Recruiting and Retaining Top Nursing Candidates

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Hospital administrators and nurse leaders are employing innovative methods to boost nurse recruitment and retention.

With the demand for skilled registered nurses (RNs) reaching a fever pitch, hospital administrators and nurse leaders are continually seeking innovative ways to bolster nurse recruitment and retention. Spearheading the campaign to encourage new talent are RNs with Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. DNP graduates are clinical experts in nursing practice, health systems management, strategic planning, and healthcare leadership.

DNP-educated nurses use evidence-based strategies, collaborative teamwork, and workforce planning for recruiting nurses to fill jobs that are being left unfilled due to an increase in nurse retirements and a lack of replacements. The resulting staff shortages are increasing nurse stress levels and affecting job satisfaction. Experts say patients suffer the most because the staffing deficits affect access to healthcare.

Some medical facilities are devising creative and lucrative methods to encourage nurse recruitment and retention, like tuition reimbursement for employees and their children and five-figure signing bonuses. At the same time, DNP-educated leaders, many who have graduated from online DNP programs, are also seeking alternative approaches. Among the definitions of nursing, management is to create sustainable workforce-development procedures.

The following suggestions are as a starting point for DNP-educated leaders for recruiting nurses:

American Nurses Association (ANA)

Suggestions: The ANA said registered nursing is a knowledge-based practice with a psychomotor skills component. As such, nurses require these qualities from their workplace:

  • Sufficient orientation, preparation, and continuing education
  • Timely access to accurate and relevant information provided by technology that links interprofessional teams to aid in the planning and implementation of care
  • Support in ethical decision-making
  • A culture that values respect, trust, teamwork, and collaboration
  • Sufficient time for patient documentation
  • Timely support services (transportation, clerical, housekeeping and laboratory) to minimize patient turnaround time


Suggestions: In a survey of healthcare workers, Glassdoor found 66 percent of employees would accept less money to work at a healthcare organization that had a great culture. At the same time, 55 percent would take a lower salary if an employer valued helping people above everything else. To hire and keep the best employees, Glassdoor, a job-search platform that allows anonymous company reviews, made these recommendations:

  • Remain in tune with the staff to learn more about why employees are leaving or staying
  • Offer
  • Put people ahead of profits
  • Provide competitive salaries
  • Be honest about the position and the company, both pros and cons

Through its survey, Glassdoor also found the following information pertinent to recruitment and retention:

  • 64 percent of healthcare professionals planned to seek new employment in the coming year
  • 70 percent said they valued straightforward information from recruiters regarding the pros and cons of working for the employer
  • 62 percent said they would leave their current employer for a company that offered career mobility
  • 42 percent would leave their jobs because of poor relationships with management
  • 75 percent would leave for a better salary


Suggestions: The employment website Monster said the push for recruiting nurses is a result of the aging population, the mass exodus of retiring nurses and a nurse educator shortage. Monster said nurse recruiters must bridge the gap between supply and demand in these ways:

  • Acknowledge the ongoing talent war and treat the job candidates as commodities
  • Sell job candidates on the quality of the company (or hospital)
  • Use creative pitches when seeking RNs for positions in non-hospital settings and community care
  • Have strong mentoring and preceptor programs to ease the transition for new nursing school graduates
  • Highlight the company’s (or hospital’s) career-advancement resources
  • Enhance company culture by instituting a zero-tolerance policy for hazing

National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC)

Suggestions: Home healthcare experts said recruiters must focus on best practices in staff recruitment and retention and understanding employment trends in the industry. The experts recommend recruiters perform strategic planning analyses of the hiring organization before bringing in job candidates. The analysis should review the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the business model, also called a SWOT analysis. Nurse leaders in charge of hiring should consider these issues for the recruiting analysis:

  • Pay, benefits, and training
  • Organization reputation
  • Benefits
  • Advancement opportunities and forecasted growth

Other recruitment recommendations from the NAHC-affiliated experts include:

  • Be truthful about the major job frustrations
  • Assign mentors to newly graduated nurses
  • Schedule feedback sessions for newly hired nurses
  • Continue an organizational environment that encourages a positive culture
  • Encourage retention strategies for managers, because they are key to retaining staff nurses

Inventive Nurse Recruiting Incentives

For decades, healthcare organizations have been using nurse recruitment and retention rewards and incentives of all kinds, including referral bonuses and performance perks. Today, healthcare organizations are sweetening the pot by adding never-before-seen incentives. Some of the more creative programs include:

  • University of Missouri Health Care staff members who successfully recruit quality healthcare professionals are entered into a raffle to win an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii.
  • Inova Health Systems, located outside Washington, D.C., provides a $20,000 signing bonus and $20,000 in relocation costs to candidates who have at least two years of critical care nursing experience and live within 50 miles of the company’s hospitals. Other hospitals nationwide are offering bonuses of $5,000 to $10,000 with a two- to three-year commitment.
  • WVU Medicine in West Virginia, which operates eight hospitals, provides free housing to nurses who meet the qualifications. The program is intended for nurses who live 60 to 90 minutes from the hospital.
  • UCHealth, which has hospitals and clinics in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, provides nurses with up to $4,000 annually for continuing education. The healthcare system also offers a $10,000 signing bonus and relocation allowances.

DNP-educated nurse leaders who are seeking the best nursing candidates should also consider tuition reimbursement, loan forgiveness, and performance-based pay as retention incentives. RNs who are seeking advanced degrees of all kinds, including through online DNP programs, have ample opportunities to recruit the best nurses and to be recruited themselves.

About Duquesne University’s Online DNP Program

Duquesne University’s online DNP program prepares graduates to take on leadership roles in hospitals and other medical facilities, including recruiting nurses.

Through the program, RNs take coursework in healthcare policy, finance and ethics to be prepared for administrative positions. The curriculum focuses on problem solving and innovation, combining scholarly experience with evidence-based practices for a well-rounded education.

Duquesne University, a leader in nursing education, offers three DNP tracks:

  • Clinical Leadership DNP
  • Post-Bachelor’s Executive Nurse Leadership DNP
  • Post-Master’s Executive Nurse Leadership DNP

Additional Reading

Leadership Styles in Nursing and Their Impact on Patient Outcomes
Doctor Nurse Practitioners Influencing Health Care Policy


CNN, Hospitals offer big bonuses, free housing, and tuition to recruit nurses
Glassdoor, Recruiting Healthcare Workers: Why Your Values Count
Nursing World, Principles of Staffing & Workforce Management: The Future of Nursing as Holistic Providers and Advocates of Care
Monster, How to Recruit Nurses in 2016: Eight Strategies to Fill the Pipeline
National Association for Home Care & Hospice, Recruiting & Retention
Becker’s Hospital Review, How 5 health systems are recruiting, retaining nurses during an RN shortage
Advisory Board, “To recruit nurses, some hospitals dangle a Hawaiian vacation—but there are easier tactics, too”