Hospitals rethink nursing recruitment, retainment efforts post-pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Nurses have been in high demand for years, but the pandemic shed new light on the strain on the system.

“COVID definitely exposed a lot of those problems that our nationwide health care system has when it comes to the nursing shortage, so I think coming out of COVID we’ve really been able to be innovative on how can we change the systems that we have in place?” said Paula Sanders, MSN, RN, Stormont Vail’s director of magnet and clinical excellence.

Sanders said Stormont implemented several programs to improve how they recruit – and keep – nurses. They launched a new workplace violence prevention program, improved their affordable child care offerings, and started several support efforts, including a nurse residency program, which teams new nurses with mentors.

“Some things sound really good in a book and then whenever you get to see the patient in front of you, it might not be the same thing you thought it was going to be so you really want somebody there to support you and help you through that transition,” she said.

Stormont also established new partnerships with high school students, exposing them to health care careers earlier.

“To be honest, I think COVID scared people away from wanting to be a nurse or wanting to be in those areas, so we’ve really had to thing about how can we influence people to care for their community – and people still want to care for their community,” Sanders said.

But Sanders says the pandemic showed nurses need a caring environment, too, in which to work. Stormont will open the doors to show prospective nurses what it could be like with an upcoming ‘End of Summer Bash.’

“They can go to the units. We’ll have unit tours where they can see what the practice environment looks like, and then they can talk one on one with somebody from the benefits team and really learn what are the things we can do do support you in your profession,” she said.

Sanders says that applies to those in their first job – and veterans.

“We need both types of nurses,” she said. “We need those people who can take people underneath their wing, we need the experts in the field, and then we also need new nurses that are freshly graduating from nursing school. They bring a whole different perspective.”

The End of Summer Bash is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8 at Stormont’s Pozez Education Center, 1505 SW 8th Ave. Enjoy tours and free food, as well as meet with department leaders.

Stormont and other health care organizations post job openings on their web sites.

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