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Recruiting of Nurses Includes Lavish Enticements

Posted Jan 14 2009 7:45pm

Wow, how times have changed! The stiff competition among hospitals and other health care entities to attract a share of the short supply of nurses has resulted in a spate of creative recruiting tactics.

Employers are pulling out all the stops and rolling out the red carpet—- really rolling out the red carpet—-in an effort to persuade nurses to sign on with them. Among the enticements seen at hiring events are free champagne, chair massages, catered gourmet food and chances to win prizes the likes of flat-screen TVs, $1,000 shopping sprees and GPS devices.

The Michigan company that welcomed prospective applicants with a walk on the red carpet also held a trivia contest (hosted by game show pro Chuck Woolery, no less) and awarded prizes that included a year-long lease of a 2009 SUV, restaurant dinners and hotel stays. A hospital in a Milwaukee suburb gave $50 gas cards to experienced nurses just for interviewing—-no signing on the dotted line required.

A reminder of just what a dinosaur I am in this profession is the recollection of my job search in the early seventies (I told you I’m a dinosaur). A job transfer took us to Memphis, Tennessee, the site of the University of Tennessee Medical School. It was in the days before satellite hospitals and all of the several large, progressive hospitals were clustered in the area around the med school. Landing a job in that city would surely be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, I thought. Wrong.

In town on a short house-hunting trip prior to our move, I set aside one day ( oneday?) for the job search. Instead of the plethora of offers to choose from that I’d imagined, my trek from hospital to hospital resulted not in job offers but in several, “Ho-hum, so you’re applying for a job? Fill out this application and leave it on the desk” responses. By the end of the day I did have a job and it was just what I was looking for, but it was the only offer I had. In fact, it was the only interview I had—not one of the other hospitals called. No red carpet, no TV, no recruiters elbowing one another out of the way to woo me into their fold. In contrast to today’s employment climate, the hospital—not the nurse—held the power.

Now the nurses have the upper hand, but I’m left to wonder what happens once the nurses are lured into the web of employment. Will the red carpet be pulled from beneath their feet, will mandatory overtime leave no time to enjoy the TV, will understaffing leave them so fatigued that the GPS goes unused because they are too tired to go anywhere but to bed?

Query to recruiters and hospitals: what are you going to do to make those nurses feel valued after the deal is sealed?

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