Know a health-care worker who wants to work in N.B.? It could put money in your pocket

A New Brunswick health agency is asking the public for help with recruitment — and is willing to pay for it.

The Horizon Referral Reward program currently offers $1,000 to individuals who successfully refer a registered nurse. The reward doubles if the RN is hired to work in an ICU or ER.

Recommendations are possible on-line by residents of New Brunswick, a Horizon Health employee or physician, or an international student studying in the province.

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People who refer an RN who is hired will receive half of the money immediately and the other half after the RN has been employed by Horizon for 12 months.

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Kerry Kennedy, regional director of talent acquisition at Horizon Health Network, said the program is about shared responsibility.

“Recruitment is an operation in its own right. We all own them,” she said. “So what better way to engage our communities by understanding that they are part of that success when they relate to it.”

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According to Kennedy, the program has resulted in the hiring of 15 nurses since June. A further 24 suitable recommendations are currently being processed.

“We didn’t expect it to generate hundreds, but we expected it would change the conversation that we all own the recruiting and retention,” she said.

Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, said the province needs to focus on staff retention in addition to innovative recruitment efforts. (Tori Weldon)

The program only accepts referrals for Registered Nurse Class A positions. But the idea is to eventually include a variety of medical nursing professions.

Kennedy said the criteria for the program are very specific.

RNs may be recommended for a reward if they have not been employed in the New Brunswick public system in the past year. These include a regional health agency, the New Brunswick government, or a nursing home.

Senior Bachelor of Nursing students may be recommended, but they must not have completed a student internship at Horizon in the past 12 months.

“We’re not looking for someone to work with any of our other New Brunswick partners. This is really about someone who meets the criteria and wants to come to New Brunswick,” she said.

Candidates continue to go through all the regular steps of the hiring process.

All recruitment efforts are appreciated

The head of the province’s nurses’ union said innovative recruitment efforts were essential to address the “huge shortage” of health workers.

“Any time we focus on initiatives to potentially attract more nurses to work in New Brunswick, I think it’s a positive move not just for the healthcare system, but for New Brunswick in general,” said Paula Doucet .

While applauding Horizon’s recruiting efforts, Doucet said further discussions about employee retention are needed.

“We can recruit as many new people into the system as we can, but if you don’t have the expertise and experience of senior staff to really guide them, it becomes a bigger struggle,” she said. “We need to talk about how to keep our employees who are close by.”

She said nurses are “everywhere on the brink of burnout,” prompting many to quit the profession, take early retirement, or work short-time.

dr Mark MacMillan, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, said robust recruitment strategies are essential.

“We are currently in the midst of the human health resources crisis and recruitment is a very important component in trying to get out of this crisis,” he said.

MacMillan said the province is an attractive place to live and work for health professionals.

“There are many benefits of working in New Brunswick,” he said. “We have wonderful colleagues and away from work you have a wonderful place to live with reasonable housing costs and a beautiful province to explore.”

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