Rebecca Love is a matchmaker — not in the romance department, but in a field that can be just as fraught with emotion.
Love runs the startup website HireNurses.com, which provides a platform to connect nurses to families who need home care for an aging parent, disabled spouse, or sick child, and to health care providers such as hospitals or home-care agencies that need nursing help. Since she launched the site a year ago, the number of nurses, nursing assistants, and student nurses participating has grown to 5,000 from 100.
“I thought to myself,” said Love, a registered nurse who runs the site out of her Charlestown home, “there has to be a place that matches people with nurses so that we can help people stay at home, age in place, die in place.”
Love, who teaches nursing at Bunker Hill Community College, hatched the idea for HireNurses.com in 2013 after listening to her students lament how hard it was to find the right job. When they applied through job sites, she said, they “would never hear anything. It was like they were lost in a machine.”
At the same time, Love was working with hospice patients and was struck by the plight of one family that had to place a loved one in an institution because they could not find suitable people to provide round-the-clock care.
“There’s an emotional side to hiring somebody who is going to care for your loved one, somebody who’s going to fit in with your family,” said Love, 36, the mother of three young children.
HireNurses.com charges families $40 a month to post openings and hospitals, agencies, and other businesses $149. The site, which Love estimates has matched at least 100 nurses with families and other employers, now lists about 500 jobs.
Nurses use the service for free. They generally post photos, qualifications, notes about why they went into nursing, and pay and schedule preferences. Interested employers can e-mail through the website for details, such as resumes, references, and license numbers.
Employers are free to contact nurses through profiles, but they still must post a job. This is part of what sets HireNurses.com apart from other sites, Love said. Employers, whether a family or a hospital, must have openings and not just be banking resumes. All job candidates must have medical experience and be actively seeking work.
Once the connection is made, it’s up to the parties to work out the job details. Love and a crew of colleagues — unpaid for now — review nurses’ submissions to make sure they’re complete, but do not vet the information. Employers have the option of paying HireNurses.com to do the recruiting.
Since its role usually ends at connecting employer to candidate, HireNurses.com does not incur the overhead costs of an employment agency that reviews resumes, conducts interviews, checks references, and winnows fields of candidates. She estimated employers save 30 to 50 percent over the cost of hiring through an agency.
Nurses, in turn, can set the employment terms at the outset, as opposed to being bound by, say, a hospital’s pay scale and schedules.
Sandra Espinosa of Revere was able to arrange to bring along her then 9-year-old son on occasion while caring for an elderly woman. Espinosa, who at the time was studying to be a registered nurse at Bunker Hill (but was not one of Love’s students), stayed with the woman and took her on errands, such as shopping trips and doctors’ appointments. She said she earned substantially more than she had working at a hospital as a certified nursing assistant, which typically pays $10 to $15 an hour, while finding it more rewarding to focus on just one person.
Karen O’Donnell, a registered nurse who founded Caring Nursing Staffing Agency in New Boston, N.H., is teaming up with Love for a job fair in Manchester, N.H., on Friday.
For potential employers like herself, O’Donnell said, the biggest attraction [of HireNurses.com] is a more personalized experience, being able to interact with the nurses on the site.”
That was the experience of Lori Hooper of North Andover as she sought afternoon care for her 9-year-old disabled daughter. Candidates she found through other sites “had great resumes, but didn’t have the personal skills,” said Hooper, who hired a student nurse through HireNurses.com.
Hooper said her daughter “took to her right away,” as did her other two children, ages 4 and 14.
Love’s 62-year-old mother, Patricia Love of Michigan, also a nurse, contributed her retirement savings toward the website’s $60,000 startup cost. After a year of test driving and promoting the site, HireNurses.com began to take off this past summer with 400 to 500 nurses signing up each month. Love said she expects the startup’s operations to break even by the end of the year.
“We believed that we could do better than what was currently out there,” the younger Love said.
Steve Maas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.