Technology Will Ameliorate the Nursing Shortage
The nursing shortage is real and growing. More than one million vacancies for RNs will emerge between 2014 and 2022, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
. By 2025, the shortage of nurses will reach unprecedented levels, says the Bureau of Health Professions.
Technology is emerging as an ally and tool—not only for current and prospective nurses but also for nurse leaders within healthcare organizations (HCOs) that seek professionals with the required skills, competencies and passion for the nursing profession.
New Tech Changes the Game
America, it seems, is in the midst of three technological revolutions according to the Pew Research Center: broadband, mobile and social media, with even more revolutions on the horizon.
Generation Y—known in the popular press as Millennials—grew up and came of age during these unprecedented tech disruptions. They accessed data, information and entertainment via technology. They went to school and learned via technology. And they continue to think, create and even feel via technology.
Not surprisingly, these Millennials tend to eschew traditional marketing and nurse recruitment tactics. Instead, they seek transparency, pose challenging questions and access answers via social media and online communities.
The same is true of even younger members of Generation Z. They endorse influencer marketing, mobile technologies, informed shopping and near-instant gratification.
Members of Generation Z are "independent, stubborn, pragmatic, and always in a rush," says Business Insider and "so hooked into the digital world that some academics have nicknamed them ‘the mutants.'"
Connecting to Up-and-Coming Nurses
Attracting members of these new generations means connecting with them through a highly selective "social media ecosystem," according to a survey from marketing agency Fluent Group. On the top of the list: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
The same social media zeal applies to Millennials, who turn to Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook over Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ or Tumblr, according to Business Insider. They also find career guidance on sites like Levo, The Muse and Flexjobs.
Nursing professionals can use the same strategies to reach out to young parents via social media channels comparable to sites like Working Mother or Modern Mom. They also can build a presence within minority communities through social media channels allied with publications like Ebony, Essence, Jet or Black Enterprise.
Nursing schools will attract Generation Y and Z students by showcasing emerging educational technologies—from virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing, to sophisticated simulations, social games and interactive online textbooks. Just as exciting are educational innovations like competency-based learning, skills measurement, alternative learning styles and flipped learning.
Both nursing schools and HCOs can attract nursing talent via websites and online communities. Millennials, in particular, seek websites and social media destinations with the following characteristics, according to IDG Research:
- Dazzling, attention-getting graphics
- Brief, well-written, easy-to-understand content
- Engaged communities of users
Providing Quality Information
Despite their disdain for the traditional, Millennials have standards. They seek content that meets the criteria of mobility, reliability, accuracy, freedom from bias, candor and use of multiple viewpoints and respected sources.
HCOs committed to attracting nurse talent can zero in on their tech assets, making a solid connection between tech and Magnet status, quality and outcomes. Other website and social media suggestions include the following:
- Focus on Tech: Emphasize the integration, use and benefits of varied types of technology throughout the healthcare enterprise—especially how technologies interface with and involve nurses.
- Illuminate Nursing: Showcase the nurse's role in technology needs assessment, planning, selection, implementation, education and sustainability.
- Develop Professionally: Offer ongoing opportunities for online and tech-based nursing career guidance and clinical advancement.
- Engage with Visuals: Rely on video to explore nursing trends and introduce nurse leaders within the HCO.
- Send Kudos: Profile nurses with a demonstrated commitment to technology-driven innovation, including the use of social media, mobile and online learning.
- Tell Stories: Invite nurses to share stories of tech-facilitated patient care, education, engagement and mission fulfillment.
Once HCOs recruit nurses, retention becomes the number one priority. HCOs can build loyalty by inviting nurses to join their colleagues in technology evaluation, development, implementation, education and promotion. Other ideas for retention include the following:
- Advocacy: Invite nurses to become technology ambassadors who share tech features, functions, risks, benefits and potential results with internal and external audiences.
- Community: Build online communities where nurses can connect with each other and with interdisciplinary colleagues about shared challenges, trends and goals like care collaboration, data exchange, outpatient care or patient safety.
- Teaching: Invite nurses to become tech mentors and coaches, zeroing in on opportunities, barriers and potential crises of technologies like electronic health records or mobile devices.
- Education: Offer online education in new and emerging technologies, as well as hot button issues like privacy, security, health information exchange, electronic health records and mobile.
As healthcare and the world become more connected, technology will continue to play an integral role in attracting nursing prospects.