Facility hosts pajama party to find nightshift nurses

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The sluggish economy is hurting hospital budgets across the country, so many organizations are looking for recruitment ideas other than high-dollar sign-on bonuses. Some organizations are setting themselves apart by organizing low-cost, but high creativity recruitment initiatives to drum up interest in their open vacancies.

In an attempt to fill some empty night slots, Haywood Regional Medical Center in Clyde, NC, chose to do this by hosting a pajama party-themed open house.

"We had previously held a couple [of] open houses that were rather successful in recruiting nursing staff [for day shifts]," says Royanne Schumacher, RN, quality improvement and education coordinator for nursing, who says the facility had hired 90 nurses in the previous four months. "But we wanted to fill evening positions and we wanted to target nurses who work nights."

The big party, which the hospital hoped would result in the recruitment of six nightshift nurses, was held in September.

Popping the popcorn

The pajama party theme arose during discussions between Schumacher, Patrick Larose, BSN, RN, director of nursing education and quality, and the organization's interim director of nursing. Larose had tried a similar event at a nursing home he formerly worked at that had reeled in several nightshift nurses.

To drum up interest for the event, the organization:

  • Published the event in the print and online version of a local newspaper
  • Featured it on the online recruitment and advertising Web site,

And to attract nurses to Larose's first pajama party, the organization sent out:

  • A direct mass-market mailing piece 2-3 weeks before the event
  • An animated e-mail postcard to nurses the week of the event

The big night

Holding the event at Haywood offered convenience for potential nursing night staff.

"The nurses could go on a tour if they wanted," says Schumacher. "And they could review our benefits right onsite."

HR staff and directors of units who had vacancies were present to conduct interviews and hire nurses on the spot.
To accentuate the pajama party theme, the facility had movies, beverages, and a popcorn machine on hand.

"We did not go so far as wearing pajamas, but a few people wore slippers," says Schumacher. "We had a good time."

But although the event was both creative and enjoyable, the facility fell short of its goal and only hired one nurse. Schumacher and Larose suspect this was due to timing.

"It was the third of a series of three events," Schumacher says. "At that point we had pretty much drained the local market." Holding the event in the spring when new graduates are finishing up school might have yielded a higher volume of attendance, she says.

But despite not meeting the original plan, considering the competitive market and the scarcity of nurses who want to work night shifts, Larose says hiring that one nurse made the entire event worthwhile.