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3 top tips for recruiting nurses in healthcare fieldwork

Recruiting nurses for healthcare fieldwork can be something of a tricky task. Despite there being a total of 377,000 nurses in NHS England, issues such as workloads and time restraints can result in more resistance to market research invitations than we have seen in the past. Added to geographical limitations that can naturally occur with focus groups or face to face interviews and of course the difficulty of recruiting specialist nurses in rare therapy areas, and it’s easy to see why recruiting nurses can be a challenge for even the most competent market research recruitment team. So, what can you do to make recruitment easier? Read on for our top tips;

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  1. Location, location, location

Traditionally Manchester, Birmingham and London were the most popular areas for the successful recruitment of nurses. However, these areas are now becoming over-researched and researchers are often seeing the same participants, resulting in respondent fatigue and lower quality insights. As a result, an increasing amount of researchers are looking to other smaller cities such as Bristol to recruit nurses – however, of course there are less nurses available, which can make it harder still to recruit. That’s why it’s important to be realistic in your goals when it comes to recruitment in smaller cities.  Another route to help broaden the locations you research in is to utilise new technologies. Online qualitative methodologies are growing in popularity and webcam interviewing or market research online communities can be useful alternatives that help you remove the geographical restrictions and broaden your reach outside of key cities.

  1. Have the right process in place

When conducting healthcare fieldwork with nurses, you must always remember that thanks to their demanding jobs their time is spread very thinly – so as the researcher, it’s your job to make things as easy as possible for them. That means providing all the necessary information upfront and making any pre-tasks as short and sweet as possible. If you are asking the nurse to video record information after meeting with their patients, be realistic and ask for one or two minute recordings as opposed to lengthy, detailed 10-minute sessions. You also need to make sure the timing of your interviews or focus groups are realistic. Consider the fact that nurses will have clinics to attend that are likely to run over so schedule any face to face interviews or focus groups in the evening – as a result you may want to consider providing a travel incentive or organizing a taxi if the group isn’t going to finish until late.

Healthcare Fieldwork

Following on from this make sure that you have a solid process in place when confirming participants for the research – this will help eradicate the number of drop-outs and no-shows during the research. We would recommend confirming respondents at three points – at the point of recruitment, a week before the research and the day before(even on the day as well if it’s an evening group as you will need as much time as possible to replace the respondent if they can no longer make it).

  1. The issue of incentives

In most market research projects it is normal for respondents to receive some sort of incentive or gesture to say thank you for giving up their time to take part in the study. But the amount of incentive can be difficult to get right – if it is too low then participants are less likely to take part, whereas if the amount is too high you could potentially break anti-bribery clauses. All too often with nurses we see a blanket honorarium offered – but nurses are banded according to the experience and in order to offer the right amount, we suggest being as specific as possible in what  you are looking for at the beginning of your study. If you are looking for a Band 8 Senior Manager within the nursing staff, for example, perhaps consider providing them with a higher honorarium than a Band 5 Staff Nurse. The level of nurse you are looking for is often dictated by your need for a prescribing nurse vs a non-prescribing nurse.

You’ll also need to consider the therapy area: nurses working with patients with rare diseases will be harder to come across and will therefore require a higher incentive.  It’s worth considering these elements early in your brief as it will affect your budget, time and sample feasibility.

Recruiting nurses can be complex and there are a number of challenges to consider. One of the best places to start when building your brief is to start is looking at the prevalence of Nurses within the therapy area you are researching to see what’s accessible. We’ve built a series of guides that help to understand therapy areas and the respondent landscape.