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Finding Mr. or Ms. Right

Too often, we settle on Mr. or Ms. Right Now when it comes to hiring nurses.  This is especially of the Director of Nursing position because we are compelled to have a DON who meets requirements and to notify CMS and most states if the position is vacant and it should never be vacant for any length of time.

Ideally, most agencies have an RN already groomed for the position in their team leader positions.  For these agencies, the burden then goes to hiring the right team leaders or whatever title your agency calls these alternate RN’s in the office.

Sadly, experience only goes so far in home health.  It all depends on where the employee candidate was employed in the past.  My suggestion is that when you hire any Registered Nurse for the office, you hire them with the awareness that they may be your director one day.  After you determine that they meet al the paper qualifications, call them back in for a more in depth interview and ask some hard questions.

  1. What do you feel the biggest challenge to field nurses is at this time?
  2. If I told you that our average case mix weight is less than 1.0, what would concern  you?
  3. If the average case mix weight was 1.9, would you be concerned?
  4. Describe your idea of quality management?  What tasks do you feel are most important?
  5. In your opinion, which is more important?  Getting paperwork in on time or getting it correct?
  6. Several nurses have threatened to quit because they believe they are not paid as much as your competitor pays their nurses.  What do you do?
  7. Your patient has diabetes and arthritis.  Which is the best code to use?
  8. What are three reasons that you might get in touch with the administrator over the weekend?
  9. Describe your computer skills.   Do you use the computer only for work?  Do you enjoy social websites?  Do you use the computer a lot at home?
  10. What do you think a good average number of visits per episode should be?

There are no right or wrong answers and if a candidate is unfamiliar with the area discussed, it should not automatically disqualify them.  If you are a legitimate agency, the response to number 7 is that the best code for the patient is the one that describes the patient’s condition.  Number 8 will give you an idea of how comfortable the nurses is in taking responsibility.

The most important thing when hiring a nurse isn’t that she know all the answers.  The important thing is that you are fully aware of where her shortcomings are and that the candidate is willing to learn.   These questions will also give you an idea of the character and business sense of the potential candidate.

Agencies who use this level of scrutiny when filling all RN positions in the office are generally able to transition a current nurse into the DON position in the event of an sudden event.  This has happened to my clients numerous times over the years.  Losing a DON suddenly due to an accident or an abrupt termination is painful but it doesn’t have to be devastating if you have someone ready to assume the position.

It is so very difficult to work short handed.  It is even more difficult to work when one or more of your RN’s is not able to perform.  That’s when both clinical and financial health take a huge hit. Take the time to hire the right people.  Trust me.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Sue Hull #

    I think one of the signs of a good leader is that the the leader is preparing someone to replace her/himself. The leader who is compelled to make her/himself irreplaceable and indispensible is not doing the company a favor.

    I liked your list of questions. They reveal a lot!

    April 16, 2012

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