CHS Ready to Play More Offense on Nurse Recruiting, Training

Nov. 10, 2021
The hospital operator plans to build out its partnership with Jersey College

Community Health Systems Inc. executives are nearing the completion of a project that will centralize their nurse recruiting and are stepping up their efforts to build their pipeline of future nursing talent.

Speaking this week to the Credit Suisse 30th Annual Healthcare Conference, CHS CEO Tim Hingtgen said his team is “trying to shift on the offense” when it comes to recruiting, which the COVID-19 pandemic has made an even more acute pain point than before as a greater number of nurses are retiring or simply quitting their jobs due to burnout or other stress factors. A key cog in that strategy is rolling up to corporate the Nashville-based company’s recruiting work and leaning on digital marketing and sourcing of qualified candidates.

About two-thirds of CHS’ more than 80 hospitals in 16 states already are using the platform, Hingtgen said, and the remainder should be on board by the end of the first quarter. CHS began working on the central recruiting platform before COVID arrived on U.S. shores., testing the program at its Bayfront Health and Lutheran Health Network system in Florida and Indiana, respectively. Today, CHS has about 35 corporate recruiters on its payroll and – using digital marketing tools such as geofencing – is able to cast a broader net than more traditional methods such as local newspaper advertising while also more consistently applying best practices early on in the hiring process.

“We knew we had to really start doing more to actively build our own nursing workforce,” Hingtgen said Nov. 8. “Then the [delta] surge hit and exacerbated a few of the dynamics.”

CHS’ more focused recruiting push comes as the health care sector, along with most others, faces growing labor supply and cost pressures. A recent Premier Inc. report showed that annual turnover is reaching record highs among emergency, ICU and nursing teams, having risen from 18 percent at the beginning of the pandemic to 30 percent now. And a study by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses found that two-thirds of the 6,000 critical care nurses it surveyed have mulled leaving their jobs because of COVID.

A second major part of CHS’ nursing workforce strategy is its partnership with Jersey College to set up hospital-based schools of nursing. Two such programs are up and running in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Port Charlotte, Florida and at least two more are in the works. In a few years, the company’s leaders plan to grow the network so that about half of CHS’ hospitals will have Jersey College connections.

The Jersey College Professional Nursing Program comprises a six-semester curriculum that lets students earn an associate of science degree in nursing. The typical cohort – there are three per year – has about 25 students.

See also: 'How Are Your Critical Care Nurses Doing These Days? The Answer Will Be Important' from May

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