The talent market has never been more competitive. Gone are the days of an average transactional recruiting team that just moves through the motions. Those teams are losing top talent at every turn! The traditional process— multiple in-person interviews, meetings, and weeks of decision-making — wouldn’t work in these times. Talent acquisition is always a rapidly shifting field, where trends seem to pivot overnight in response to candidate preferences, the changing economy, and other unforeseen factors. Today in healthcare recruitment, we are driven by technology; with so much of our hiring virtual right now. With time being of the essence, it makes sense to leverage one-and-done interviews; that is, having the candidate partake in just one interview — to break the status quo of recruiting and hiring. Since our shift to a 100% virtual experience, the Duke Talent Acquisition team has completed a total of –


virtual chats inclusive of our first time events for laboratory professionals and respiratory therapists (3/12 to date)


virtual interviews unique candidate virtual interviews with a department/hiring manager (3/17 to date)

In response to COVID-19 staffing needs,

the ability to anticipate the needs of the business drastically increased. The Duke Recruitment team partnered with our DUSON and Watts schools of nursing and former staff (Duke RN alumni) network to seek out new sources of talent: new graduate recruitment for licensed pending roles, advanced practice student recruitment into clinical nursing roles for our high acuity service lines, retiree re-recruitment and student recruitment into un-licensed roles such as Respiratory Therapy Assistants, Patient Care Aid and Medical Assistants (non-certified). The Duke Talent Acquisition team has successfully onboarded - 


Patient Care Attendants

(DUSON and Watts nursing students)


PRN – RN COVID Response


PRN – RN Retiree




Professional Nursing Assistant

(summer externship program)


Respiratory Therapy Assistants

Now is the time for us to invest in how we can continue to improve our recruitment, selection and onboarding process. Prioritization is important — which means understanding that all jobs are not the same when it comes to sourcing, search, and the candidate experience.  Over the last 45 days, we’ve seen success in filling difficult positions in our DUH Neuro ICU, DRH Cath Lab, DRaH next New to the OR class is filled. In fact, from our March 12th RN hiring event to date, we’ve hired 283 external RN’s (new to Duke) to date! Just like our efforts to flatten the curve by staying home, we know we can find a way together to continue to flatten the curve to reduce agency/traveler spend and fill vacancies for critical roles across the health system. 

During these uncertain times, it’s important to be open and transparent when communicating with candidates. As a brand, we’ve adjusted our outreach. We are not relying on posting job ads as usual. For our critical fill clinical roles, we’ve added key phrases such as “COVID response” or “Hiring Now” and relevant hashtags when we promote our open positions and story sharing on social media major platforms - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn (DRaH Thank You Message). We acknowledge in these uncertain times, candidates might be worried about getting a job in the midst of a health-related crisis, so we are clear about the measures taken to protect our employees; click HERE  to be directed to our recruitment and hiring candidate frequently asked questions. To help address anxieties and deliver on a positive experience, we’re focusing on communicating the impact of COVID-19 on our hiring process clearly across many of the primary spots where candidates will interact with us, including our career site (Duke Careers and Duke Nursing), social media and day-to-day interactions with our recruiters. 


The COVID pandemic will eventually pass. We don’t know when, and we don’t know how long it will last. But we do know that recruitment has continued strong through this crisis. If anything, whenever this outbreak ends, we will have a compressed time frame to hire candidates and position ourselves for the next phase of growth in response to increased patient volume, new clinic openings, bed tower additions, and new complexities of our healthcare delivery system post-pandemic. The strategies and approaches we are considering include adjusting our workforce planning to enable more flexibility, and include exploring more part-time and per diem roles to meet hiring demands, seeking ways to simplify the recruitment process with the goal of lowering time-to-fill and getting people in place quickly to support critical functions is critical to our success.  Our focus is on building new talent funnels for future hiring by making strategic candidate connections and identifying experienced talent in our regional markets. We are tapping into our existing talent communities, meaning those who have already applied to a position or signed up for job alerts and updates from the Duke to find candidates who are invested in our vision, values and goals. We will continue to try new approaches and refining those proven to drive results. Today, everyone’s shared thoughts, ideas and strategies matter more than ever. Navigating this crisis and the growth of the health system to follow will require a different mindset and reframing of challenges into opportunities; our recruitment planning and efforts combined will outshine our competitors’ to attract the best candidates for Duke. 

A very special thank you to our Nursing and Patient Care team and our Duke Health Central team for all of their efforts, tenacity and “can do” spirit given these unprecedented times. I am confident that together, we will continue to implement innovative solutions that improve the hiring experience and overall results for Duke Health.