Hospital’s homemade recruitment campaign reels in nearly 80 nurses in 80 days

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Healthcare facilities invest large amounts of money on external recruitment agencies to bring nurses through their doors. But for some facilities, the most effective recruitment strategies begin right at home.

"Instead of investing $100,000 in an agency that would recruit five nurses over the year, we opted to do something different," says Robert L. Dent, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, FACHE, vice president of nursing at Midland Memorial Hospital in Midland, TX.

That something different was investing the money they would have spent at an agency, along with the recruitment team's efforts, in its own campaign called "80 Nurses in 80 Days" that was launched this past April. The extra cash helped spur the aggressive, home-grown recruitment campaign that enabled Midland, a 320-bed facility, to recruit 78 nurses in only three months. While the hospital fell just short of its goal, it far exceeded the number of nurses it had originally hoped to recruit, says Dent.

Crafting the campaign

The first step was to create a recruitment team that would spearhead the effort at the facility. Wanting opinions and voices from throughout the hospital, Dent organized a group made up of:

  • Members of the public relations department
  • Members of the human resources department
  • Directors of nursing

During the planning stages of the campaign, the recruitment team met twice each week, devising the specifics, such as mapping out recruitment goals and deadlines for those goals. The facility needed 66 nurses to meet its needs, but decided to aim high and tailor a plan to hire 80 nurses by the end of June, which gave them less than three months from the start of the effort.

To attract attention to the campaign, the team decided to advertise in four main ways:

  • Billboards
  • Radio commercials
  • Poster displays in the hospital
  • Open houses

Open houses are especially useful, Dent says, as they provide candidates with an inside glimpse of the facility and its people, which often yields job opportunities quickly.

Existing Midland nurses were also offered a special incentive for recruiting new nurses themselves. Typically, referral bonuses had only been offered for specific positions, but during the campaign, bonuses were offered for recruiting nurses to any position.

Keeping in touch

Once billboards were in place, radio commercials were recorded, and poster displays were set up, Dent says the recruitment team met weekly to ensure deadlines were being met, and to review where the campaign stood as far as the number of nurses recruited.

To keep the entire facility in the loop, Dent sent out a weekly e-mail providing updates about the campaign's status and the number of new nurses on board. He also posted information in his blog on the facility's intranet site so staff members were aware of the campaign's progress.

Seeing the results

Although Midland did not meet the 80-nurse mark by the end of the 80 days, it was still deemed a huge success by Dent and the team. By mid-July, only two weeks later, 78 new nurses were employed at the hospital.

In addition to the advertising and assistance from Midland's existing nurses, Dent says the campaign was successful largely because of timing.

"There were several things converging together," Dent says. "Graduation [from nursing school], Nurse's Week, and Hospital Week created an environment that helped us."