8 tips for how to hire nurses

Posted September 22, 2018 by

Nurses. Year-after-year, we hear from hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other organizations how frustrated they are in trying to hire nurses, whether they are entry-level, recent graduates or have years of experience.

Before I dig into some suggestions for how any organization can hire more nurses, let’s first examine whether the underlying premise of a shortage is even true. Well, it’s true. “Currently there are nearly three million jobs for registered nurses, and there are more than 2.9 million licensed RNs, which doesn’t seem like a significant shortage,” said Joe Dunmire, executive director of Qualivis. “But 21 percent of licensed RNs are not engaged in patient care, which makes the actual deficit nearly 700,000.” To make that worse, Qualivis expects that there will be more than a million RN vacancies by 2024, which is more than twice the deficit of the last major nursing shortage.

Okay, enough doom-and-gloom. Actually, there’s more. To make the current and growing shortage more challenging for employers of LPNs, RNs, and other nurses, the profession “is second only to the hospitality industry in turnover,” Dunmire said.

Roughly one in five nurses leave the job after one year. And the average cost of losing a nurse is nearly $50,000! @Qualivis Click To Tweet

Fortunately, there are some answers.

Hire more nursing students and recent graduates 

Rather than focusing primarily or even exclusively on hiring experienced nurses and perhaps taking months to do so. Hire nursing students and recent graduates, train them, and within weeks you’ll have the bright, energetic nursing staff that you need without the bad habits picked up in other workplaces.

Build a talent pipeline by offering nursing internships.

Some employers think of internship programs only as an opportunity to provide practical experience to students and maybe a short-term, inexpensive labor fix. Neither are the whole story.

A successful internship program is all about recruitment. If the intern does not convert to a permanent, full-time employee, then both the intern and the employer should consider the internship to be a failure. So, wise employers offering nursing internships do so because they understand that an internship is essentially a temp-to-perm relationship.

The employer and intern get to try each other out. If they like each other, then the employer almost certainly will offer to convert the intern into a full-time, permanent employee upon graduation and the intern almost certainly will accept. Win-win.

Improve your onboarding process.

This will help new employees acclimate quickly and improve your retention. Better retention means reduced turnover which means you’ll reduce the number of nurses you’ll need to hire.

Make strategic use of travel nurses.

Some employers think of travel nurses only in times of crisis such as during a strike or when they’re severely short-staffed. But both of those are symptoms of unhappy employees. Rather than being reactive after your staff becomes unhappy and then strikes or quits, why not get proactive and bring in travel nurses as needed to provide your existing, permanent staff better work-life balance and flexible schedules?

Start or improve upon your employee referral program.

People know other people like themselves. CEO’s know other CEO’s. Recruiters know other recruiters. And nurses know other nurses. Pay your nurses bonuses when they refer their family and friends and you hire them.

Eliminate one of the primary reasons that employees leave.

Lack of opportunity to advance their careers within the organization. How? Develop opportunities for job-sharing, training, and career paths throughout the workplace and health system.

Eliminate another reason why people leave their jobs.

Unhappiness. Invest in initiatives to improve the quality of the workplace, such as wellness programs and employee engagement in decision-making.

Recruit international nurses for long-term assignments.

Joe Dunmire of Qualivis“There are a few basic facts that we can all agree on,” Dunmire said. “One, nursing continues to be one of the most in-demand professions today. Two, nursing continues to be the most trusted profession in America. And, three, there is a wealth of research showing a direct correlation between quality nurses and positive patient outcomes. For all of these reasons, we need to ensure that there is always an adequate supply of quality nurses.”

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Posted in Advice for Employers, Economic Indicators, International, Internships, Millennials, Onboarding, Recruitment Strategies, Retention Strategies, Training and development, Workforce planning | Tagged