7 Key Differences Between Home Health Care & Hospital Recruitment

A Conversation with Paulette Poplin-Cook

I had the opportunity to speak with Paulette Poplin-Cook, Head of Recruitment for Infinity HomeCare, and she shared on the major differences between recruiting for home health versus recruiting for hospitals.

Chad Harrington
8 January 2016

Paulette Poplin-Cook | Image credit: Infinity HomeCare

Paulette Poplin-Cook | Image credit: Infinity HomeCare

Recruiting for 15 home health clinic locations across Florida is no walk in the park, even for someone like Paulette Poplin-Cook.

With over 16 years in recruitment, Paulette has much experience. She started in home health in New York, where she managed recruitment for a leading early intervention provider. She's also recruited for major health systems, where she recruited for hospitals.

This April will be two years since she came on board with Infinity to oversee recruitment.

So I asked her about the differences between recruiting for a hospital and recruiting for home health care. There are major differences in the hiring process, and knowing them could make or break the success of your next hire.

What’s your main goal as the head of recruitment for Infinity HomeCare?

“To hire top talent that is qualified, committed, and diverse to provide exceptional patient care.”

On their company as a whole

“Clinical excellence is what drives us. We have an awesome senior leadership and clinical team, and our clinical outcomes are impressive. My goal is to provide talent so that we can empower people for a better life.”

The Differences: Recruiting for Home Health & Hospitals

1. Candidate's previous experience should be diverse

“In home health, there is more of a challenge recruiting clinicians to work in the field. Greater emphasis is placed on hiring candidates with a home health background because of the level of autonomy required to provide care in a patient’s home. Experienced nurses and therapists who can work more independently due to their skill set will transition more successfully in home care (from my experience).

“Going into the home, you’re pretty much one-on-one with that patient, so we tend to require our home health nurses to have experience in this area.”

2. Home health clinicians can be harder to find

"In the hospital setting, there is a distinct difference in recruiting in that there’s more flexibility in hiring nurses with limited experience-depending on specialty: pediatrics, the ED, and women’s health, for example.

"Hospitals recruit new RN grads for their nurse residency programs that are specifically designed for the novice nurse. So, in that sense, the recruitment and hiring process [in hospitals] is not a difficult one [compared to recruiting RNs for home health]."

3. Clinicians who can perform independently will do well in home health

“Home Health is a competitive niche, and although we’re not able to hire new grads at this time, we are tapping into talent that have significant hospital, ALF, and SNF experience and provide the appropriate trainings.

"Working in the field is structured differently than an inpatient setting, so our patient care delivery has to be cognizant of that, while promoting clinical excellence.”

4. Working in the field is different

“Our multidisciplinary team is not typically all in one place, so patient care involves constant collaboration with field and office team members on and off site."

5. Look at a candidate’s total background

Two good questions to ask in recruitment, Poplin-cook says are these:

  • Have they done home health before?
  • Are there gaps in their employment? 

While gaps in employment may be a red flag, she mentioned, that's not necessarily a deal-breaker. She mentioned this caveat:

"A candidate working for short periods of time for a few home health agencies may just be a result of low census and not enough work. Or, an agency closing. So don’t be quick to assume they are a job hopper."

6.  New grads may not be ready for home health

"Although," she said, "we’re unable to hire new RN grads at this time, we hope to in the future."

New RN grads are not the ideal candidates for home health, she was saying. 

7. Specific types of background matter

"For those RN candidates who lack home health experience, consider those with a strong critical care or med-surg background."


Characteristics Poplin-Cook looks for in home health recruitment

This includes RNs, as well as allied health professionals:

  • Strong skill set
  • Clinically sound
  • Ability to thoroughly assess patients
  • Ability to deliver quality care
  • Demonstrates autonomy
  • Works well as part of a team on site and remotely

Poplin-Cook's Top Advice for Home Health Recruiting

R: What are your top pieces of advice for other recruiters in home health?

A. Collaboration. “To be successful, it takes a collaborative effort. Recruitment is not just about posting a position and waiting for a candidate to apply. You have to be proactive and not wait for talent to come to you. To hire the best we have to do the work. That’s extremely important.”

B. Building Relationships. “When I say that, I’m also referring to our internal hiring managers—gaining their trust and truly understanding what they are looking for.  What one manager is looking for in a candidate may not be the same for another manager."

C. Over Communicate. “In this field, being busy is an understatement. However, it’s important to frequently connect with your hiring leaders. Communicate the challenges, because you want to be as transparent as possible—help them see the big picture.”


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Chad Harrington is the Content Director at Relode, the human-powered job posting. He writes on all things hiring. Contact him through email. Follow Relode on Twitter for all blogs and company updates.