Why are healthcare services struggling to recruit nurses? Ishbel Straker believes the answer lies in the culture of the service
Recruiting nurses has become one of the most difficult tasks for healthcare services. According to the NMC, this is due to cuts in the number of training places leading to too few nurses qualifying.
Tabloids have been filled with headlines of Britain’s need to recruit overseas nurses and statistically 1 in 4 nurses have been recruited from overseas.
But this doesn’t appear to be the solution, we’ve heard stories about hospitals spending thousands of pounds on trips abroad to recruit nurses, only to have 50% of these nurses leave within a year.
Part of me can’t help but wonder: shouldn’t we make our services more appealing to the underpinning values of a nurse?
“Shouldn’t we make our services more appealing to the underpinning values of a nurse? ”
If the pay scales are competitive, the clinical governance structures effective, staffing structures progressive, a preceptorship offered alongside further learning, revalidation and CPD protocols are active, and patient centred care is at the heart and soul of the ethos of the service, then why is recruiting at least qualified, progressional nurses so difficult?
If the above structures are not in place or effectively driven by the right people I can see this leaving clinicians feeling vulnerable.
A survey from one of the largest American recruitment companies stated that hospitals and clinics known for their quality healthcare services and advancement in treatment appeal to a broad cross section of nursing candidates.
So is this a clear pointer for all services to entice professionals? Of course!
“A nurse needs to begin their career with the enthusiasm they had as students”
A nurse needs to enter into their career feeling supported and safe, they need to work with a team who are conscientious and working with the protocols set before them.
A nurse needs to begin their career with the enthusiasm they had as students, reflecting on their practice and being patient focused, but they need space from their employer to do this.
A nurse needs to have room to grow, to become passionate advocates of their area of nursing.
Employers need to respond to this growth with acknowledgement and encourage through training and career progression.
A nurse needs to see that their employers understand and revere to their governing body. To not have to explain their limitations and accountability, to work in accordance with the code and be supported to do this.
And finally a nurse needs to be able to care for those that they gave their blood sweat and tears for, the patients.
When I say these things, I am by no means saying that services don’t have these structures in place, I am simply highlighting the needs of a nurse.
I have worked within a plethora of services each one unique and each one with some or all of the above and this is where I draw my conclusion. The services with these aspects in place not only recruited, but also retained good quality, patient centred nurses who became the mentors of the next nursing generation.
Meeting nurses’ needs will begin the drive of services back to the road of recruitment.
Ishbel Straker is a consultant nurse