Kingston campaign aims to recruit 100 nurses in 100 days

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It’s an ambitious goal but Hazel Gilchrist says she’s ready to tackle it. The manager of recruitment and retention at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) says January is the launch of an aggressive recruitment campaign as KGH attempts to address its nursing shortage head on.

The campaign, dubbed “100 Nurses in 100 Days” may appear straightforward but Gilchrist says it will be a challenge as competition to recruit and retain qualified nurses to Ontario’s hospitals remains stiff. That’s why she’s turning to KGH staff for assistance. Staff will be awarded $500 for every successful recruit through the hospital’s employee referral program. The objective of the campaign is to hire 100 nurses over the period of 100 business days.

“We have many full-time positions to offer in a variety of areas,” says Gilchrist. “This is an aggressive campaign but we think that with everybody’s support and the incentive, we can meet our goal.” It is estimated that KGH will need to recruit 250 nurses per year over the next five years to meet an ever-increasing shortage of registered nurses.

“We now have vacancies in every program on every unit,” says Gilchrist. “The medicine and oncology units are in particular need right now.” Most KGH nurses who want to work full-time hours currently are, she adds.

Part-time nurses have historically filled full-time openings as they became available, however full-time vacancies are now available and HR will be looking to external candidates to fill them. “From a recruitment perspective this is positive as it’s much easier to convince a nurse to relocate to Kingston for a full versus part-time opportunity,” says Gilchrist.

Human resources first introduced its employee referral program nearly two years ago when it was looking to recruit seven new pharmacists. The campaign was so successful that HR wants to try it again, says Gilchrist.”We hope that this will engage staff and show them that they have a role to play in recruiting,” she says. “We want to celebrate that role.”

HR also wants to convey the message that the responsibility of recruitment isn’t limited to managers, clinical educators or human resources itself, she adds. Each year, KGH plays host to about 50 fourth-year nursing students for their consolidation placement. While it is hoped that they’ll consider staying on afterward, it’s not a guarantee, says Gilchrist. Consolidating nursing students are eligible to be referred under the employee referral program, but there’s a twist, says Gilchrist. The referral must come from the unit, not just one person.

Eleanor Rivoire, chief nursing executive and senior vice-president of patient care, says that while on the surface the initiative may appear to only benefit recruitment, it also should support retention of existing KGH nurses who are already key to patient care and professional practice. The addition of new graduates and experienced nurses to the organization will help reduce day-to-day workload stress on nurses who may be overextended, she adds. “Anything that helps with recruitment will also help with retention.”

The fall is one of the busiest times of year for nurse recruitment with job fairs and information sessions happening in cities all over Ontario. KGH stops included London, Toronto, Montreal, Peterborough, Kingston and Oshawa.