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Top Techniques for Recruiting Nurses and Therapists

By Stephen Tweed

Before the economy crashed in the fourth quarter of 2008, one of the biggest challenges facing CEOs of home health agencies and hospices who wanted to grow their business was the shortage of nurses and therapists.  We were seeing dozens of agencies who were in a position to grow, but didn’t have the clinicians to meet the need.

Then the market tumbled, the economy sagged, unemployment sky rocketed, and very quickly health care professionals stayed put in their current jobs.  As turnover shrank, home health agencies no longer faced the extreme pressure of the nursing shortage.  Many agencies were still needing to hire more PTs, OTs, and STs.

While the staff shortage has not returned to the level that is had been in 2008, we project that you will see turnover increase in home health care and hospice as the economy recovers.  One survey we saw suggested that a significant number of employees are currently dissatisfied with their current job, and will change jobs as soon as the economy recovers enough to give them some level of confidence.

What does that mean for home health and hospice?  It means we need to be prepared for the potential of higher turnover, and put in place process for recruiting, selection, and retention of critical staff members including nurses and therapists.  We’ll address retention and selection in future posts, but in this article I want to talk with you about your strategies for recruiting clinicians.

Back in 2006, Leading Home Care conducted an industry wide survey of owners, CEOs, and administrators of home health and hospice organizations to identify the recruiting methods they were using, and the methods they found most effective in finding high quality applicants.

At that time, the Top Ten Techniques were:

  1. Employee Referral Program
  2. Networking in your community
  3. Your agency’s web site
  4. Daily and weekly newspapers
  5. Telephone recruiting
  6. Continuing Education courses
  7. Your company’s electronic newsletter
  8. Direct Mail Post Cards (to state RN Licensure list)
  9. Your company’s paper newsletter
  10. Advertising in church newspaper

Since then, we have monitored the techniques our clients and seminar participants are using, and we have conducted interviews to keep on top of this subject. While these top ten are still very relevant, we see local and national job web sites going up in importance.  Sites like and seem to be working well for some people.

However, we have also see a number of companies fall into the trap of only using online recruiting sites, and forcing all applicants to go through an electronic application process.   This puts up a big barrier to entry, and eliminates many high quality applicants.

The thing we know about recruiting clinicians is that the very best ones are already happily working for someone else.  They are not reading the job ads in the paper, or searching online job sites.  To find them, you’ll need to use other approached like your employee referral program, networking, and direct mail.

Once you have filled the funnel a regular stream of high quality applicants, the next step is to put in place a selection process to choose only the best candidates.  More on that in a future post.

What are you seeing in your recruiting of clinicians?  What’s working for you?  What’s not working?

We’d love your comments.

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