5 things to look for when hiring a nurse

hiring a nurse

Nurses are often referred to as the backbone of the healthcare sector. All healthcare facilities require a nurse to interact with patients to provide fundamental and emergency medical care. Patients admitted to a healthcare facility have considerably greater interaction with the nurses than the attending doctor. Therefore, patients’ experience of the healthcare facility is heavily impacted by the quality of nursing care. Patients with a positive experience are much more likely to return to the hospital facility than those with a negative experience. This factor further emphasizes the importance of nurses in forming patients’ perceptions of their experience and the patients’ likelihood of returning to the facility. Hence, if you are a recruiter for a healthcare facility, you should prioritize using standard recruitment procedures to hire nurses. Whether you provide healthcare services to patients through a hospital or a clinic, you will need a professional nurse. However, it can be challenging to distinguish between nurse applicants due to the high demand for the job and the similarity in profiles. Going through the volume of applications is a tedious task but an important one, nonetheless. This article can help you in that process by highlighting five things to look for when hiring a nurse.

One of the first things you should look at in a nurse applicant’s resume is their educational qualification. The three common qualifications you will notice amongst your candidates are Registered Nurses (RN), registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, and nurses with an RN to BSN degree. Registered nurses are nurses who have acquired their license by passing their nursing exam and fulfilling the academic requirement of having a three-year degree. This degree can either be an associate degree from a community college or a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Nurses with a BSN degree acquire their registration and licensing after completing a formal three- or four-year undergraduate program from a university. Nurses with an RN to BSN are registered nurses who have undertaken a one-year transitional degree program at a university to acquire the BSN qualification. BSN degree programs or RN to BSN degree programs inculcate knowledge of nursing science. This includes nursing theory, nursing research, nursing practice, and leadership in nursing. Nurses with these qualifications can take on other roles besides a traditional nurse. They are trained to take on the role of a teacher for student nurses, nursing administration roles, a consultative role for informing nursing care, and roles in implementing nursing research. In your role as a recruiter, your understanding of this difference will help you assess the nurse candidate’s suitability for a nursing position. 

  • Relevant Experience

The second thing you should look at while hiring a nurse is their experience. Nurses with experience in the same type of healthcare facility you are providing or experience in the same position you are offering should receive greater attention during the recruitment process. Once you have verified that the nurse has the relevant experience, you should check their past employer references to assess the quality of their performance in their past job. It will be important in establishing the prospective nurse’s capacity to perform the job. This factor allows you to hire a nurse with relevant experience in the operating environment and/or working position. Ensuring the congruency between job role and experience significantly reduces the time and resources needed in training the hired nurse for the required job role.

  • Emotional Intelligence

The next thing for you to focus on during the hiring process is the emotional intelligence of the nurse candidates. Due to their greater interaction with patients, nurses must have a higher level of emotional intelligence to provide quality care. A nurses’ emotional intelligence is reflected by the presence of certain emotional traits necessary for providing quality nursing care. These traits are empathy, compassion, perseverance, and patience. Since these are intangible traits, you will be assessing them as part of your interview process. During the interview, you can ask situational questions to test the prospective candidates’ emotional capacity. You can present scenarios involving patients and adjudge whether the candidate nurse demonstrated the necessary emotional traits in her responses.

  • Bias towards Marginalized Groups

There has been an increased focus on removing biases amongst medical and nursing personnel towards providing care for marginalized groups. These groups include women, children, economically marginalized individuals, refugees, people living with HIV, and physical or mental disabilities. It would be best to focus on this aspect during the interview by asking questions that ascertain the nurses’ attitude towards providing medical care for individuals from marginalized groups. You can emphasize the group that is most relevant to the nature of your organization’s work. For instance, if you are working for an HIV screening or treatment center, you should focus on assessing the candidate nurse’s attitude towards medical care for people living with HIV. Identifying potential biases towards patients is a highly important and often ignored facet in the recruitment of nurses. A nurse’s capacity to provide medical and nursing care irrespective of the patient’s identity, ailment, and background is a sign of an excellent professional nurse.

  • Communication Skills

The last aspect to focus on is the nurses’ communication skills. A good nurse should have excellent proficiency in verbal, non-verbal, and written communication in the relevant language. These skills allow them to communicate effectively with patients, doctors, administration, and attendants. During the interview process, you can assess verbal and non-verbal communication skills, while written communication can be assessed through the written content in the applicants’ resumes and correspondences.

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Final Thoughts

Hiring a nurse can be a daunting task as there is no shortage of nursing professionals in the market. You can simplify the process by focusing on the five simple factors during recruitment. Start by ascertaining relevant qualifications and experience in candidates’ resumes for the concerned job. In addition, besides questions surrounding the concerned job, ask targeted questions to infer the nurses’ emotional intelligence, communication proficiency, and potential biases towards marginalized groups. These factors are fundamental to providing good nursing care. Henceforth, you can consider standardizing using these five factors as your assessment criteria for various nursing roles.

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