For many doctors, the Cleveland Clinic is one of those few names that is almost defined as good health care. Outside, of Cleveland, however, a lot of nurses have never heard of the hospital that U.S. News ranked one of the nation’s top four last year.
For Lois Bock, a Cleveland Clinic director of nurse recruitment, this means not only does she have to convince people to move to Cleveland, but she has to sell candidates on a premier health care organization they’ve never even heard of.??
“If any hospital tells you there’s no shortage of nurses, they’re lying,” says Bock. “It is absolutely everywhere. The Cleveland Clinic does not have the national name recognition that Hopkins or Mayo or some of the big institutions have. There’s a campaign going on right now to try to improve our name recognition. Amongst doctors we’re very well known, but if you ask a lot of nursing personnel, they’ve never heard of the Cleveland Clinic.”
One of the more unique approaches taken by the 85-year-old non-for-profit is its weekend-visit program.
It’s a more expansive initiative than what companies are accustomed to doing, in which they bring a finalist candidate in for a night or two. The third week of every month, the Clinic boards, wines, and dines nurses and senior nursing students who live 75 miles a way.
Other strategies for addressing staffing challenges include providing tuition assistance. For every $5,000 the Clinic loans a student nurse, it must commit to a year’s employment at the company. The ceiling is $20,000 and a four-year commitment.
Recruiters are speaking to students in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. They’re holding summer camps for nursing students.
“Short of dancing out on the street,” Bock says, “we’re doing just about everything.”
The Clinic has been tapping into the National Student Nurses’ Association. It also held “two huge open houses,” Bock says, for people to tour the hospital. It has been giving presentations to local nursing programs to discuss subjects such as what to look for in an employer, as well as resume and interviewing tips.
When possible, Bock and colleagues try to appeal to male candidates by taking male nurses with them to job fairs and other events. They’re also advertising in a new publication for male nurses. Bock says that because male nurses often want to work in operating rooms and intensive-care units (and it has about 70 of the former and about 13 of the latter), the Clinic has done better than some competitors in bringing male nurses to the organization.
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Clevelandclinic.org gets plenty of traffic, but Bock says she sees the Internet as “more of a destination” — it’s where candidates are told to go, but not a ton of money is spent on online advertising. “We’ve had varying degrees of success posting on other websites,” she says. “We tried Monster and didn’t have a whole lot of success.”?
As those who follow the nursing shortage know, the newest obstacle to solving the problem is the lack of faculty. Bock says her organization is partnering with colleges so that her faculty can help out. It’s also providing space for labs. It’s partnering with two-year colleges to providing training on site, and the “response has been phenomenal.”
This isn’t the workplace for everyone, Bock says, a point she says the Clinic’s recruiters aren’t afraid to bring up to candidates. “If you like a community hospital, don’t look at us,” she says. Indeed: its main campus alone includes 37 buildings.
“It’s huge,” Bock says. “The type of people who do like it, they’re more your Type A, very career-driven. They like a fast, hectic pace. They like a lot of change. The clinic is always trying new technology, new protocols. They [successful employees] really thrive on a chaotic pace. The Clinic is part of a fairly large system. If they’re not interested in the type of hospital we are, it doesn’t make sense to market the Cleveland Clinic to them.”
Even when candidates realize that this is the Mayo of Ohio, they have to be sold on Ohio. “Cleveland, Ohio, isn’t a huge draw for someone who lives in the South or the West,” Bock says. “Cleveland is a depressed area right now. Primarily, we stick?to [recruiting in] our region. We don’t have the ocean. We don’t have the temperature. “
What it does have, its recruiters tout. This, she says, includes a lower cost of housing in Northeastern Ohio, the amenities of a very large metropolitan area (the “second safest and culturally most fascinating city in the U.S.”) as well as a good work environment. About 1 1/2 years ago, the chief nursing officer created a “parent shift,” the first in area hospitals. People who left to raise kids can come back and dip their feet in slowly, working from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. while the kids are in school. This “extremely popular” program has attracted about 200 nurses. Bock says. “It allows them to get their feet wet in a non-scary way. We’re not giving them a full patient assignment. They’re coming in as helping hands.”
“We’re doing everything we can to increase the pipeline,” Bock says. “If we don’t, none of us are going to have anyone to take care of us.”?