Recruitment Solutions During a Nursing Shortage

December 27, 2021
Leila Spann
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Today, many healthcare organizations face an extreme shortage of nurses. While the past few years have been a struggle for healthcare providers worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the sole cause of this nursing shortage. Some other variables to the nursing shortage include more healthcare workers retiring and inadequate funding of nursing programs.  

While these issues can be difficult for healthcare organizations to resolve directly, there are steps that you can take to help combat this nursing shortage. The first step is to streamline your recruitment process to make hiring new nurses easier.

What’s All This Talk about the Nursing Shortage?

The current nursing shortage is a big topic for every branch of the healthcare industry. There are an inadequate number of nurses and a low number of resources available to support nurses in the changing healthcare environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the healthcare industry more demanding and requires nurses to have a wider capacity for work without sufficient support. 

Without support, many current nurses have faced burnout, or have otherwise been unable to fulfill their duties. Up and coming nurses have not been able to be registered, as nursing schools have had inadequate staffing, teaching facilities, clinical sites, and funding. While many aspiring nurses haven’t been able to finish their degrees, recently registered nurses are also not starting their careers in hospitals. The American Journal of Nursing stated that more nurses are working as managers while enrolled in formal education programs. Each of these instances has created a perfect storm of a nursing shortage. 

While the size of the shortage is difficult to quantify, the consequences can be easily seen throughout the country. With data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bloomberg reports critical staffing shortages in about 16% of American hospitals as of October 1, 2021. 

With these staffing shortages, some hospitals have had to stop accepting patients and close down departments — for example, the five psychiatric hospitals that had to begin refusing patients in Virginia and the Rhode Island Hospital that was forced to close down part of its emergency department due to lack of nurses.

Why Is the Nursing Shortage Happening?

One crucial factor of this nursing shortage is a continually aging population. The percentage of the 65-and-older American population is expected to increase from 16% to 23% and is expected to double by 2060. With this continued increase in the aging population, more nurses are needed. 

The increased retirement numbers are greatly affecting the healthcare industry, as the average age of nurses is 51 years old. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old by 2030 and, therefore, many current nurses will retire over the next few years.

Due to inadequate staffing, funds, clinical sites, and teaching facilities, many nursing schools are forced to decline prospective students. This has led to a decrease in graduated nurses joining the workforce. Many of the nurses that are graduating from a program are more likely to work as managers or be enrolled in formal education programs than they are to work in hospitals. While these challenges are not within the control of healthcare recruiters, speeding up your organization’s screening process and time-to-hire can help you combat this nursing shortage.

How Can Recruiters Address Nursing Shortages?

To address the shortage of nurses in the U.S., healthcare organizations should start by examining their hiring practices. Take a look at improving your intake meetings to optimize your hiring cycle. Speeding up the hiring process will also help you identify and hire candidates faster. Talented candidates are only available for an average of 10 days when they are job hunting. The faster you can identify a qualified candidate, the faster you can hire top talent. 

You can also expand your talent pool by connecting with potential nurses right before they even graduate. 

Healthcare recruiters can also consider not only what attracts but also key steps to retain nurses. About 60% of employees value benefits more than they value higher pay. Employers that offer a healthy work-life balance, wellness benefits, and open the opportunity for promotions are more likely to attract and retain top employees. Retaining employees will prevent a large number of open positions, and attracting talent will make it easy to fill any open positions.

How Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Combatted the Nursing Shortage with On-Demand Phone Interviews

Using Qualifi, Saint Alphonsus revamped their interview process, allowing them to make offers to senior nursing students throughout the semester, and onboard them before their graduation. Qualifi helped Saint Alphonsus to accelerate and streamline its hiring process while still decreasing the amount of time recruiters spend on interviews.

By implementing Qualifi, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center “revamped [our] entire graduate nurse hiring process,” remarks Saint Alphonsus recruiter, Tara. The medical center was used to a long application process with deadlines, which they referred to as “Tetris” where recruiters spent 2.5 hours every day on phone interviews. Saint Alphonsus recruiters now only need minutes to send phone interviews in Qualifi's platform. As a result, they are saving 7+ days in the hiring process with candidates responding to phone interviews within 24 hours.

At Qualifi, we’re here to help you navigate the nursing shortage and remove the repetitive nature of traditional phone screens. We offer a variety of solutions to improve your recruitment ROI, decrease your time-to-hire, and mitigate bias during the hiring process. For more information on recruiting during the nursing shortage, contact us today.

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