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4 Things Advantis Medical Has Learned

By Ashley Foster, Executive Vice President at Advantis Medical Staffing | Guest Article

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the landscape of healthcare and the recruitment of clinical travelers in ways we could never have predicted. Having previously held a leadership role in Talent Acquisition within a hospital and currently spearheading recruitment at Advantis Medical, I’ve had a front-row seat to observe the evolutions taking place in the travel nurse recruitment process. In this article, I will share some valuable insights into what we’ve learned about recruiting since the pandemic, how we will adapt to the new norms of recruitment, and how nurses can best position themselves for success in a post-pandemic healthcare industry.

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The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare recruitment, making transparency around pay and benefits, fully digital applications, and seamless, rapid onboarding an integral part of the hiring process. An anomaly at the beginning of the pandemic, this technology is now a core component of success in the staffing industry. In fact, 57% of nurses reported to us in 2022 that they are comfortable using technology to search for jobs themselves, but prefer to work with a recruiter as well. Three strategies we have adopted that have proved paramount to serving modern nurses are:

  1. Tracking nurses’ preferences

  2. Curating custom job matches

  3. Providing an intuitive digital platform that removes friction

  4. Develop systems and automations that facilitate instantaneous job applications

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This shift also allows us to reach a broader candidate pool and streamline the talent acquisition process. Going forward, we will continue to invest in digital tools and platforms to ensure we remain competitive in recruiting top clinical talent. 

Retaining clinical professionals is now equally imperative as their recruitment. In the midst of the pandemic, interest in travel nursing surged, resulting in many nurses opting for short-term, 13-week contracts with various agencies. Post-pandemic, a noticeable trend has emerged: some travel nurses have transitioned back into permanent core staff roles, while those who are passionate about the travel lifestyle and higher pay of many short-term contracts have chosen to continue their journey. Promoting quality experiences for these dedicated travel nurses has directly contributed to improved retention rates and has been a pivotal component of both our success at Advantis Medical and nurse satisfaction on assignment.

At Advantis Medical, we embrace the ethos of “treating clinicians like gold.” Our unwavering commitment to achieving over an 80% retention rate has yielded significant benefits:

  • A contented nursing workforce

  • High rates of both contract extension and peer referral

  • A recent #2 employee experience in healthcare ranking in the prestigious MIT Sloan Nurse Satisfaction Index, which analyzed over 150,000 real nurse reviews across 200 healthcare industry employers.

The pandemic brought to the forefront a concerning rise in burnout rates among healthcare professionals. Consequently, replacing experienced nurses who are leaving the profession has proven to be both financially and temporally taxing for hospitals and healthcare systems. 

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In response, Advantis Medical has honed our focus on comprehensive retention strategies, including:

  • Enticing compensation and benefits

  • Fostering career advancement opportunities

  • Implementing recognition programs such as the CARE Awards

  • Facilitating continuous professional development

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These measures not only fortify our team but also sustain the exceptional quality of care that nurses provide to their patients.

Recruiters who thrived in the environment of high demand and easy placements during the pandemic are now facing challenges in adjusting to a more normalized job market. As the primary conduits and the critical human connection between healthcare professionals and your agency, recruiters hold a pivotal role in both attracting and retaining talent. It’s essential that our recruiters undergo continuous development, focusing on key subjects like active listening, relationship-building, empathy, negotiation, sales acumen, and providing candidate feedback and follow-up. These fundamental skills served as a catalyst for elevating our service standards and ensuring nurses feel valued at our agency. It’s crucial to recognize that in this evolving market, those agencies attempting to replace the human element with technology or offshoring may find it challenging to succeed in an industry founded upon relationships, human connection, and trust.

In the post-pandemic landscape, the role of pay in the decisions made by travel nurses regarding where they work and which assignments they accept has evolved. While financial compensation remains important, it is no longer the sole determining factor of where a candidate chooses to work. Agencies have traditionally prioritized offering the highest pay rates to nurses and the lowest bill rates to clients, essentially building their business solely around price competitiveness. While this approach may be effective for landing initial travel assignments, it often leads to unsustainably low profit margins that threaten retention and extension rates, as well as agency profitability and nurse satisfaction. Ultimately, this results in lower compensation for nurses and higher costs for hospital clients, eroding trust on both sides and setting the stage for potential failure.

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However, forward-thinking agencies like ours have shifted the focus towards a service-oriented approach:

  • We recognize the value of treating nurses exceptionally well and providing fair compensation with the belief that this will foster long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. 

  • Finding travel nurse jobs that meet the holistic needs of the nurse is as important as total compensation in today’s modern staffing age! 

  • Taking a psychological approach to serving nurses, we reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Each tier of the hierarchy aligns with our agency’s commitment to meeting the diverse requirements of today’s nurses.

  • We elevate relationships beyond a mere focus on financial gains.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped healthcare and, in turn, the way we recruit travel nurses. We have learned that digital transformation, retention, recruiter development, and a holistic, service-centric approach to meeting nurses’ needs are all essential components of modern healthcare recruitment. As we move forward, we are embracing these lessons and adapting to the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, ultimately attracting and retaining the best clinical talent to provide the highest quality care to patients.

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