In brief

  • 120 behavioral health nurses needed to be hired
  • 12-month project timeline from kickoff to fully staffed
  • 64% of interviews led to an offer
  • Average 17 days to fill
  • 125 behavioral health nurses hired five months earlier than project end date


UTHealth Houston is a comprehensive academic health university in Texas with a reputation for leading innovation, scientific discovery, and excellence in patient care.

The challenge
In 2022, UTHealth Houston received state funding to open a new academic psychiatric hospital in partnership with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Medical Center. The 253,000-square-foot facility and nearby UTHealth Houston Harris County Psychiatric Center would combine to form the UTHealth Houston Behavioral Science Campus, becoming the largest of its kind in the U.S.

The expansion was set to add 264 inpatient beds to UTHealth Houston’s capacity, for a total of 538. The additional beds would allow UTHealth Houston to provide care and services to more patients with serious mental illness. The facility serves multiple patient populations, including incarcerated inmates, with medication management, therapy, and skills training.

Adequately staffing the new wing required hiring a large volume of behavioral health nurses by the end of 2023. UTHealth Houston’s internal talent acquisition team needed support, so they selected Cielo as a trusted Recruitment Process Outsourcing partner. With a reputation as a leader in healthcare and specific knowledge of behavioral health and nursing, the Cielo team provided the right expertise.

Accounting for no-starts and assuming an attrition rate of 25-30%, Cielo and UTHealth aimed to hire 150 behavioral health nurses over a one-year period.

The solution
To meet the target, Cielo set an aggressive goal of hiring 12 behavioral health nurses per month. The team worked in tandem with UTHealth Houston leadership, leaning into Cielo’s industry knowledge, best practices, and strategic solutions.

Cielo crafted a recruitment marketing strategy using UTHealth Houston’s unique employee value proposition (EVP) and well-known brand to attract candidates.

  • Cielo highlighted the hospital’s strong culture and top employer status – Forbes ranked UTHealth Houston as the number two employer in Texas in 2022.
  • Campaigns featured UTHealth Houston’s outstanding benefit packages, including 100% paid medical premiums on employee-only plans and longevity pay.
  • Nurses were enticed by UTHealth Houston’s growth pathways that provide them opportunities to develop and achieve new heights in their careers.

The Cielo team also created hyper-targeted campaigns for in-state nurses and out-of-state relocation candidates. These efforts drew more than 300 qualified applicants, and of the applicants interviewed, 64% were extended an offer.

A collaborative effort leveraging Cielo’s key differentiators and proprietary technology delivered notable results:

  • Cielo dedicated resources to strategic lead generation that connected recruiters with well-vetted candidates.
  • Cielo recruiters’ specific knowledge in the behavioral health space lent sophistication to their communication with leads and maximized candidate engagement.
  • The Cielo team leveraged its CRM technology, Cielo TalentCloud, to bring people, process and technology together for greater efficiency and a personalized candidate experience.
  • Cielo TalentCloud’s reporting analytics kept a pulse on market trends and delivered insights to inform decision-making.

These strategies and tools enabled rapid responses to emerging challenges and kept the team on pace with the hiring timeline – achieving an average time to fill of 17 days.

The results
Cielo exceeded UTHealth Houston’s expectations by delivering 125 hires five months earlier than the projected project end date. With fewer no-starts and significantly less attrition (15%) than anticipated, the organization was able to adjust its original hiring goal from 150 to 120 nurses. The Cielo team was on track to hit the new target five months ahead of schedule, enabling them to move into a maintenance mode of five hires per month for the remainder of the project.

“What we appreciated most about our partnership was how Cielo worked with our internal team, flexing and adapting in response to our needs,” said Daniel Doyle, UTHealth Houston’s Chief Operating Officer.

Beth Maree, UTHealth Houston’s Chief Nursing Officer, said: “The challenge of supply vs our demand for specialty nurses to support service growth timelines required focused efforts from internal champions and Cielo working in partnership. Collaborative development of structured processes and continuous monitoring at multiple levels of leadership supported achievement of stretch recruitment goals.”

Cielo’s RPO solutions help you recruit and manage permanent and contingent resources while delivering a seamless experience for candidates and hiring managers. Contact us today to learn more about our services or speak with one of our talent experts.


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