If you consider nursing recruitment as a marketing exercise, the first things you notice are:
If you look at the stats, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the number of nursing positions in the market is expected to increase by 23% in the next decade. That’s about double the average national figure.
The need for more basic support for nurse recruiting has been recognized. The new Healthcare Reform Bill passed through the House last week included several support measures for nursing, notably an extra $638 million over five years for Title VIII programs.
Let’s not count that particular chicken until it starts laying a few eggs of its own, but the fundamental issue remains: Where does the next generation of nurses come from?
The current situation is a pretty good indicator of what not to do. Importing foreign nurses has been a “fix”, not a cure. At best this will cover local needs, but not industry needs. The increased workloads created by the shortages have effectively devalued nursing positions, reduced job satisfaction, and undermined employee retention.
Nursing recruitment has been sandwiched into “healthcare,” not as a distinct image within its natural employment market. That’s done very little to encourage recruitment. Try searching for nursing career fairs on the Internet, and you’ll probably have a frustrating time. The most common result will likely just be a nursing booth.
In all other professions headhunting, actively looking for talented professionals, is long established. Nursing, which can involve multiple degrees and NASA-like levels of certifications, isn’t exactly famous for this form of recruitment which is desperately needed.
Apparently aspiring nurses are supposed to motivate themselves, put themselves through college, get their licenses, and then wade through an apathetic, outdated recruitment process. They’re also supposed to do this with a stereotypical market image of a nurse that consists of someone wearing a uniform, and use their powers of mental associations to fill in the blanks.
If you tried to sell that as a recruitment marketing policy in IT, finance, or other professions, you’d get scorned for vague babbling, and rightly so. The nursing profession needs motivated people, but how motivated can you get with an image like that to work with.
Nurses have a lot of respect in the community, a very positive image. It’s the primary selling point for a nursing career. That’s no thanks to any employment market initiatives, though, but rather through generations of nurses serving society.
Only motivated people can become nurses. Either the employment market wakes up to that fact, or the current lottery approach will continue to infest the profession.