Few would argue that there is a significant shortage in the nursing workforce, and the severity will only worsen. According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, there were 126,000 unfilled nursing positions in 2014. By 2020, the shortage will reach roughly 400,000 positions. Nurses entering the workforce have a position of leverage allowing them to negotiate for higher wages, more benefits, and more lucrative job prospects. Negotiating, however, may not be as large of a concern as it has been in previous years with hospitals now offering large incentives to recruit staff.
Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Florida offers to pay two years of nursing education in exchange for a two-year commitment. Mercy Hospital in Miami, Florida offers even more. Retention bonuses, student loan forgiveness programs, commuter benefits, and mortgage payments are just to name a few. They also offer a “backup care” program that aids employees in finding alternative care for either a sick child or aging parent, 24-hours a day. Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama gives flat-screen TVs to new hires. They also implement a web-based “bid-shift” program where nurses can earn points for each extra shift they work. These points can go towards everything from washing their cars, to ordering flowers and picking up dry-cleaning.
Millennial nurses, in particular, are a unique population to recruit for. Millennials will require more structured entry programs, including post-graduate residencies, on-the-job mentoring and guidance, and frequent feedback and learning opportunities. Characteristics of Millennials that may differ from other generations include:
- Growing up with technology
- Structured and supervised childhoods with very little unscheduled time
- Unusual respect for authority and acceptance of order
- Belief in bargaining power
Ultimately healthcare organizations will need to become more innovative in their recruitment strategies of nurses. What used to be the recruiting function will now have to evolve into the talent acquisition function. Retention will also become a major player in providing care for patients. Education and experience are no longer enough to qualify a candidate, but the candidate also needs to display empathy and a strong sense of responsibility or motivation.