You know that recruitment in rural areas can be difficult. It’s challenging to bring awareness to these job postings and attract qualified candidates for these open positions.
In this blog, we’ll explore some tips to generate more interest amongst nurses to work in rural areas.
Recruiting In Rural Locations
Recruiting in rural locations often poses a greater challenge than in other areas of the country. Not only does rural healthcare have unique needs, but there’s also the struggle to attract candidates to these isolated locations.
Recruiters need to familiarize themselves with these communities, balance resource constraints, address misconceptions, and emphasize the positive aspects of these roles in order to address these challenges.
The Unique Needs of Rural Healthcare
Compared to urban areas, the healthcare needs in rural communities are a bit different. For one, due to the rural location, there is limited access to care. There may be limited healthcare facilities, and the long drives may deter the local community from seeking routine care.
In addition, this may create gaps in specialized areas such as mental health and prenatal care. This may exclude travel nurses with specializations in these fields from accepting a rural position. Rural areas also have a higher aging population. This means they have more needs for geriatric care and chronic disease management.
In many rural areas, the adaptation of technology and equipment is slower than in urban locations. This means they have less experience to offer nurses and are also behind in telehealth which could improve recruiting efforts.
The coordination of care is another need that is common in a rural community. It can be difficult to ensure continuity of care in these areas, especially if there are multiple providers taking care of one patient.
The Challenges of Rural Recruiting
There are a lot of unique needs that those in rural areas require. This, paired with being located in an isolated small town, can deter highly qualified people from wanting to work in these areas. Recruiters face a number of challenges when it comes to recruiting in these communities.
Let’s take a look at some of these challenges and how to overcome them:
Lack of Awareness
One of the factors that prevent nurses from taking jobs in these areas is a lack of awareness. The biggest issue behind the lack of awareness is a lack of marketing. If a job ad doesn’t effectively target or reach potential candidates, then it’s a lot more difficult to find talent that would be interested in a rural nursing job.
Another factor impacting awareness of these jobs is a lack of information. If employers don’t communicate the benefits and opportunities associated with a rural position, then candidates will be less likely to be interested in the opening.
Nurses also tend to be unaware of the advantages of working in rural areas as a result of limited exposure. In the nursing education system, there is a lack of representation of rural healthcare which can lead to a lack of interest.
The remote nature of a rural area can lead nurses to be uninterested in a rural job opportunity. Those who prefer the convenience of an urban lifestyle can be deterred by the seeming isolation of a rural community.
Rural areas often face a stereotype that there is a lack of social activities or amenities available in small towns. For travel nurses who are often looking for a new adventure, this may be unappealing. It can be especially difficult for those with families to feel like they’re cut off from their loved ones.
In rural and underserved areas, there’s often limited access to resources as a result of budget constraints. These facilities don’t always have the latest medical equipment and technology, which can limit the types of treatments and services they can offer.
There can also be limited training or room to work in specialized areas as a result of budget restraints. This can deter candidates who are looking to expand their skills.
Additionally, these budget constraints can prevent rural organizations from offering competitive compensation. This can make it difficult to hire travel nurses as they often face moving and relocation costs.
Perception of Higher Workload
Another one of the factors impacting a candidate’s decision to work in a rural area is the perception of a higher workload. As a result of having a smaller workforce, a candidate may feel like they’ll have to take on more tasks.
Nursing candidates may feel like they’ll have to overextend themselves by taking on longer hours, including nights, holidays, and weekends. In addition, they may be called in for emergency cases.
A smaller workforce means that there is less room for specialization and a greater need for generalized skills. This can deter new candidates with specializations and prevent employers from being matched with top talent.
Strategies For Effective Rural Recruitment Efforts
Considering these recruitment obstacles, there needs to be a greater effort put into finding the ideal candidate for a current position.
Here are some strategies you can use to increase your ability to recruit nurses for a rural healthcare job:
Build Strong Relationships With Nursing Schools
One way to recruit more nurses is through strong relationships with nursing schools. By partnering with them, rural healthcare organizations can offer internships and on-the-job training for experience in these areas. Not only does this provide new health professionals to get started in the workforce, but it also exposes them to rural healthcare.
Local organizations should increase their presence on campus with job fairs, career talks, and more. This will lead to increased visibility and interest amongst new candidates.
In addition, offer mentorship programs to local colleges. This pairs students with experienced rural health professionals who can offer guidance and support as well as answer any questions.
Offer Competitive Benefits And Incentives
Another way to increase recruitment levels is through competitive benefits and incentive programs. Offering a competitive compensation package that meets or exceeds what urban hospitals provide can be a significant draw.
Offer housing and relocation assistance to travel nursing candidates as this can be a particularly compelling incentive to them. Other factors that can attract the best candidates are comprehensive health benefits, paid time off, flexible schedules, and continuing education opportunities.
Leverage Technology and Social Media
Leveraging technology and social media platforms to reach top talent is another way to enhance recruitment. Considering the lack of exposure and awareness of these jobs, using online job platforms and social media can help organizations reach the right candidate.
In addition, a well-designed and user-friendly website can lay out why candidates should be interested in a rural healthcare position and ease the application process. A strong online presence is a great way to highlight and promote the unique benefits of working in a rural location.
Once you’re able to hire more talent, you’ll want them to stay with the rural organization. Competitive compensation and incentives are one way to do so. However, there are some additional practices that can improve your ability to hire and maintain the workforce.
Creating a supportive and positive workplace culture can increase retention. If travel nurses feel recognized for their efforts and are offered support while adjusting, they’ll be more likely to remain with the company.
Another way to increase retention is through community engagement. If you facilitate activities such as outdoor recreation and trying local cuisine, nurses will feel more connected to the local community.
Finally, open communication throughout the organization leaves room to discuss concerns, feedback, and new ideas. This can make nurses feel seen and heard and also allow organizations to use the feedback to improve the experience.
Increase Your Recruitment Efforts In Rural Areas
To increase recruitment in these areas, be aware of some of the obstacles and stereotypes that are impacting the inability to find employees. Once there is an understanding of these setbacks, you can utilize the right strategies to increase the number of candidates who are interested in working in these areas.