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Nurse recruitment: six considerations for healthcare marketers

How to effectively attract nursing talent to your organization

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend on the sidelines at my daughter’s soccer game. She’s a nurse with a local health system, and was sharing how exhausted she was from covering the shortage of nurses her hospital was currently experiencing. While she appreciates the opportunity to pick up some extra shifts (and cash), the constant need was forcing her to think about her long-term employment plans. My friend is not alone.

There’s currently a nursing shortage, and the numbers aren’t looking promising for the road ahead. To underscore, by 2022, 1.05 million MORE nurses will be needed across the U.S. This is due to an increased need for care for the aging boomer population, as well as the more than 500K nurses on track to retire within that same timeframe. So this begs an incredibly important question – what can we do as healthcare marketers to use our brand and campaign platforms to attract good nurses?

The following are six points marketing professionals and the C-suite should consider when it comes to nurse recruitment:

1. Define, communicate and promote your “why”:

Many nurses enter the profession because of its profound sense of purpose. Couple that with the fact that 84 percent of millennials say that making a difference is more important than professional recognition, and you have compelling reasons to not only uncover, but clearly define and communicate your organization’s purpose. It can be the reason a potential employee may choose – or overlook – your opportunity. At Core, we refer to this as knowing your “why,” and have a defined process for discovering, defining and bringing it to life with both internal and external audiences. This provides a necessary foundation for communicating and engaging the right people who will fit with who you are.

2. Tell a story:

Referrals continue to serve as the number one reason for nurses to join an organization. Oftentimes, candidates are looking for workplace satisfaction over compensation, recognizing he or she wishes to work for a system or hospital that has a commitment to both its patients and its employees. Therefore, by sharing real stories – shedding light on the impact real employees have on patients and the organization’s mission – you can offer a direct window into what it’s like to work for you. As human beings, we’re more likely to connect with a story in a meaningful, emotional and actionable way. But don’t forget to share employment features and benefits in context of the story so you can attract, nurture and secure the right person for the right role.

3. Be social:

According to a study by Mediakix, the average person spends approximately 35 minutes on Facebook per day. Healthcare professionals are no different. Social (both paid advertising through social and having a robust owned social program) offers an incredible opportunity to connect with potential recruits. Not only does it provide a highly targeted environment that won’t bust your media budget, it will allow you to tell your story and build and nurture relationships online. Better yet, you can gather valuable data and information around behaviors and preferences, allowing you to fine-tune how, when and what you are communicating.

4. Go offline:

Not to contradict the previous point (rather to add to the mix), there is still compelling data that tells us nurses are reading printed publications – especially if they are geared toward professional learning and development. As nurses look to expert-authored publications for information around new technologies, new approaches to patient care, and other professional trends and advancements, employers can make sure the brand is there to garner attention and leads. Just be sure to drive these candidates to a specific digital destination so you can continue to engage (and track engagement), pulling them further into the recruitment lead funnel.

5. Be present:

As do most medical professionals, nurses are required to continue their education. They can fulfill this expectation through attending seminars and conferences to obtain CEU credits. So meet them where they are – advertise and or sponsor events in which you know nurses or nursing students are a captive audience. Better yet, look for ways you can be a speaker, presenter or lead sponsor. Talk about your audience’s lives, their professional and motivational drivers, and your organization’s mission. Create a conversation that can draw in multiple candidates.

6. Focus on retention:

One of the greatest challenges facing nurses today is dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity, vision and recognition coming from leadership. And RN turnover can cost a hospital anywhere from $5.2M – $8.1M a year! So while recruitment is incredibly important, retaining good nurses is also a critical priority. Our recommendation is for HR, leadership and marketing to work together to provide ongoing recognition, competitive salaries (and bonuses), excellent benefits, a solid onboarding program and continual opportunities for career development and advancement.

While there is no silver bullet for recruitment, these thought-starters can offer a solid foundation from which to build. As always, put your audience first and build your program from his or her perspective, providing information and benefits that are not only relevant but also emotive and moving. Be human, be connected and track your efforts.

Have you seen success with nurse recruitment? We’d love to hear more. Please comment!


Beth Crivello-Wagner is the Vice President of Brand Services at at Core Health, Core Creative’s specialized healthcare marketing practice.


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