Health Break | Published August 21, 2006 | Written by Keith Austin

Recruiting Health Care Professionals Is Competitive

In the competitive field of health care recruiting, and during a time of employee shortages in specific health care careers, it is a common practice for hospitals to have in-house professional recruiters. Health care organizations are competing for a limited number of candidates, hence, the emphasis on an in-house recruitment team. From the first point of contact, whether a telephone conversation or a career fair, the professional recruiter is the "voice" of the organization.

Q: What is a typical geographic region for health care recruiters to cover?
A: My initial target recruiting area included schools within a 500-mile radius of State College, with a focus on colleges and universities providing bachelor and associate degree programs in nursing. But, my region is wherever I need to be to fill the needs of the medical center.
This past year and a half I have been all over the state of Pennsylvania, as well as on recruiting trips to Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

We also have people coming to us from Seattle, Missouri, Texas and California, and we are currently in touch with a couple in Alaska. While nothing will take the place of person-to-person communication, the Internet has really helped broaden recruiting regions.

In addition to attending campus recruitment events like career fairs and job fairs, we visit the office of the program director to introduce our facility and provide contact information as well as a supply of recruitment literature.

I also attend professionally sponsored health career fairs and continuing education events, as well as professional conferences and conventions. I also visit high schools and vo-tech schools to encourage people into health care careers.

Last year we attended over 40 career fair events, and I visited over 70 nursing schools. Each school I visited has an excellent reputation, and each school has produced several outstanding nurses and other health care professionals.

This past year during one six-month period of time, I traveled over 14,000 miles, and I plan on exceeding that this year.

Also, our campus visits are not limited to nursing programs. We include medical schools, pharmacy programs, medical technology and radiography programs, among others.

Q: How competitive is the recruitment of nurses and other health care professionals amongst hospitals and other health care facilities?
A: It can be a very competitive environment with the health care shortage in certain occupations, such as nursing. At each event, professional recruiters see their competition.

Q: What types of incentives do hospitals provide to recruit talented professionals?
A: Hospitals can and do offer a variety of incentives, ranging from sign-on bonuses to loan forgiveness to tuition reimbursement. Mount Nittany Medical Center offers tuition assistance for those wishing to continue their education, and we do have a sign-on bonus for some health professionals.

Many hospitals, including Mount Nittany, offer scholarship programs to pursue programs in nursing, radiology and health information management. In return for the scholarship, recipients have an obligation to work for the facility for a pre-arranged period of time. Sign-on bonuses vary widely from one institution to another. Generally, the amount of the bonus corresponds to the length of commitment to work for the organization.

An added incentive we have at Mount Nittany Medical Center is that we promote Centre County as an area that offers a multitude of family-centered activities, excellent school systems and a safe environment.

Keith Austin is a professional recruiter at Mount Nittany Medical Center.