How to Effectively and Creatively Generate a Talent Pipeline


By Jennifer Melham 

Workforce challenges continue to be an obstacle for healthcare facilities to overcome. Staffing shortages among nurses and other clinicians, high turnover rates, early retirement, and even declining nursing school applicants have shown us how important it is for hospitals to upgrade their recruitment strategy and find creative ways to grow their healthcare talent pipeline, through academic engagement. 

“There is a gap between what academic institutions could onboard and the number of clinical sites available,” says Medical Solutions’ Chief Nursing Officer Patti Artley. “We need to begin earlier to engage students in healthcare careers”  

She highlights two programs: college and high school partnerships and non-nursing scholarships or a “pay to learn” program. Partnering with our comprehensive healthcare talent ecosystem is key to helping your organization navigate these programs.  

College and High School Partnerships 

Partnering with schools in the area is a strategic method for nurturing young nursing talent to build a local workforce. Organizations interested in doing this should begin by engaging with community colleges and high schools to discuss what a partnership would look like.  

It can include creating apprenticeships for students 16 and older that allow them to work in hospitals while taking classes to become CNAs or gain automatic admission into the hospital’s nursing program. Programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and 21st Century After-school programs are also great resources to help build and fund these partnerships at the high school level.  Many community colleges are either offering this or pursuing these options today.  

Nursing programs should assess their current dual credit offerings or create intentional offerings that support the RN curriculum and identify innovative ways to introduce required nursing courses into high schools. They can work with these schools to create programs like the Medical Science Academy (MSA), exposing students to hospital settings and allowing them to get on-the-job training while earning class credit.  

Hospital systems could foster dialogue with the schools they partner with on how to support this initiative best. When financial assistance is needed, hospitals can create programs that offer post-grad job opportunities that help students pay off loans. Organizations could also partner with guidance counselors, who are crucial in selecting students best suited for the program.  

A successful college or high school partnership will achieve four things; increase your nursing pipeline, create college partnerships for the future, help you recruit a local workforce, and decrease your reliance on travel nursing.  

Non-Nursing Scholarships and Pay-to-Learn Models 

There’s an opportunity to recognize top talent and support your hospital system’s current care team members (CTM) who may desire to be a nurse but cannot afford that opportunity. More recently, successful healthcare organizations are identifying scholarships that they can support and adopting pay-to-learn models to recognize their own team members.  

The pay-to-learn model can look like partnering with your local community college to increase the nursing class size by 8-10 students to support your cohort of scholarship recipients. With this model, CTMs would work with your healthcare organization in a part-time tech role while you pay a full-time rate and benefits or pay for their clinical time on the units. The employee will sign a three- or four-year post-graduation commitment in return for full-time pay and benefits. You’ll want to work with your human resources and legal departments to implement this successfully.  

Your HR contact will partner with you and the cohort to ensure adequate communication and that no barriers are present, while your legal contact will develop a contract for employment following the students’ graduation. With these scholarships or by utilizing a pay-to-learn model, hospitals can successfully invest in and increase engagement with their team, develop lifelong employees and a local workforce, improve their nursing vacancy rate, and decrease traveler spending.  

Don’t wait any longer to strengthen your healthcare workforce and build a pipeline. Contact Medical Solutions to start a conversation on how to revolutionize your staffing and recruitment strategies.  

Jennifer Melham is a content specialist with Medical Solutions.