“Best Practices” for Hiring Physicians and Nurses During the Pandemic: Online Interviews and Outreach to Those Open to Travel & Temporary Work

Given the widespread pressure and challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially facing those in the field of healthcare, it should not come as a surprise that the nation’s job recruiters who target doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are having to adapt in significant ways to “meet the need of the time.”

First and foremost, due to the CDC’s recommendations about social distancing, substituting face-to-face interviews with online interviewing has become the latest “best practice” for job recruiters hiring physicians and nurses. By using today’s technology (Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WebEx, etc.) to ask questions and evaluate potential job candidates, recruiters are maintaining the necessary safety measures to avoid exposure to COVID-19 and slow the spread of it.

As far as meeting the hugely increased demand for physicians and nurses is concerned, smart job recruiters are extending their marketing practices to include finding available workers for “hot spots” that are arising, literally on a daily basis. The “rule of thumb” currently being used is using outreach measures to find those healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, etc.) who are willing to travel and work “temporary” jobs at hospitals and medical centers experiencing peak demands for resources.

According to a model developed by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, many states are projected to have their peak hospital resource demand occur well after those affected earliest (e.g., New York, New Jersey, Michigan). Healthcare reporter Caitlin says projections like these, if heeded, can be extremely valuable (especially to healthcare job recruiters) because they allow more time to prepare to avoid straining or crashing the systems in place at the time of peak demand.

However, she says, “States expected to face the hardest hit later in the year need to use their lead time well.” In addition, health experts point out, all relevant agencies (again, including medical employment recruiters) need to be proactive about marshalling their efforts. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb observed, “The states that are going to be affected last need to start husbanding resources now, because the feds could get tapped out … by some of these early states, particularly New York, which has absorbed a lot of federal resources.”

So for those job recruiters seeking to get sufficient numbers of healthcare workers in the right places at the right time, they’ll want to be focusing their marketing efforts on physicians and nurses who, essentially, meet these two criteria:

  • Willing and able to travel from where they are to wherever they’re needed most or projected to be needed most
  • Agreeable to temporary work, including the possibility that “temporary” turns into an unexpected extension in time, in order to meet the demands of the area or region in which they’re hired to work

The following case is an inspiring example of how this approach is working. In response to the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Greeley, Colorado, Banner Health (a non-profit healthcare system based in Phoenix, Arizona) flew 10 nurses there to serve a two-week assignment at the North Colorado Medical Center. At the time, Colorado had more than double the amount of identified cases as Arizona.

Lindsey Stewart, one of the registered nurses who went, said, “When I was asked, I didn’t hesitate. I want to help. I mean, you sign up to be a nurse to do stuff like this.”

Stewart urged nurses who aren’t currently working in the medical field, but who want to help, to reach out to travel agencies and medical facilities to help find them a place to work. In addition, of course, turning to job recruiters whose primary focus is finding employment for doctors and nurses would be an obvious resource. Because if they’re on their toes, they’ll know where the “hot spots”—and job opportunities—are located.