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Recruiting Nurses: Mayberry vs Manhattan

Sometimes, the numbers say it all.

In this case, the numbers come from our friends at Jarrard Inc – part of their new survey on healthcare staffing – along with The Chartis Group, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, and a recent HCA earnings call. They all quantify what we’ve been hearing for months: Everyone in the industry knows that staffing is difficult and expensive right now, but that 96% figure from Chartis still has the power to shock.

(By the way, if you’re among the 4% of rural hospitals not experiencing a nursing shortage, we’d love to talk to you for a future blog post. Seriously, what’s your story?)

Under the headline, “Recruiting Starts with Retention,” the Jarrard team offers a deep dive into some of the strategies and tactics that can help rural providers navigate these challenging times. Unsurprisingly, tuition reimbursement and optimized float pool compensation might be off the table – much less buying a nursing school, like HCA did – but there are at least three areas where rural hospitals can compete effectively:

  • Professional development. The Great Resignation has removed any lingering doubt that people hate to feel “stuck” in their job. For rural healthcare providers, the trick is to show existing employees and new recruits that there’s room to grow in their job or grow into another one.

  • Nurse-manager relationships. The market is telling nurses how valuable they are, but sometimes they get a different message from managers who seem to undervalue their skills and contributions. Managers can show respect and appreciation by showing up for nurses, listening to their needs, and sharing personal struggles in a genuine and transparent way.

  • Leadership development. It’s great when leaders roll up their sleeves and work on the front lines, but experts say it can be counterproductive as a long-term strategy. Staff need leaders who are trained to listen, empathize, and solve problems. At the end of the day, those are the leaders who can implement the structural changes that create a better working environment for everyone.

Rural providers will always find it hard to compete with big, deep-pocketed systems, but there’s one area where they might hold actually hold the upper hand among some potential employees: lifestyle and cost of living. Remote work has freed many professionals from their urban offices, and that has some couples longing for a different kind of life.

Before the pandemic, there was little hope of recruiting urban nurses to a rural environment, but the nature of work has changed, and Mayberry could now be a viable alternative to Manhattan for nurses seeking a lifestyle change.

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