Setting her sights on nurses
January 23, 2006 - Theresa Graves can spot talent.
For the past 16 years, she has used her aptitude to hire some of the brightest computer engineers and nurses around.
Now, she is Fremont-Rideout Health Group's new nurse recruiter for the medical group, which operates two hospitals in Marysville-Yuba City and related facilities and services such as an outpatient surgery clinic, assisted-living facility, hospice and home-health services.
Graves began working with recruiters when she was 16 years old, as a receptionist at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento. During the dot-com boom of the 1990s, she hired software designers for technology firms.
“I want to make some sort of difference. Nurses make a difference in people's lives. As a recruiter, I have a little piece of that,” Graves said.
She comes to Fremont-Rideout from Kaiser in Sacramento, where she recruited for four years.
Graves said there is one big similarity between hiring nurses now and engineers during the dot-com boom.
“They're both in high demand. Everyone is vying to get the best nurses to their hospital,” she said.
Graves, who has a degree in communications from San Jose State University, is charged with enticing the best nurses to Fremont-Rideout at a time when nurses are in high demand.
By 2030, the state could be short as many as 122,000 qualified nurses, according to a University of California, San Francisco, study.
Though Fremont-Rideout nurses are paid as much as the average nurse statewide, Fremont-Rideout has a turnover rate of 16 percent, according to Mike Wiltermood Fremont-Rideout's chief operating officer.
A state law implemented two years ago is exacerbating the shortage, say the law's critics. The law mandates there be at least one nurse for every four to six patients, depending on the type of ward.
What's a recruiter to do? Hire from within. Graves figures that if nurses from outside the Mid-Valley are easily lured away from the area by city life and other perks, she will draw from a pool of licensed vocational nurses who are already settled in the area.
Graves said the plan came about at about the time she was hired, four months ago. It is up to her to execute it.
“That's one of the reasons I took this opportunity,” she said of her new job. “There's no quick fix. We're becoming pioneers in using resources that are already here.”
Graves said Fremont-Rideout has also stopped its foreign-nurse recruitment program because it proved too expensive.
She said she also wants to work more closely with Yuba College to keep Yuba-Sutter vocational talent in the area.
“I think I made a really great choice,” Graves said of her new job. “There's a feeling of family here. I like that a lot.”
Reporter Eve Hightower can be reached at 749-4724. E-mail her at email@example.com.