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Packages foster new relationships for NY hospital
There are 5,801 hospitals in the United States, according to the American Hospital Association. There also are some 550 colleges of nursing. How is a hospital to differentiate itself from the other 5,800 and make sure all those colleges’ career counselors know about it? Or is at least thought of first by the nursing programs in the hospital’s geographic area?
New York Presbyterian Hospital, a 2,369-bed hospital with more than 12,600 employees in New York City, came up with a unique way to get its name and message out: care packages addressed to career counselors at 50 nursing programs in the Northeast. The result has been new relationships with some of the schools, invitations to job fairs, and the chance to give solo presentations about the facility to students at others.
When the next round of graduations happens in May and June, there undoubtedly will be new hires related to the effort, says Peg Brubaker, vice president of Human Resources Support Services at the hospital.
Brubaker says she came up with the idea in part as a way to get rid of some of the freebies that were piling up in her office. "This wasn’t something we had a budget for," she says. At a meeting about college recruitment, Brubaker brought up the idea of packaging up all the stuff in her office and sending out to the schools with which New York Presbyterian didn’t have relationships on the Northeast corridor.
She wrote a personalized letter to the career counselors at 50 programs with which the hospital didn’t have a relationship already. In the letter, Brubaker told them about the hospital, emphasizing many of the positive things that were going on — for instance, that it was growing, profitable, expanding its lines of business, and consistently moving up the rankings of top hospitals as listed annually in US News and World Report. "I wanted to let them know that this is an exciting time for us, an exciting place to be." Then she included the letter in a package of giveaways being stored in her office from her office:
• Hospital and nurse recruitment brochures. When Columbia Presbyterian and New York Weill Cornell hospitals merged, senior management took a look at the advertising philosophy of both and came up with some great new literature. Copies of the 2001 annual report, which focused on the burn unit, also were included.
• Visual materials. Brubaker had some extra copies of a poster about nurses that was part of post-9/11 "Hospital Heroes" campaign. She also included a copy of a video that was made of some of the letters written to patients in the hospital’s burn unit after the Sept. 11 attacks.
• Little extras. Each package also included a T-shirt that had been done for the hospital’s Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations survey with the tag line "Where the Best Belong," a tote bag with the same wording, a New York City guide book, and a copy of the book Love Greg and Lauren about Lauren Manning, a Sept. 11 survivor who recovered from her burns at New York Presbyterian.
The boxes were sealed up and sent out. "I figured it would take about two to three weeks for them to work their way through our mail system and get where they were going," Brubaker says. After that period, she planned on making follow up calls. "But I didn’t have to make any calls. They all called us."
In a couple of instances, the packages didn’t get to the nursing school’s career person, but ended up in the college’s general career office. "But that ended up benefiting us, too. They called us and asked if they could use it for allied health profession candidates. That helped us to develop some good new relationships for areas outside of nursing where we may have needs."
The reactions were uniformly positive, Brubaker says. "We were afraid of being considered too brash. But they loved it."
The hospital ended up being invited to some career fairs they didn’t know about, and in a couple of places, were asked to come in and talk to students in a nonjob fair setting. "That’s great because we have absolutely no competition in a situation like that," says Brubaker.
While the focus was on the Northeast corridor, two packages were sent outside the area — to Michigan and Illinois, both of which sent acknowledgements right away. Still, Brubaker is unsure if she’s going to venture that far out the next time she does this. "I want to see if we get any hires out of it first. I don’t want to start a relationship I can’t follow up on."
In the meantime, Brubaker is already stockpiling items for the next round of care packages and biding her time until next month, when she’ll know just how successful the project was.
Peg Brubaker, Vice President of Human Resources Support Services, New York Presbyterian Hospital, 525 E. 68th St., Box 198, New York, NY 10021. Telephone: (212) 297-3005.