Diversity in Nursing: How Skills-Based Hiring Can Help

You have probably heard that supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — full representation of various groups, conditions that promote the best performance for everyone, and celebrating different approaches — is a good idea. Diversity is also good business and creates rich, adaptable cultures that use innovative approaches. DEI in nursing brings these benefits to healthcare organizations and leads to better care.

In nursing, diversity is even more important than in most industries. Nurses encounter diverse patients daily. To make meaningful connections, they must appreciate and understand many ways of thinking. A diverse nursing workforce will naturally have a more variety of thoughts and attitudes than a homogenous workforce.

Patients appreciate diversity in nursing, too. Imagine the comfort you would feel as a patient from an underrepresented group if you were cared for by a nurse from a shared background during a frightening hospitalization.

Getting started: Promote a diverse candidate pool

DEI in nursing recruitment means removing bias from the hiring process. Rather than deciding who to hire based on personal opinions, choose the best candidates based on their merit and skills.

Start by broadening your candidate pool. At Nurse.com, our content 80% of the working nurses in the United States, making it a great place to find diverse candidates.

Job postings

Check your job postings for language that would discourage a nurse from a particular group from applying. Watch out for gender-specific language and discouraging lists of job requirements. List necessary qualifications and leave out tasks for which you can offer training, such as how to use a particular piece of technology or perform a procedure.

Also, check where you are posting your jobs. Are you advertising on inclusive, accessible websites? Our platform partners with UserWay to help nurses of all abilities participate.

Interview and screening questions

Do you ask all candidates the same questions? If you don’t, you may not be able to fairly compare candidates. Examine how you choose and ask questions. Is there anything that could make a candidate from a different background uncomfortable?

Company culture

Has your organization created a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture? If not, hiring diverse candidates as a shortcut to creating a diverse workforce will probably not be successful.

If you have a culture grounded in DEI, great! You can help candidates feel welcome by communicating the inclusiveness of your company. To maintain that culture, make sure all new hires will support it, too.

Some questions you could ask include:

  • What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?
  • What would you do to be inclusive and welcoming in your daily work?
  • Tell me about a time you connected with a patient who had a different background than you.

Diversify your recruitment team

Some companies report that a diverse hiring panel and interviewing team can lead to more diversity in applicants. It makes sense. All humans have unconscious bias. The more variety in your group, the more biases will be diluted out.

Partner with diverse organizations to recruit and advance careers

Add diverse candidates to your pool by working with groups that support nurses with diverse backgrounds and abilities. These might be professional groups or nursing school programs. By reaching out to these organizations, you may find innovative ways to bring in new talent. Here are a few examples:

Professional nursing organizations:

Nursing schools:

How about welcoming nurses from other countries?

Check out:

When you recruit from and partner with diverse organizations, you open the door to opportunities for their members.

Offer nurse externship programs, extra training, or career advancement coaching to help nurses reach their full potential despite disadvantaged backgrounds. Don’t overlook nurses with physical disabilities: with some accommodations, they can be excellent additions to your team. Nurses with disabilities may also have the capacity to connect with patients going through similar struggles in a way no one else can.

In today’s short-staffed environment, helping candidates overcome barriers to becoming great nurses is a win-win.nurse recruitment

Following through: Reducing bias in screening and hiring

Recruiting without bias is hard. Research confirms that bias is a universal human trait. We build bias every day as we experience the world.

Bias can be conscious or unconscious. It is any conclusion you jump to about a person and may be based on many factors, including race, sex, culture, location, education, or religion. Bias isn’t always obvious. For instance, if a friend or family member told you that people with motorcycles were “bad news,” and you unconsciously judge someone who drives a motorcycle, that is bias as well.

Another subtle example is the psychological concept of transference — reacting to someone in a certain way because they look similar to someone you know. A nurse candidate who reminds you of your mother is not your mother. But you may unconsciously assume that she will struggle with learning new technology if your mother does.

Ask yourself where bias might be getting in the way. What do you screen for when looking for candidates? For example, if you tend to look for candidates who are experienced, but not too experienced, you may have an age-based bias.

Bias has no place in the hiring process, but the good news is there are ways to reduce its impact.

Skills-based recruiting

Filtering candidates based on skills takes out bias entirely. By assessing nurses based on continuing education completions, our platform sources and screens the best-fitting candidates, free of the influence of unconscious biases.

Once candidates are in the door, it’s important to keep your personal bias to a minimum throughout the hiring process. Consider blind resumes and interviews that don’t reveal information like age, sex, location, and school.

Recruiting for diversity is not about checking a box. It is about building teams of the best-fitting candidates regardless of background. With skills-based hiring, you can remove assumptions and bias, see people for who they are, and celebrate different approaches to life.

For more information on recruiting through our skills-based talent marketplace or to build your custom talent acquisition solution package, contact us today.