Online Program

Strategies to Recruit and Retain Public Health Nurses: Lessons Learned from New Mexico

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Amy Wilson, MPH, BSN, RN, APHN-BC, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health, Santa Fe, NM
Mark Williams, MBA, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health, Santa Fe, NM

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is a centralized health department responsible for assuring that essential public health and safety net services are available for people living in rural, frontier, tribal and border communities in New Mexico.  NMDOH has experienced challenges in recruiting and retaining nurses and other healthcare practitioners, which has impacted the provision of certain mission-critical services.  


NMDOH has established a recruitment and retention task force, led by the Chief Nurse in Public Health, to help fill mission-critical vacancies.  The task force has developed a strategy execution plan (SEP) to articulate the priorities, performance measures, expected outcomes and resources needed for success.  Selected action items include improved advertising of positions, adjustments to compensation and classification, creation of hiring practice efficiencies, use of referral incentives and the development of a more robust onboarding and mentoring process. The taskforce is composed of a cross section of stakeholders to ensure that the SEP is widely adopted and that quarterly milestones are met.  Anticipated challenges include significant nurse and other healthcare practitioner shortages, budget constraints, slow change processes and competing priorities among internal and external stakeholders.  


Success will be evaluated by examining vacancy and retention rates and dollars spent on contract staff to provide services.  


By October 2015, the task force will have collected three quarters of data and feedback to present initial lessons learned, conclusions and implications for public health leaders seeking to recruit and retain nurses and other healthcare practitioners in public health settings.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Identify 3 strategies to effectively recruit and retain public health nurses and other healthcare practitioners. Discuss the use of a strategy execution plan as a method to engage stakeholders, gain the support of leadership, implement strategies and to reach critical project goals.

Keyword(s): Workforce, Nurses/Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the Chief Nurse in Public Health at the New Mexico Department of Health since 2012. I was appointed to lead the task force I will be presenting about by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary of Health in New Mexico. I have been a nurse for 20 years and am Board Certified as a Public Health Nurse. I have experience in leading complicated projects and presenting my work in continuing education sessions.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.