When Princeton HealthCare System was having trouble finding qualified registered nurses for its behavioral health and home healthcare operations, staffing firm Cielo devised an online recruitment fair. The virtual event attracted many candidates from across the country, and the Plainsboro, N.J.-based one-hospital system was able to fill the positions with strong hires.
Marcia Telthorster, Princeton's vice president of human resources, said the online fair was something she wouldn't have known how to do on her own. “People would look at the newspaper in the old days,” she said. “That's not how it's done today.”
Experienced RNs are in high demand and have many more types of job opportunities than they used to. Outpatient care, travel nursing, care management and health information technology have given nurses alternatives to the physically grueling hospital environment. It's particularly hard to find replacements for retiring nurses in operating rooms, intensive-care units and emergency departments, jobs that require advanced skills and critical thinking, said Rhonda Anderson, CEO of Cardon Children's Medical Center, Mesa, Ariz., and an editorial board member of the journal Nursing Economics.
To gain an edge in hiring, some health systems now use recruitment process outsourcing firms, or RPOs, such as Cielo, rather than their own human resources departments. RPOs generally are contracted to handle the full range of hiring duties for non-executive positions, including initial outreach, interviewing, reference checks, and new employee orientation.
Hospital HR executives say they don't have the time or resources to build and maintain relationships with nursing candidates across the country and around the world, and that RPOs are able to spend more time and deploy more sophisticated technology on recruiting than they could.
“You can lose someone from the first interview to the offer because there's always someone else in their ear,” said Janet Elkin, CEO of Supplemental Health Care, a Park City, Utah-based RPO and staffing firm. “That's where we come in, to make sure that we keep (the candidates) warm and that they actually end up at the (client) hospital.”