish! CareerBuilder recently released data that shows exactly where the largest populations of graduate nurses are coming from, and where there is likely an abundance of nurses to hire. The study shows that not all areas are feeling the same pain.
2. Ramp up your relocation plan. People are more willing to move for job positions than you think, but you have to be competitive with relocation. Relocation agreements are expensive, but couple those with a stay agreement and it becomes a great way to retain that talent.
3. Don’t give up on your alumni. An alumni hiring strategy isn’t a one and done proposition. Your past employees want to come back and work for you, but you need to stay after them on an ongoing, continual basis. Your strategy should include at least monthly communication, to include: email, direct mail, text messaging, and social media.
4. Be THE company at your local nursing school. Graduates don’t know who has the best jobs. They get told that by their professors and by those organizations who are on their campus constantly. You have a choice to make. You can be just another company that shows up, or you can be THE’ company that shows up. That investment will be worth it!
5. Develop a gold-plated save strategy. The easiest nursing vacancy to fill is the one you don’t have to fill. Develop a save strategy that will help you retain nurses who put in their resignation. Put them in front of your CEO and CNO before they leave. Ask them specifically what it would take to keep them. You would be shocked at how small and simple some of these requests are from exiting nurses.
Lastly, definitely check out CB’s Where To Find Nurses Now data. It’s pretty amazing and gives you a ton of suggestions on where you should be looking for your next nursing hire!