There are a combination of issues coming together to create the “perfect storm” in health care recruitment today and contribute to the growing nursing shortage, according to Jim D’Amico, vice president of talent acquisition at Signature Health.
Research shows that one of the most in-demand jobs today is for nursing positions, and a recent CareerBuilder survey showed that 46 percent of health care employers said the role they struggled to fill above all others was that of qualified registered nurses.
We sat down with D’Amico to find out how Signature Health is dealing with the challenge.
CB: What’s contributing to the nursing shortage?
JD: We’re definitely seeing a nursing shortage in the industry. Everybody is very concerned about this because it’s not a short-term problem.
Because of how education and technology has changed, nurses are doing more on the care side and have more knowledge and skill than in the past — they are doing what in the past only doctors used to do.
CB: What are you doing differently to help fill nursing shortages?
JD: If you want to recruit nurses, you have got to be mobile. You have to give them the option of doing everything they need to apply via their phone — your open job listings, application process, career site, etc. has to be mobile-optimized.
We asked nurses how they look for jobs. Guess what? I have an office; they don’t. They don’t have a place with a desktop where they can sit down and look for jobs. They typically will get to their cars and pull out their phones — so you have to be ready for them to get the information they need to apply right there.
A lot of nurses may go home and may not have computers anymore; they’re on phones and tablets right now.
CB: How can joining together with educational institutions help to close the nursing gap?
JD: Well, the panic is increasing as people are doing the math and realizing that the number of people heading into nursing school is not enough.
That’s why we’re talking to people who are in middle school about careers in health care and why nursing is a good role. It helps to sell it early. Students are often coming from environments where they’re the first person to ever go to college, so a career in nursing can change their community.
Education requirements may get tougher, which further delays people from hitting the ground running.
Even if we had bigger classes of nurses, I don’t know that every geographic area would have enough clinicals for nurses. They’re feeding into each other. Some of the technologies accelerate the learnings in different ways. For instance, places like The Cleveland Clinic have really cool robots — they are leveraging more technology to prepare more nurses to be in the field.
CB: Can you give us an example of how you partnered with an educational institution?
JD: Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, developed a program we benefited from called a veteran’s degree in nursing. We could recruit folks who were corpsmen or medics (not nurses) and in two years you could go to Davenport and become an RN. I’d love to see more schools do that, and there is no cost because the initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. So we can hire them to work for us at a lower level while they’re going to school.
CB: What else are you doing differently to help fill the nursing shortage?
JD: We’re changing the way we post and advertise our jobs so it’s more about what we expect you to accomplish than what you’re expected to do every minute of the day. We are also tying it in with social media where people can share knowledge and opportunities.
We are also very aggressive about recruiting out of the military — there are a lot of clinical professionals. When you recruit them, a lot of them came from rural environments, so it’s a good opportunity to boomerang them because there is more of a willingness to go to rural areas. That’s a plus because it’s unlike in urban settings, where you have a bigger candidate pool and more sources to pull from.
CB: What other trends are you noticing?
JD: We’re seeing more of a focus on engagement in the nursing profession than in the past, where more active steps are being taken. Even two years ago, people weren’t doing as much with stay interviews. People are fighting more today to retain nurses when they turn in their two weeks’ notice.
There is also a focus on continued education, and talking to nursing professionals about career ladders when they weren’t there or visible before. All of this helps with retention.
We in the health care industry are not partnering with each other as much as we should; we’re too competitive. But we need to remember that it goes beyond our competitive needs — it’s the needs of our communities that need to be addressed.