Finding and keeping good employees-from staff nurses to system executives-is an increasingly daunting proposition for healthcare facilities.
A growing shortage of nurses has hospitals from Burbank, Calif., to Boston scrambling to keep their beds staffed. The difficulty of recruiting clinicians is coupled with the fact that healthcare organizations compete with other industries for information technology and other specialized professionals, many of whom command sizable salaries.
One life raft might come from the Internet, which is emerging as one way to broaden reach without raising costs. Some human resources and recruiting managers are in fact proving that the Web can help locate and attract qualified applicants at a lower cost. But because hospitals rarely allocate resources to tracking where applicants come from, statistical evidence is hard to come by.
Traditional recruiters, meanwhile, see a value in the Internet but believe its role in job placement is limited and probably always will be.
"Internet recruiting has changed the dynamic and moved it in a new direction, but it hasn't solved the problems it was supposed to solve," says Joe Scully, president of the Chicago office of Dallas-based HealthCare Recruiters International. "You still have 400 resumes on your desk, 350 of whom are unqualified."
Even so, say advocates of Internet-aided recruiting, each advertisement yields more responses from a broader geographic area than traditional methods, including newspapers.
"The candidate response from the Internet ads is significantly higher than response from newspaper ads," says Karen Teeley, director of Internet recruiting at Bayada Nurses, a Morristown, N.J.-based company that provides home-care nurses and nurse aides. With the Web, she adds, "the cost per hire is lower."
In the last quarter of 2000, Bayada received 329 responses from Internet ads; of those, 238 were qualified applicants, Teeley says. At any given time Bayada has about 200 positions posted on the Web.
Unlike classified ad sections, the Internet isn't limited to a given market or region. Recruiters can essentially canvass the entire nation for candidates. But posting an ad on the Web doesn't guarantee that anyone will see it. That's why a growing number of companies are building Internet-based job boards that focus entirely on healthcare.
One of those companies, Atlanta-based MiracleWorkers.com, has more than 30,000 healthcare-specific jobs posted on its Web site. MiracleWorkers.com serves about 1,000 hospital clients, says David Markert, the firm's vice president of marketing.
Among those clients are Bayada Nurses and Minor & James, a Seattle-based multispecialty clinic with 70 doctors on staff. Minor & James, which has a 33% turnover rate among clinical staff, hired 152 people last year. Twenty-six of them were found via the MiracleWorkers.com job bazaar.
"To get the most for your dollars, you want to do Internet advertising, because you get the most exposure," says Jo Ann Wray, Minor & James' human resources director. MiracleWorkers.com, she says, "is preferable because of its healthcare focus."
The average time to hire using traditional methods such as the newspaper is 90 days, according to a study conducted by Kennedy Information, a Boston-based professional services research firm. By contrast, the study found that Internet hires take about 30 days. Another study by iLogos, a recruiting research firm in San Francisco, estimates that the average cost per hire using newspapers is $5,000, compared with just $1,000 using the Web.
Hospitals that contract with MiracleWorkers.com can pay by the job or sign yearlong contracts under which bulk rates can be negotiated.
Last August, MiracleWorkers.com was acquired by Atlanta-based Headhunter.net, a Web-based recruiting company that posts jobs in several industry categories.
"It has been outstanding since they affiliated with Headhunter," Wray says. "It's amazing how people find us on the Internet." According to Wray and others, the popularity of the site has drawn people from all over the country and even snagged another audience-the gainfully employed.
"We try to capture their attention, whether or not they're looking for a job," Teeley says.
Despite anecdotal triumphs, the Internet may still have limitations when it comes to recruiting. Some jobs are well-suited for Web-based advertising, but many clinical and executive level positions still require a vetting process the Internet can't facilitate, says Scully of HealthCare Recruiters International.
"The Internet tends to work in different ways at different levels," Scully says. "In some areas, it's quite effective. In other areas, it's not effective at all."
Among other healthcare job hubs is Salt Lake City-based Medimorphus.com. Officials of the 6-month-old company say it is too early for customer testimonials.