Innovating recruitment through firsthand experiences

Innovating recruitment through firsthand experiences

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Remo Zaccagna, EMC Inc. | Published: July 2, 2024

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that was certainly the case for a novel approach taken by Emergency Medical Care Inc. (EMC), a Medavie company that manages and operates ground and air ambulance services in Nova Scotia, as well as 811 Telecare.

Faced with a staffing crunch that was being felt throughout the healthcare industry across the country—a shortage that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—EMC identified a gap in their recruitment strategy and immediately got to work at rectifying it.

The upshot of those efforts came nearly two years ago when EMC unveiled a new role within their HR team: a dedicated paramedic recruiter. While using a professional-to-professional recruitment strategy is nothing new, particularly amongst military and first responder organizations, it is a role not often seen within agencies like EMC that provide emergency medical services.

Though the approach is still in its relative infancy, it has proven successful so far. “Having the paramedic recruiter tell the story and speak to their own profession has really made a difference in inspiring people to take up the career,” says Sara Suzuki, Manager of Recruitment and Retention at EMC. “It was just something that the HR team at the time really just couldn’t do themselves. It meant more coming from the actual professional.”

Doug Allen has been a paramedic for more than two decades. When an opening to work as a paramedic recruiter popped up, he jumped at the chance.

For the last 18 months, Allen, who still works one day a week on the ambulance, has travelled across the Maritimes, speaking to people of all ages at high schools, universities, colleges, job fairs, and employment agencies.

“I think it’s a great way to get out to people and let their first contact with a paramedic not be in an emergency situation,” Allen says, adding that he tries to not make the job seem as intimidating or daunting as it may appear on the surface.

“I find people really engage well when you bring part of the job with you. I bring materials with me, like pieces of medical equipment from the truck, so I can demonstrate for people. It educates people on what the job entails and also gives them a bit of hands-on experience. It really helps people click in with the idea that ‘hey, this is something I can do.’”

Suzuki says she’s not surprised that this professional-to-professional approach is resonating with people. “Because he does it, lives it, and breathes it every day, it comes across as very honest and sincere,” she says, adding that this approach allows the paramedic to demonstrate the clinical and technical aspects of the job. “If a recruiter tries to portray what the paramedic role looks like, it’s really second-hand knowledge of what a paramedic may tell us.”

That success is backed up by hard data. Over the last year, Suzuki has noticed an uptick in applications from candidates who cite their source as being from the recruiter contact.

Anecdotally, Allen says he has also begun noticing students doing ride time in Nova Scotia that he saw in schools in Moncton or students at the paramedic schools who he recognized from his high school visits. “It makes me feel incredibly proud and fulfilled to see somebody take that step, knowing that I may have had a small part in their career choice,” he says.

The role has been refined and tweaked since it was first introduced, but Suzuki says the team has learned some important lessons that can be applied to other organizations looking at implementing a similar approach.

One of those key takeaways is that having a professional within the recruiting role offers transparency into that profession, removes barriers, and allows candidates to do a deep dive into learning about the job and day-to-day activities of the role.

“Doug is able to highlight the positive aspects of the role and share personal details about how he connects to the profession, which has in turn inspired others and resonated with candidates,” Suzuki says. “He has also been able to offer advice on the difficult aspects of the role and how to be prepared for that. After speaking with Doug, candidates have a true understanding of what taking this path would look like, which allows them to make an informed decision on whether or not this is the career for them.”

Another practice that Suzuki says organizations should consider is ensuring that the professional recruiter not focus exclusively on recruitment. “Don’t take the person out of their profession,” she says, noting that Allen still works regular shifts on the ambulance, which helps him in his recruiting role. “I’ve seen it in the past where professionals have left their profession to just focus on recruitment. I find that doesn’t work as well because they’re not as closely connected to the day-to-day of their profession.”

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< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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