Nursing Recruitment Success at Sunnybrook & Women’s


In a time when much has been written about worldwide nursing shortages, Sunnybrook & Women’s has managed to reduce the number of nursing vacancies from 214 in April 2001, to 153 vacancies as of Summer 2002. This is quite amazing when you realize that out of approximately 2,000 nursing positions S&W has only 153 vacancies across the three campuses. Many of the current vacancies are in specialty areas, which is an ongoing recruitment challenge all hospitals face.

As other Toronto hospitals such as Sick Kids and Humber River Regional are engaging in expensive recruitment trips abroad to the United Kingdom, S&W has been fortunate to be experiencing its lowest vacancy numbers in many years.

How has Sunnybrook & Women’s managed to do this? The excellent reputation of all three campuses is a primary factor. The organization is well known for quality clinical and support services. At job fairs, S&W’s recruitment booth is always extremely busy, the name is recognizable and applicants are eager to discuss employment opportunities.

The Human Resources Department has implemented several recruitment plans in the past two years, changing its recruitment strategy to meet the short-term and long-term needs of the organization. They have set in place a proactive “triage” system that receives, sorts and disseminates across the three campuses the nursing applications as soon as they arrive. Staff have attended job fairs, university and community college career days, and have spent time talking to high school students about S&W and career opportunities.

The Patient Care Managers have been excellent partners in this endeavour and have spent many hours attending job fairs and fast-tracking nursing recruitment. They have been tireless in their commitment and support to the project. It is also thanks to other nursing staff and hospital staff who recommend the organization to their professional colleagues. Word of mouth is a powerful recruitment tool.

Success has also come from within as 50 per cent of positions are filled by Sunnybrook & Women’s own staff who are moving to full-time positions or positions in specialty areas. S&W continues to sponsor its nurses to the George Brown Critical Care Program. The challenge to fill many of the vacancies becomes more intense than Sunnybrook & Women’s community general hospital competitors because of its location and because more of the positions require critical care skills.

Since implementing approximately 30 initiatives to improve the ability to market and recruit nurses, it is truly rewarding to see the reduction in vacancies at Sunnybrook & Women’s.