Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 5, 2024

Health care providers seek to expand ties with nursing educators

Hospitals and health systems are working just as hard to retain, train and keep top nursing talent. They say partnerships with colleges is one way they keep that pipeline open, as well as a focus on the ever-changing needs of the health care industry and the patients it serves. Here’s what that looks like for two Tennessee providers.

Covenant Health, Knoxville

Debi Welch, senior vice president of human resources

Ledger: How are you onboarding nurses right out of school to help them succeed and stay?

Welch: Covenant Health offers a companywide, centralized orientation for all new employees in clinical and nonclinical roles. Our new nurses are part of a nurse residency program through their first six months of employment. Many of our new nursing graduates work within Covenant Health before graduating from nursing school. They become oriented to their unit, colleagues and their preceptor, who all work together to ensure each new graduate is successful.

Ledger: How are you recruiting more seasoned nursing staff?

Welch: Covenant Health has a holistic recruitment plan that includes social media, an engaging nurse recruitment website, hiring fairs and referral and sign-on bonus offers, as well as other opportunities to connect with us.

Ledger: What would an ideal world look like of you in terms of nurses on staff and in the pipeline?

Welch: We are focused on taking care of our patients and the communities we serve. With the impact of COVID-19, the last several years created a challenging environment for all clinicians. However, it is good to see our local schools investing in young students by helping them choose career paths earlier. For example, health science is offered by the 865 Academies, which is part of Knox County Schools, starting in the ninth grade.

Our postsecondary higher education partners also are adding additional cohorts and programs to support the ever-increasing need for clinicians in our marketplace. To achieve an ideal world for nurse staffing, it will take all these programs and others to ensure our pipeline for talent remains strong in the markets we serve.

Hillcrest Healthcare, Knoxville

Doug Bryant, senior vice president of learning, diversity and talent

Ledger: How are you onboarding nurses right out of school to help them succeed and stay?

Bryant: Hillcrest Healthcare offers opportunities for career development in addition to extremely competitive wages. From attending career fairs at local nursing programs to recruiting during clinical rotations, Hillcrest Healthcare offers nurses right out of school ongoing training through The Mason Center for Healthcare Education, as well as other educational partners.

In a “grow our own” approach to new nurses, Hillcrest identifies current nonclinical staff and certified nursing assistants and pays their nursing school tuition. Hillcrest also has been committed to creating a culture of development, respect, compassion, inclusiveness and servant leadership from the top down as a way to attract new talent.

Ledger: How are you recruiting more seasoned nursing staff?

Bryant: More seasoned staff find multiple opportunities at Hillcrest to use their valuable knowledge and expertise in supervisory and director roles. Hillcrest provides seasoned nursing staff with competitive wages and an opportunity to mentor new nurses, impacting the future of senior care. Hillcrest also has found success with a very flexible create-your-own schedule for those who want a semiretirement opportunity that allows for lower weekly hour requirements.

Ledger: What would an ideal world look like of you in terms of nurses on staff and in the pipeline?

Bryant: Building optimal nurse staffing requires leveraging the initiatives of our higher education partners alongside others to maintain a robust talent pipeline ready to meet the growing demand in our region. Our ideal world would be continuing to provide career opportunities for students and qualified employees for senior care and health care providers though The Mason Center for Healthcare Education.

Helping people of all ages and backgrounds to obtain education, certification and training in relevant health care fields will build a strong pipeline of developed professionals. We desire to be a benefit to long-term care residents, health care employees and the community by increasing the number of qualified caregivers in our community and providing rewarding, stable jobs that pay well.