Hiring the right nurse starts wih attracting the right candidates

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Imagine the situation: You have just finished interviewing a nurse for an open position. Her résumé looks fine, she said all the right things, and you are desperate to bring in another staff member to relieve the pressure. But a current employee comes up to you and says she worked with the interviewee at a past job and the candidate was not the type of nurse you should hire. Do you take her advice?

It may be tempting to overlook the advice, but experts say seeking input from existing staff members can help you hire a candidate who not only possesses the necessary clinical skills, but also has the character to fit in on your unit.

Hiring nurses is not an exact science, but there are steps managers can take to recruit the best candidates. It’s important to get the right people through the door by writing an appealing, informative recruitment ad; screening résumés; and calling references.

Decide who you want to recruit

Before placing an ad, it’s important to decide what type of person you want to recruit for your unit, says Tom Ealey, a professor at Alma (MI) College and an experienced practice administrator and practice management consultant.

Angela W. Gordon, practice administrator at Dunwoody (GA) Pediatrics, says she also decides on spec- ific requirements before beginning the recruiting process. “You need to assess exactly what this person’s job description and job requirements will be, as well as experience and educational background,” says Gordon.

Ealey says the quality of a new hire really comes down to two things: aptitude and attitude. “Somebody with a good aptitude and attitude I can train,” he says. “For someone with a bad attitude, it doesn’t matter how much you train them.”

Write an attractive, accurate ad

Once you’ve determined the type of person you’d like to hire, write a detailed recruitment ad. It’s important to “be very specific in your recruiting ad, otherwise you will receive a lot of unqualified résumés,” says Gordon.

“You need a concise ad with clear information. If you want certain experience, you have to put that in the ad,” Ealey says.

After you’ve written the ad, it’s time to decide where to place it. “Contact any of your listservs or associations you are affiliated with and let them know what you are looking for,” Gordon says. “Many times, they have résumés on file or they may know of a good candidate.”

Screen résumés and interview candidates

Hopefully, after carefully writing a detailed recruitment ad and placing it with the right publications and organizations, you will have several résumés of well-qualified applicants to weed through.

After choosing the applicants you want to interview, think about what questions you want to ask them to get a better idea about their experience and behavior.

It is also important to call references for every serious candidate because hearing about someone from a past employer is often helpful, Ealey says.

“I try to get a picture of a person because they’re going to have to be part of the team and they’re going to have to deal with people,” he says. “There’s a cliché we throw around—we can improve skills, but we can’t change personality.”


Adapted from The Doctor’s Office, August 2009, HCPro, Inc.