Nursing for me is about making a difference — and every day I’m making a difference in the lives of the people I care for. Take a Monday earlier this month. A patient of mine living with cerebral palsy was struggling to complete her therapeutic exercises. Her mother, clearly frustrated, feared her daughter wasn’t making sufficient progress. Dedicated and caring, the mother also worried that she wasn’t doing enough to help her daughter improve and succeed.
But this young woman was improving — slowly, surely, in ways imperceptible to the untrained eye. “Your daughter can now open both of her hands; all of our hard work is clearly paying off,” I explained, as the mother’s face transformed from hopeless to full of hope. “Your daughter just wants to be independent,” I continued, “and she obviously gets this spirit from you.”
Independence – as much as making a difference – is becoming a bigger focus for me in my career. The freedom to control my schedule. The freedom to control my income. The freedom to care for my three children. The freedom to care for me.
Until recently, I didn’t really have that choice.
For too long nurses have been treated like afterthoughts. We’re burned out and stressed out – from Covid, from our home lives, from feeling like our needs are always considered last. And this not only impacts our ability to perform, it threatens the effectiveness of the entire healthcare systems we’re so passionately committed to supporting. Yet, the working conditions and rigid schedules have not changed with the world around us.
Over my six-year career in nursing, I’ve witnessed both the indifference and abuse that has become too common in our industry. As a result, our community is suffering. Less than half of the 12,000 nurses recently polled by the American Nurses Association (ANA), for instance, believe that their employers care about them – a mere 19 percent for nurses 35 and under. More than 50 percent of all nurses are also thinking about leaving nursing; a figure that rises to 63 percent for nurses under 35. The latter numbers particularly worry me; with so many of my younger brothers and sisters ready to give up on nursing – and a national nursing shortage only expected to get worse – the future of the profession I love has never felt grimmer.
I know what it’s like to be undervalued in the workplace. I’ve been told by nursing agencies to wait in the cold if my patients are running late. Then when they finally do arrive, I’ve been expected to wash their clothes – even though I’m a nurse, not a housekeeper. I’ve been berated by patients for “moving too slowly” and battled with administrators for adequate PPE safety gear during the height of the pandemic. I’ve been made to feel like a number – a body – by nursing agencies just focused on profits and disrespected by patients and family members aggressively insistent I could just “do more.”
But more must be done to consider our needs, too – both by the nursing industry and the community of nurses to whom we all belong. What we seek is to be seen, valued, and supported in ways that matter. To be listened to if we are struggling during a hard shift. To hear “thank you” instead of being ignored. To give us tools and resources to take care of our mental health because after the past two years, we need it.
I experienced this kind of support unexpectedly when I found connectRN, a new platform that matches nurses with health care facilities that need our services. The ability to work when I want, where I want has given me the independence I was seeking, and an opportunity to step away if I need to recharge. As a mother, this flexibility is more important than ever. I can take on shifts that work with my child-care needs, eliminating the stress that usually occurs when making money and being a Mom collide. This should become an industry standard, rather than a perk from a digital start-up.
One of the things I value most about connectRN is that they are nurse-first and care as much about our community as the shifts they post. When I joined the platform, I was given access to The Beat, a private community of nurses who also work with connectRN. It is a safe space to chat with your peers about the things only nurses can truly understand – without the fear of reprisal or retribution. We share stories about hard shifts, give each other support to keep going, and often find “work buddies” in the places we work often. As debates rage around the role of nursing unions, hospitals and agencies must understand that a united nursing community is a better nursing community – better equipped, better prepared, and far better focused on the needs of our patients. With my life far more than just nursing – kids (both teens and a toddler), my extended family, a bit of me time – I feel lucky to be part of this community
For me, personally, The Beat proved particularly helpful when dealing with mental health concerns. At the height of Covid, the community offered telehealth therapy sessions through a partnership to use at our discretion. To be honest, I never considered I might need this kind of help — no one had ever asked me. But the death of a colleague — a young mother who passed away shortly after giving birth — hit me harder than I’d initially expected. I needed help to process how I was feeling and I took advantage of the offer. To have that support – for free – made me feel worthy and valued.
Over the past two years, I’ve been struck by a newfound respect for nurses as the Covid crisis continues unabated. Patients and families recognize our role at the frontlines of the pandemic and understand the risks taken daily to help their loved ones survive. What’s needed now is a parallel boost in understanding and appreciation from the hospitals and nursing agencies that power our profession. Because fairer pay, added flexibility, stress reduction, and self-care won’t just improve the lives of nurses, they’ll help ensure the positive patient outcomes we all desire. As nurses, we intuitively understand the necessity of these demands; it’s time for staffing agencies and health facilities to embrace this mindset with equally open hearts and minds.
Healthcare recruiters are one of the primary reasons your medical organization can provide exceptional patient care and help you maintain or exceed your bottom line.
The first Tuesday in June is National Healthcare Recruiter Recognition Day. Take time on June 7 to recognize and honor all the healthcare recruiters in your organization and to help them understand how valued and appreciated they are by your healthcare team.
What Do Healthcare Recruiters Do?
The roles and responsibilities of a healthcare recruiter are similar to those of a recruiter in any other industry. They are responsible for finding and hiring highly qualified candidates for open healthcare positions. This often requires attending job fairs, searching the internet, and making cold calls to identify and hunt down the best potential candidates. It also involves advertising open positions on social media, pre-screening candidates, conducting interviews, and processing new-hire paperwork.
These are just a few of the countless duties performed by healthcare recruiters, including nursing program recruitment teams. Healthcare recruiters often face a large amount of pressure since they are responsible for finding and hiring the best possible workers with the skills and compassion needed to provide optimal care and make a positive difference.
What Value Can a Healthcare Recruiter Provide to a Medical Practice?
As a healthcare official, you want the best nurses and clinicians on your team. Healthcare recruiters have the ability to choose only the candidates who have the proper licensing and credentials and are up to date on the latest medical policies and procedures. Healthcare recruiters can also handle salary negotiations and provide you with access to top candidates without you having to publicly post open positions on job boards.
If you are a nurse or other healthcare worker on the hunt for a new job, the benefits of working with a healthcare recruiter include:
Learning about job opportunities and unpublished positions you may not know about.
Facing less competition in the job market, especially if a healthcare recruiter is already familiar with your credentials or experience.
Getting contacted about open positions for which you qualify instead of having to actively hunt down open positions yourself.
Gaining tips for job interviews from recruiters who are very familiar with the hiring medical practice.
Getting confirmation on the certifications or credentials you need for a certain open position.
The Role of Healthcare Recruiters in Nursing
If you recently completed nursing program enrollment or want to begin a nursing residency program, a healthcare recruiter can work with you to find open positions that align with your chosen specialty. When you complete nursing school or your residency, a healthcare recruiter can continue working with you to help you land the nursing job of your dreams.
Take time this month to reach out to a healthcare recruiter, and consider working with one if you’re looking to enhance your healthcare career or need to expand your medical practice.
Chances are you’ve seen and read more positive portrayals of nursing in the news media since the start of the pandemic than in years past. Recall those days at the start of the pandemic when nurses and other healthcare providers were hailed as heroes, and the country was counting on nursing, as part of an overwhelmed healthcare system, to help see it through a terrifying plague.
Now, a new survey confirms that nurses feel the portrayal of nursing has become more positive. Of 1,000 nurses surveyed on behalf of healthcare staffing firm connectRN, 63% said that nurses were portrayed more positively in the media now than before the pandemic (55%).
Yet, other results of that survey highlight rather distressing views from nurses. For one thing, 85% of the surveyed nurses said they felt misunderstood by the general public. And, perhaps more disturbing, 47% said that the biggest misconception about nurses is that their job is “easy” compared to other healthcare professionals.
“There’s a big disconnect between what they feel bedside and how they think the public is perceiving them,” said connectRN CEO Ted Jeanloz in an interview. “I think a big part of it is the isolation of the last two years. Hospitals have not been a place where visitors are generally allowed. Nurses have much less interaction than they used to. I think there’s much more social isolation as a result of COVID protocols and other things that are weighing on the mental health of the field.”
What’s more, some 83% of respondents said that nurses are underrecognized for what they do as front-line workers.
“I think the survey was largely in line with what we hear every day from the nurses who choose to work with us and then elect to use our platform,” said Jeanloz. “The findings were not inconsistent with what we’ve heard from nurses who certainly feel underappreciated.” Of the nurses surveyed, over three-quarters were employed full-time. Some 63% were RNs and 37% were certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
connectRN offers a staffing app that enables nurses and other clinicians to take extra shifts in other facilities. Some 125,000 users are on the platform.
Higher pay, better staffing ratios needed
To make nursing more bearable, nurses in the survey cited higher pay (41%) and smaller nurse-to-patient ratios (23%). “Unfortunately,” said Jeanloz, “we’ve seen situations over the last six months to a year where hospitals and facilities are offsetting higher pay with higher ratios. So the hospital bottom line is coming through okay, but the nursing job is actually getting even harder than it already was. And that’s been a real source of frustration for a lot of our nurses.”
The need for actions to be taken to make the profession more bearable and more attractive is supported by recent nursing employment figures. An analysis of nurse employment in Health Affairs published in January 2022 found that growth in the RN workforce plateaued during the first 15 months of the COVID pandemic.
New data, according to Health Affairs Forefront, covering the entirety of 2021, showed the total supply of RNs decreased by more than 100,000 in one year. The authors say that is a far greater drop than observed over the past four decades. Of even greater alarm, the decrease stemmed not as much from RNs older than age 50 but rather primarily from younger RNs, the authors say.
On a bright note, 66% of the respondents described their career as rewarding; 41% said it was joyful. Almost three-quarters (79%) said that the healthcare workers they work with daily often make them feel supported and 40% said they feel the most appreciation from their patients.
By and large, notes Jeanloz, nurses love nursing. Paradoxically, that can lead to a problem of its own. “We put incredible demands on people because we know they love what they do. And as a society we take advantage of that. And this is a moment where it doesn’t surprise me at all that nurses say they love what they do. We’ve known that for a long time. The question is, how can we love them back and how can we give them what they deserve in that model?”
The $125 million donation by Leonard A. Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of The Estee Lauder Companies, to create this first-of-its-kind, tuition-free Program is the largest gift ever to an American nursing school. Mr. Lauder is a Penn alumnus. The gift comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the nation’s acute shortage of primary care providers, and persisting inequities in access to quality healthcare.
“This is the most timely and consequential gift not only for our university but for our country. It is unprecedented in its potential to address America’s most critical need of providing primary health care to all who currently lack it by investing in nurses,” said former Penn President Amy Gutmann.
“Growing the number of nurse practitioners who are prepared and committed to working in underserved areas is the most practical and inspiring way to ensuring a healthier country. I am grateful and honored that Leonard would make this gift to Penn Nursing, and thrilled to know that it will have an immediate impact that will last far into the future.”
Nurse practitioners are leaders on the front lines of care, a role never more important as Americans confront a primary healthcare shortage in their communities. With their advanced clinical training and graduate education, nurse practitioners have the knowledge and skill to supervise and manage critical aspects of care in a decision-making capacity, from patient diagnosis, to ordering and interpreting tests, to prescribing medication. Nurse practitioners deliver high-quality primary care to people of all ages, such as treating common illnesses, managing chronic conditions, and providing preventive care that helps patients stay healthy.
Nurse practitioners are also able to take on key leadership roles, from managing and operating walk-in or community clinics to leading interdisciplinary teams within health systems. The new Program will better the lives of patients and communities most in need, while providing a pathway for the many nurses interested in advanced education who may not otherwise have the means to pursue it.
Structure: Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Fellows will enroll full-time in a two-year, rigorous Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Penn Nursing.
Community Practice: Fellows will complete at least 50 percent of their clinical education at community partner sites in the greater Philadelphia area that provide direct patient care, an invaluable experience that will prepare Fellows to meet the complex needs of patients and families throughout their careers. Every Fellow will be expected to commit to practice or service in an underserved community for two years after graduation.
Recruitment: Penn Nursing will select 10 Fellows to begin classes this fall, growing the program enrollment through 2026 when it will reach its annual target enrollment of 40 Fellows, continuing in perpetuity. By 2027, the program will have enrolled 140 excellent nurse practitioner students. Fellows will need to show a demonstrated commitment to working in underserved neighborhoods, where they are needed most, and to promoting health equity.
Tuition: All participants in the program will enter the workforce free of graduate school debt, receiving student aid to cover their tuition and fees and thereby eliminating any potential financial barriers for nurses and others who wish to enroll. Fellows with greater financial need will also receive stipends to help with living expenses.
Program Leadership: Penn Nursing will name the first endowed Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Professor, who will oversee curriculum innovation, support of community sites, and program implementation.
Penn Community Partnership: Penn Nursing will provide support for select community partner sites to support the clinical education of Fellows while providing professional development and networking opportunities and access to School and University resources.
“Penn Nursing has a long history of advancing science, promoting equity, practice excellence, and preparing leaders. That’s why Mr. Lauder’s gift is so meaningful. The synergy between Penn Nursing and the Program will improve the health of underserved patients and families, by uniquely preparing primary care nurse practitioners, who will work with them in their communities. The sustained investment in the education and careers of primary care nurse practitioners and communities is unprecedented. We are excited by the opportunity to lead this important Program and to extend its impact beyond Penn Nursing,” says Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel. “We are deeply grateful to Mr. Lauder for recognizing and investing in this critical need, and for partnering with us in this ambitious endeavor.”
NPs are “key” to health care in underserved communities
Stephen P. Fera, Executive Vice President of Independence Blue Cross, which is one of the community partners that will be involved in the new initiative, noted that nurse practitioners are key to improving individual and community care. Said Fera: “Bolstering the nurse practitioner workforce is a means to improve access to care and strengthen the health care safety net provided by health centers. This is a key priority of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and our partnership with Penn Nursing has been synergistic in efforts to prepare nurses to work in community-based settings. The Program will build and strengthen our individual and collective efforts toward improving the health and well-being of communities.”
“Now more than ever, the country needs greater and more equitable access to quality primary care—and highly-skilled nurse practitioners are the key to making that happen,” said Leonard A. Lauder. “The program will ensure that more Americans receive the essential health care services that everyone deserves, and I’m so pleased to be working with Penn Nursing on this initiative. I look forward to welcoming our first class of future nurse practitioners this fall. I know their expertise will be matched only by their commitment to serving our communities.”
Despite the burden placed on nurses during the pandemic, applications to nursing programs are up. Many millennials seek careers in nursing, looking to fill the vacated positions as baby boomers retire and today’s nurses leave healthcare due to burnout.
In fact, there aren’t enough seats to meet the increase in applications. And today’s nurses aren’t stopping with an associate’s degree. Continuing education is the norm as more and more nurses seek opportunities requiring bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
The students are out there, and they’re looking for your program. So how do they find you?
You’ve got your marketing plan in place and your target defined — but so do all the other nursing programs. How do you convince prospects that yours is the right program for them?
Here are three ways to differentiate your program from the others to attract the right prospects.
Build an Authentic Brand
Your brand isn’t just your program logo and tagline; it’s a representation of who you are and how you want prospects to view you. A consistent and memorable brand distinguishes your program from the competition, clarifies what you have to offer, and builds not just a reputation but a connection with prospects that share your values. An authentic brand builds relationships.
What’s important to your program? Social consciousness, community outreach, clinical research, diversity, partnering with outstanding clinical organizations? Share what you value in your marketing. Make your values part of your brand. The right students will find you.
Develop a Well-Rounded Digital Presence
Today, your digital presence is as important as brochures and tours were in past generations. As many as 79% of millennials are on social media daily, and not just a single platform. Millennials use Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok. They communicate online, shop online, and are comfortable working and taking classes online.
Meet them where they’re at.
Building a broad, diverse digital presence ensures your brand gets in front of as many digitally-savvy recruits as possible and shows that your program wasn’t left behind in the digital revolution.
Promote Your Strengths and Accomplishments
The curriculum may be similar from program to program, but what your organization does with it isn’t. Highlight your program’s strengths, accomplishments, special organizations, and activities. Celebrate your students’ successes. Standing out from the rest can be done by shining a light on all that makes your program unique. Your digital presence is the perfect place to share stories, press releases, awards, and special events.
Attract Tomorrow’s Students Today
Tomorrow’s nurses are out there looking for a program just like yours. Make today count. Build your brand and celebrate your program authentically and frequently in the digital arena your prospects use every day.
Springer Publishing Knows How to Make Your Program Stand Out
At Springer Publishing, we know how important it is to position your brand to attract the right prospects for your program. We can help you stand out.
Our services include email marketing, digital banner ads, email newsletter ads, branding placements, and more. Call us today at (212) 845-9933 or contact us on our website to schedule a meeting with us to learn more about finding a solution that works for you.
A new study shows that the labor market for the nursing workforce tightened throughout the first 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, in a period marked by falling employment and rising wages across the health care industry.
The paper, “Nurse Employment During the First 15 Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” funded by The Johnson & Johnson Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation, UnitedHealth Group, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is in the January issue of the journal Health Affairs. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Current Population Survey, the study identified and described the immediate economic impact of the pandemic on registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants across the U.S. from April 2020 through June 2021.
Dr. Peter Buerhaus, MSU Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing.
The authors found that the pandemic has had dramatic impacts on health care delivery organizations and the nurse workforce they employ.
Although the research team focused on the nursing workforce, the results also shed light on overall employment in major sectors of health care delivery. Overall employment throughout health care delivery systems – including hospitals, outpatient facilities, home health care agencies, physician offices, and nursing homes – experienced an “unprecedented” decline after the COVID-19 virus was identified and began spreading throughout the country.
But as employment gradually resumed in most settings, the health care labor market shifted. Overall employment in hospitals, home health, and physician offices had nearly bounced back to pre-pandemic levels by June 2021 with two exceptions: employment in outpatient facilities not only bounced back but exceeded pre-pandemic levels by October 2020, and nursing home employment continued a steady decline over the study period.
Nurses and the “Covid-19 Effect” on unemployment
For nurses specifically, the researchers found that in the early months of the pandemic, unemployment shot up in hospitals, physician offices, home health care, and outpatient clinics as patients canceled appointments and these organizations greatly reduced their operations. Between the first and third quarters of 2020, unemployment rates peaked. At their highest, approximately an additional 100,000 registered nurses, 25,000 licensed practical nurses and 90,000 nursing assistants were unemployed compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
The authors noted that unemployment has rarely been a problem for nurses in health care. For example, over the past several decades, the unemployment rate for RNs has rarely exceeded 1%.
“These findings are especially striking regarding the total supply of registered nurses,” Auerbach said. “We have gotten used to the workforce growing year after year – yet these data suggest we may be experiencing a plateau right now. That would have huge implications for the delivery of health care.”
Auerbach noted that nursing unemployment during the first 15 months of the pandemic varied by settings, with increases in unemployment higher in non-hospital settings.
Furthermore, unemployment spikes in the second quarter of 2020 were higher among registered nurses and nursing assistants of color than among white, non-Hispanic registered nurses and nursing assistants.
Real wage growth for the first time in a decade
In addition, the researchers found that the pandemic seems to have positively affected nurses’ earnings. After a decade of virtually no real wage growth, wage increases during the first five quarters of the pandemic were 9.5% for licensed practical nurses, 5.7% for nursing assistants, and 2% for registered nurses. Wage increases were highest in hospital settings and also higher among the lowest-paid registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants.
“These data confirm anecdotal reports of rising wages among nurses and nurse aides in response to staffing challenges in both hospitals and long-term care facilities. It’s important to note regional and state variation in these effects as the pandemic flares locally and regionally in this time period,” Donelan said.
More disruption ahead?
Looking ahead, the researchers plan to continue analyzing monthly data on the nurse workforce through 2021. The team also plans to make new projections of the supply of the registered nursing workforce through 2030, taking into account two factors that could greatly impact the registered nursing workforce in coming years: interest in nursing as a career and retirement plans of older nurses.
“Regarding entry into the nursing workforce, it is unclear whether the pandemic will lead to increased or decreased interest,” Buerhaus said. “With regard to exit from the workforce, an estimated 660,000 baby boom nurses are still working during the pandemic, the vast majority of whom are expected to retire by 2030. If substantial numbers of these older registered nurses exit the workforce earlier than they had planned, the size of the nursing workforce could decrease more quickly and disrupt nursing labor markets throughout the country.”
The exit and entry questions bear careful watching, Buerhaus added. Buerhaus’s co-authors include Douglas Staiger at Dartmouth College; David Auerbach, external adjunct faculty at MSU; Max Yates, a recent MSU graduate; and Karen Donelan of Brandeis University.