4 Creative Ways Hospitals are Recruiting & Retaining Nurses

We all have seen firsthand the challenges and struggles that the increasing nursing shortage is causing within hospitals across the nation. But, what can we do to at the hospital-level to recruit and retain more nurses? Here are a few of the more creative & successful solutions we have seen some of our client hospitals implement.


Experienced nurses in demanding specialties such as ER, OR, OB and Critical Care are hard to find. Most of our client hospitals require 2 to 5+ years of experience when hiring into these units. We understand the desire to have an instant (and experienced) solution. However, some of our clients are willing to bring new graduates into these specialty departments and train. They have built a strong culture of mentoring and preceptor. This starts with the leadership in both the nursing departments and human resources. Once established, they have been able to open up opportunities to a new segment of nurses that may have been overlooked while building value and loyalty in their staff. Some of our clients who have implemented this have noticed that the nurses that were brought into these specialty units as new grads a few years ago are now the most anxious to mentor other new grads and are some of their most loyal staff.


Many hospitals offer strict schedules with limited ability to be flexible. Many nurses today, particularly millennials, are looking for opportunities that allows for a better work-life balance. For example, the Cleveland Clinic, here in Ohio, has begun to offer the option of a “mom shift” which begins at 9am and ends at 2pm. Many RN’s prefer

shorter shifts that still give them time with their family. Shorter shifts may also be attractive to recently retired nurses that may re-enter the workforce if the option presented. This added benefit can help to increase recruitment as well as retention. Shorter shift, more flexibility, and a better work-life balance will decrease nurse burnout – a problem affecting 70% of nurses according to a recent survey.


Dissatisfaction and frustration can creep up quietly in any department. And without an open line of communication it can be too late before you know about it. Many of our client hospitals now begin during the interview process (and beyond) to discuss the near and long term goals of their nursing staff. For example, some RN’s may look at nursing as a career in which they want to progress professionally. Others may prefer to stay in bedside nursing while some may want to become a Nurse Practitioner down the road. When you have these conversations early and often, you can tailor your approach to each nurse individually. You can then make sure you are guiding the RN with management aspirations on what she can do to grow and advance in her career while making sure the other more clinically-focused RN’s are happy, satisfied, and still being challenged their current roles as well.  


Throwing out huge sign-on and retention bonuses can work in the short term but typically these gains are short lived and in the long run lead to more turnover and shortages when not used in conjunction with other recruitment and retention strategies. Think about what nurses are truly looking for and offer benefits and incentives that will create lasting loyalty. Some additional ideas we have seen used with success include paying employee’s children’s partial college tuition, offering housing allowances for nurses who live too far away to rent a local apartment, limiting mandatory overtime, involving nurses more in important decisions, and cutting back on paperwork with advancing technology.

About the Author

Roy Munk is President and Founder of GHS Recruiting, a nationally recognized retained and contingency search firm specializing in the recruiting and retention of healthcare professionals. Since 1998, GHS Recruiting has matched thousands of highly qualified job seekers with their new employers.

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