Sarah Grant started her business to tackle the shortage of healthcare professionals. She talks to BQ about the inspiration behind the business, and why she has entered this year's If We Can You Can Challenge.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I worked full time as management consultant for a large global technology company. I predominantly worked in change management positions, focusing on culture change, employee experience and training.
What inspired you to set up your business?
I have a friend who worked in medical staffing for a local hospital at the time. She talked of the incredible shortage of qualified clinical staff available to the hospital, and the necessity to recruit abroad to make up the shortfall. Yet the international recruitment process often seemed very inefficient – involving expensive, in-person recruitment trips which often resulted in few new recruits. There were significant delays in arrival times, and workforce planning was challenging.
With my background working for a tech company, I saw an opportunity to use advances in digital technology to improve this process. Therefore, our mission at My Healthcare Recruit became about facilitating quality interactions between clinicians and hiring managers at the click of a button. We want to evolve the healthcare hiring process so that we place quality international candidates in roles that are hard to fill domestically, at speed, at an affordable cost, and with confidence.
What makes this business different?
We are using technology to proactively tackle international clinical recruitment at its core, rather than being reactive to shortages.
To understand the approach we are taking, it is important to be aware of the key challenges that cause delays and inefficiencies in the existing recruitment process for this workforce. Namely:
We have put various (people and technology) processes in place to address these issues at their foundation.
In relation to the English Language test, we have developed a comprehensive English Language programme and an English Language Bootcamp – an intensive, immersive two-month English Language “experiential” course to help nurses get up to speed in a faster time-frame. This approach means we have a reliable pipeline of English Language passed candidates and can offer English Language passed candidates to our clients. This is unusual and means we can offer clients reliable arrival timescales for their nurses to help with their workforce planning.
In terms of the in-person interviews, we use specialist video interviewing software to help connect employers to candidates at the click of a button.
We have also developed a unique approach to the OSCE test. We have partnered with an OSCE training provider who has recently developed an online training course so applicants can start preparing for this test before they have arrived in the UK. This is supplemented by an in-person clinical skills training course when they commence their post in the UK.
What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?
The business problem I am solving with my business – a shortage of nurses – is unlikely to go away any time soon. Current estimates of nursing vacancies in the UK are 40,000+.
I think there is huge potential to use technology to scale the business to fill a much greater proportion of these vacancies in the future.
On this basis I am keen to interact with the wider business community that the If we can you can challenge team is a part of, so that I have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from experienced business mentors, as well as potentially gain access to new markets that I hadn’t considered before.
Where do you see your business in three years’ time?
In three years, I believe I will have the experience and track record to establish myself as one of the market leaders in international recruitment. However I think there is still ample opportunity to improve my operations.
For example I want to use newer technologies to help scale my operations and provide improved outcomes for international nurse success rates. For example, I think there is potential to use augmented or virtual reality to deliver an improved training experience. Equally by finding the right platform to digitise our language bootcamp I think there is scope to roll-out our English Language programme to countries other than the Philippines (currently my main market). This is something I am currently speaking to digital training providers about.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
It has been incredibly rewarding seeing my ideas come to reality. Seeing nurses excited about their move to the UK and employers filling their hard-to-fill vacancies has been wonderful – knowing I’ve played a key role in impacting on others’ journeys. I’m helping nurses achieve an incredible life experience, and that in turn impacts on hundreds of patients each day, whilst also saving organisations thousands of pounds on agency fees.
I’ve also been proud to see how the business has evolved over time. Initially the main focus of the business was the video interviewing technology, but as I became more familiar with my target audience I have built on the organisational model that includes the Language Bootcamp and the OSCE training. By constantly innovating I have been able to take advantage of other opportunities and address clients’ key issues.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The international recruitment market is not one that moves quickly – there is considerable regulation and bureaucracy involved from the Nursing & Midwifery Council and UKVI so results haven’t been immediate.
I think like many new businesses it has also taken me a while to build my credibility in the market. However, I have worked hard and now have an NHS contract and a large contract with a private healthcare provider in the final stages. I am also applying to be on a government framework that will boost my credibility further with the NHS.
Who/what gave you support or advice?
I have been lucky enough to benefit from a significant amount of guidance since I started the business.
Initially I benefited from guidance from NHS Innovation North who helped advise and connect me to various clinical bodies. Through this organisation I also received (and continue to receive) support and guidance from RTC: I attended a Business Bootcamp with them and also received some grant funding for my website.
I have also received support from PNE including being involved in a Business Bootcamp and benefiting from ongoing mentorship support from Lee Longstaff. Through PNE I was also lucky enough to be awarded a Sustainability Award for my business which has gone towards achieving Cyber Security Certification (a requirement to be granted access onto the CCS
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?
My advice would be:
Deadline for entries is 16th October 2018, to be in with a chance of winning, go to www.ifwecanyoucan.co.uk
Tickets are now online for our ‘Ones to Watch’ live final on 26th October at Teesside University, click here to regsiter.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement