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Adventist HealthCare


Using reference checking as an ally in the race to find great nurses

The Goal

Here’s an ambitious goal for your first day on the job: hire 37 nurse graduates and 13 nurse externs in 60 days. Oh, and make sure they are team players, enthusiastic, empathetic, and compassionate. In other words, find really great nurses.

The Challenge

That was the tall order handed to their recruiter for the nurse residency/extern programs at Adventist HealthCare. The challenge was compounded by the fact that some of the hospital’s HR systems were not very user-friendly for large applicant volumes.

The nurse recruiter felt she was hired two months too late; and everything was behind schedule!

The good news was that there was no shortage of candidates, with almost 200 applying for the 50 positions.

How We Helped

Fortunately, one of the hospital’s hiring solutions – SkillSurvey Reference – was put in place. Their new lead nurse recruiter had used it often in her previous organization and was very familiar with its job specific surveys for reference checking candidates. She knew she had an ally in her corner.

“If I didn’t have SkillSurvey Reference, I wouldn’t have been able to meet this challenge. It’s a reliable solution that is automated and mobile friendly, and gives me the feedback I need to understand how a candidate will be as a nurse.”

Nurse Recruiter

She did an initial screen of the applicants. Next, she asked for their resumes and cover letters. Candidates who showed potential were asked to complete the Pre-Hire 360 reference feedback process. The feedback gave their nurse recruiter and the hospital’s director of education insight into candidates, enabling them to have more focus for the interview pool and ask better questions of the candidates who seemed to be “the best of the best”.

“My job is to select the very best candidates from a large applicant pool who will contribute to the success of the nurse residency program and nursing externship. You can interview people all day long, but if you don’t have feedback about their past behavior, you’re only getting 50 percent of the picture. I love SkillSurvey Reference because it fills in the gap,” said the nurse recruiter.

That gap is often filled with rich feedback on essential critical skills, e.g. attitude, compassion, understanding, empathy, patient satisfaction, that make the difference between a great nurse and a good one. Teachers, instructors, and even employers outside the hospital profession can paint a real picture of a graduate’s behaviors.

The recruiter recalled, “Even feedback from when a graduate was a waiter or coffee shop barista tells us about their customer service aptitude, and their ability to handle conflict. These are important critical skills that we couldn’t capture without SkillSurvey Reference.”

The questions are “spot on”, says the nurse recruiter who finds the feedback from references who use the confidential process to be trustworthy and reliable. The automated solution will remain an invaluable piece of the hiring equation going forward.

“We can verify GPAs and interview all day long. What I really want to know is how someone will interact with patients. SkillSurvey Reference provides a complete picture of who a candidate really is and who they have been. I would not want to do this job without it.”

Nurse Recruiter, Nurse Residency/Extern Programs

Adventist HealthCare

The Results


Filled 50 positions in Nurse Residency/Extern programs with great nurses within 60 days


Received feedback from 78%
of references within 2 days


On average, received feedback from
4.4 references per candidate

About Adventist

Adventist HealthCare, based in Gaithersburg, Md., is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization of dedicated professionals who work together each day to provide excellent wellness, disease management and health-care services to the community. Its integrated, health-care delivery network includes five nationally accredited, acute-care and specialty hospitals, mental health services and home health agencies, serving the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and northwestern New Jersey. A number of its hospitals are recognized nationally for the high-quality care provided to patients.

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