At a time when healthcare facilities are scrambling to come up with creative ways to attract nurses, SSM Rehab in St. Louis has taken a somewhat novel approach. Kurt Delabar, SSM director of human resources, outlines how the hospital filled almost 75 percent of its nursing vacancies in a four-hour period by holding a nurse "phone-a-thon."
HL: How did the phone-a-thon work?
Delabar: We advertised the event by mailing out about 15,000 postcards to local licensed nurses. We did more than 100 radio spots, three days prior to and the day of the event. We also ran an ad in the entertainment section of the newspaper. The ad said, "Come to your next interview in your robe." We had clinical directors and a nurse executive doing the clinical interviews and making contingent job offers.
HL: What prior recruitment efforts had you used and how did this differ?
Delabar: We focused on standard methods such as job fairs, coordinating with nursing schools, and print advertising. But they weren't working. The phone-a-thon cost us $18,500, but we estimated we saved $115,400 in agency fees and temps and about $15,000 on recruiting costs. We made 18 offers to applicants the day of the event. Eleven ended up taking positions.
HL: What advice would you give to other managers thinking about conducting a phone-a-thon?
Delabar: I would suggest that during the phone-a-thon you make sure to cross off any filled positions from your list to prevent offering the same position to more than one person.