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Contributing to the nursing shortage is a change in US demographics, with the US Census Bureau reporting that by 2030, the number of US residents age 65 and over is projected to be 82 million. This more significant number of older adults means a growing need for care for people with chronic diseases and comorbidities.

According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), by 2022, there will be more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. Plus, more than 500,000 seasoned RNs will retire by 2022. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new nurses to replace retirees to avoid a nursing shortage.

Your team needs to always be growing. An effective nurse referral program is one of the best techniques to attract top nursing staff. Your current staff can proactively scout for new talent to recruit new people to work at your facility. One facility in Asheville, NC, offered employees a referral bonus of $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the nursing position. Just make sure that the bonuses you offer are high enough to gain the attention of your staff.

PREMIUM CONTENT: US Healthcare Staffing Market Assessment: 2021 Update

Here are some tips for establishing an effective referral program for hiring medical staff:

  • Pay employees for referrals. Pay them on a moving scale based on what type of staff you need to hire more of. For example, if you need more CNAs, pay employees $500 for each name that hires on. If you can’t pay for each referral, try holding a raffle for something substantial so that workers will enter the names of candidates. When you pay your own productive, top employees to find additional workers, they typically recommend someone like them.
  • Pay non-employee referrals to encourage those who may know a nurse looking to work at a different facility. Because the cost to hire on average is $4000, an employee referral program cuts this cost significantly, and you have enough money to pay non-employees as well.
  • Ask top nurses to increase their referral numbers by asking them to refer friends, former workers or retirees.
  • Ask your nurses which staff have impressed them the most. Ask these nurses to call these people to see if they are interested in working at your facility. Help nurses convince others to hire by reminding them about the benefits they receive. You may need to study your benefits and update them to more substantial offerings, such as childcare supplements, vision & dental benefits, and more.
  • Ask partners, IT, vendors, consultants, and suppliers if they would like to refer anyone and give them a bonus for doing so.
  • Join associations, such as the American Nursing Association, and search for the nursing staff there. Some associations will let you advertise your referral program on their website.
  • Visit nursing schools and offer referral bonuses to soon-to-graduate nurses — market your organization and referral program to these graduates to be aware of potential rewards they can receive. Have a program to mentor these new grads in a supportive environment.
  • Make the referral process as easy as possible. Perhaps use a mobile program so that anyone that is out and about and runs across a prospective employee can easily submit the name and contact information. These mobile applications also track referral bonus payout so you can keep track of your recruitment costs.
  • If you don’t have a mobile app, put up a Dropbox to add resumes of potential candidates. Or use a simple online form.

Most importantly, don’t forget to recognize employees for referring candidates. Announce their contribution to your company and introduce the new nurse in an internal email or company newsletter to demonstrate how they found their way to you.