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Case Study: Hiring During Nationwide Shortages & Budget Cuts

How relode helped a healthcare organization recruit and hire medical staff amid candidate shortages and state budget cuts.

With healthcare staffing shortages rocking the nation, providers, healthcare workers, and patients are all feeling the brunt. Worse, budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this uphill battle.

Many correctional facilities throughout the US rely on healthcare providers to staff their locations and distribute care to adult and juvenile offenders.

Though this situation comes with many unique staffing challenges, they’re not very different from the obstacles faced by many other types of healthcare providers searching for physicians, nurses, and medical staff.

So in this case study, we’ll explore how Relode helped one of our clients overcome these hiring difficulties and drive real progress for their team.

You’ll learn that our proven success navigating these complex staffing roadblocks uniquely equips our network of recruiters to handle your healthcare hiring challenges with the same understanding, attention to detail, and finesse.

Meet our client: a correctional managed healthcare provider 👋

The correctional healthcare industry started in the early 1980s, just after the US Supreme Court ruled that ignoring inmates’ health needs was an “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain” in 1976.

Public medical schools and healthcare providers partner up to offer healthcare services to inmates as part of the correctional managed health care (CMHC) program. These responsibilities include [*]:

  • developing a managed healthcare plan that reduces costs for state and taxpayers.
  • hiring and managing a network of physicians and hospitals to serve inmates.
  • initiating a competitive bidding process for contracts with medical care providers for services public medical schools cannot provide.

The goal is to give inmates the most efficient and value-driven care possible.

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Our client manages healthcare for more than 100 adult and juvenile correctional facilities in their state. They offer medical, dental, mental, and other health services to over 80% of the state’s inmate population, caring for nearly 140,000 patients.

Their success in jails, state prisons, juvenile detention centers, and federal prisons comes down to innovative programs and creative solutions in correctional healthcare.

Unfortunately, state budget cuts, hiring challenges, and unforeseen events like a global pandemic can all jeopardize their ability to meet their contractual obligations. And that means inmate health would suffer too.

Hiring challenges that keep correctional healthcare providers up at night

Correctional facilities are notoriously challenging to staff. This type of setting can negatively impact how teams recruit and retain healthcare professionals.

According to one study, there’s an average of 300 vacancies in prison staff each year [*]. And a staggering 25% of nursing roles are routinely left unstaffed [*].

Inadequate healthcare staffing in the correctional environment often happens because:

  • the work environment is less desirable - they are usually less up-to-date facilities and are further out of town
  • state budget cuts hamper competitive salaries - with how competitive the healthcare labor market is this makes attracting talent hard
  • the higher risk of burnout raises turnover rates - each healthcare professional has a lot of patients to care for typically 25+ inmates per professional
  • higher exposure risks to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases - due to the tight quarters at a correctional facility the risk of spreading any virus or bacteria increases.

For those reasons recruiting and hiring them became a task they needed expert help with.

How our client leveraged Relode to recruit top healthcare professionals 🌟

Industry research shows “well-run, forward-thinking prison healthcare systems are vital to state aims of providing care to incarcerated individuals, protecting communities, strengthening public health, and spending money wisely [*].”

Like many healthcare providers, our client believed optimizing recruiting and hiring would help them achieve all those goals. But they knew they couldn’t take on this monumental task entirely in-house.

So our client decided to turn to the largest network of independent recruits on the planet for help.

In search of locum and contract healthcare pros

As we just learned, filling prisons with full-time staff is difficult due to many reasons. So correctional healthcare providers heavily rely on recruiting agencies to help fill in staffing gaps.


We began as our client’s exclusive partner for locum hiring, placing over 95% of their current locums. Further, it only took an average of 16 days for locum hires to start their first shifts after they were submitted to our client for interviews.

This exclusivity and success on the locum side led to more recent opportunities to grow together on a larger scale. And much of that success has to do with the Relode contract hiring model and our amazing network of independent recruiters.

How relode contract hiring works

Contract hiring takes a massive burden off the shoulders of strapped hiring teams.

With this option, Relode actually performs all the recruiting, hiring, onboarding, shift management, and payment of contract healthcare professionals. We get people ready to work their first shifts ASAP, which is especially crucial for healthcare providers in need.

We hired contract employees just 13 days after broadcasting the positions (on average). Then new contract hires started their first shifts just two weeks later (on average).

The secret to our hiring success: our community of specialized recruiters

Our client then needed help recruiting nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, technicians, and therapy & rehabilitation professionals for 55 locations.

We broadcasted 456 of their highest need positions on the Relode platform, tapping into the community of independent recruiters and the magic that results from activating their diverse candidate networks.

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Here’s how it works:

First, we start with a network of professional and independent recruiters

The Relode recruiter community includes both full-time and par-time recruiters who know what makes a great hire in their various recruiting specialities. This makes our community uniquely positioned to find perfect-fit candidates.

In the case of healthcare recruiting, specifically, the best way to hire a nurse is for another nurse to refer them. So Relode incentivizes them to do so.

We have had over 350 recruiters submit qualified talent for this client. And activating their social networks proved quite fruitful.

The magic of activating candidates networks

Let’s say a recruiter finds Nurse Nancy, an ideal fit for an open role. They can then activate Nurse Nancy for additional referrals of any friends or colleagues she'd like to work with or recommend for the same or other roles. Nurse Nancy then refers Nurse Bob and Nurse Kelly.

As a result of this domino-like referral network, the Relode recruiters submitted close to 400 qualified candidates to our client in just 11.3 days (on average) of each new position opening.

Here’s what’s even more impressive: 82% of these submitted candidates were interviewed, and 93% were hired.

That’s the power of activating specialized candidate networks in recruiting.

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Venturing into permanent positions, we broadcast 47 roles and made 19 hires so far (40%). Plus, some of the contract and locum talent that we've placed for our client will convert to full-time hires, helping them fill their staffing shortage in the short- and long-term.

Our recruiters are continuing to build on these wins to the delight of our client. With our help, they’ve been able to provide high-quality healthcare to vulnerable inmate populations and keep up with rising demands amidst staff shortages and budget cuts.

Recruiter community + innovation = cost-effective success

According to our client, they love that Relode “provides transparent pricing, unlike other agencies” they’ve worked with in the past. And Relode’s hiring success comes at a fraction of the price those big recruiting agencies charge.

We're able to offer these savings thanks to the innovation of activating our recruiters’ candidate networks. Essentially, we eliminate the middleman “staffing agency” and connect clients in need of talent with recruiters who have networks of talent.

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Many of our clients prefer to work with the fewest number of staffing partners possible. With Relode, our clients get a vast network of recruiters working on their talent acquisition needs all over the country.

The result? Our clients score a stress-free way to hire expertly-curated candidates and save money doing so.

Let’s solve your hiring challenges.

You’ve seen how we've handled the monumental task of staffing correctional healthcare workers. You know our team and recruiter community has the ability to tackle all sorts of hiring struggles.

Check out the Relode platform and see how we can start helping you build a great team!