Nurse recruitment and staffing – both its challenges and successes – have been in the news a lot recently, and with good reason. Our nurses are one of our biggest strengths and are at the core of the care we provide as an organization. As the leader for nurse recruitment at the UVM Medical Center, I wanted to share our story of how we recruit for nurses and how we compare to our peers across the country, and why I’m motivated to do this work. 

Given the nationwide nursing shortage, projected by the Department of Labor to continue to grow in the coming years, we take a creative, strategic and far-reaching approach to our efforts.  We recruit heavily through social and digital mediums, including Facebook, Google and Indeed, allowing us to reach broad audiences, while still focusing on our local and regional markets. For niche positions and positions in our specialty areas, we focus on industry outlets such as job boards and banner advertising, as well as local and regional media sites. 

Our efforts are paying off. Our volume of applications from advertising increased from 63 to 126 from within the last two quarters. We receive nearly 5 applications for each of our nursing position postings, resulting in a time to fill of just under 52 days for our inpatient postings versus a national benchmark of 61 days. Since October of 2016, we have hired 447 nurses. 60% of those hired were from Vermont and 80% were from the northeast.  We have received 320 applications for our Nurse Residency Program, which enables to us to hire the best and brightest new graduate nurses and to continue to grow our pipeline of exceptional candidates.  

In addition to our nurse recruitment efforts, we have made strong strides in supporting our staff while they accommodate an increase in patients with psychiatric illness requiring constant safe care. In 2017 we rolled out the new Clinical Patient Safety Attendant role, designed to support our patients requiring one-to-one observation.  We provide specialized training for these individuals to care for this specific patient population, which allows us to ensure more Licensed Nurse Assistants are available to support nurses. Since the first of the year, we have filled 37 of these roles and continue recruitment

Despite our best efforts, our Ambulatory vacancy rates continue to be higher than we’d like, which is why we have proposed significantly increasing the base wage for Ambulatory Nurses, bringing them to the level of our Inpatient Nurses. We believe this change, in addition to our continued focus on creative recruitment strategies, will positively impact our efforts. And, while we are not unique in this challenge, we continue to struggle to fill some of our specialty nursing areas. 

Nurse Recruitment is a challenging field but I am confident in the work our team has done, and continues to do, to fill the needs of our organization, and, most importantly, our patients.

Megan Brunovsky is the lead recruiter for nurses and physicians at the University of Vermont Medical Center. 

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