Recruiting for healthcare in the post-pandemic era: A guide for medical staffing agency
When the world went into a lockdown back in 2020, no one would have expected to see an incredible paradigm shift in the way organizations functioned. And while the rest of the working world came to terms with phenomena like remote working and remote hiring etc, there was one industry vertical that was in dire need of people in the field. This was a vertical that could only go remote to a certain extent. We are, of course, writing about the healthcare field.
The massive intake of patients during the pandemic has led to an steep increase in demand for healthcare providers and several healthcare institutions have had to be heavily dependent upon temporary or part time health care providers to ensure seamless operations. Sadly, it is not possible for healthcare institutions to continue this practice as a sustainable means of managing talent. Sooner, rather than later, healthcare institutions were forced to realign their hiring strategies and adapt to the changing healthcare hiring landscape. The new healthcare hiring strategies would, without a doubt, include the integration of automation and artificial intelligence solutions to ensure better hiring efficiency.
This comprehensive guide to healthcare recruiting in a post pandemic era covers how healthcare institutions can up their hiring game by using automation and artificial intelligence especially in a time when the demand for healthcare professionals is expected to rise by at least 25%.
Before we delve into strategies that will help with effective health care hiring, let’s understand what significant challenges have been observed in healthcare recruitment post pandemic.
Reliance on traditional process for recruiting for healthcare
Healthcare professionals are human and it is but natural for humans to make mistakes. That being said, a John Hopkins report from 2018 stated that an average of 250,000 Americans lose their lives to medical errors every year. This number has obviously increased dramatically in the last five years.
In order to reduce the risk of human error, healthcare institutions require stringent hiring and vetting processes. These processes are required to leave little room for error, pay a lot of attention to detail and help hire healthcare professionals with the necessary refined skill set. It goes without saying that such levels of hiring require conducting rigorous screening processes and detailed assessments from the very beginning.
Additionally, the healthcare sector, on the whole, can be quite daunting and it is not for everyone to handle. It is important that people applying to positions in healthcare be screened for their ability to handle high pressure environments, adapt and thrive in medical and healthcare work culture and have the right aptitude for a career in medical and health services. Such a screening is possible only with the right technology and that is where a healthcare recruiter comes into the picture.
High burnout rate
Medical and healthcare institutions have maintained a rather callous ‘do more with less’ attitude resulting in a severely negative impact on healthcare professionals, with a majority facing burnout.
Naturally, the burnout has resulted in a shortage of healthcare professionals, especially registered nurses. In fact, healthcare recruiting experts expect that the crisis of recruiting healthcare talent will worsen. The management of The Association of American Medical Colleges has estimated that by 2025, the United States will need anywhere between 61,700 and 94,700 physicians to tend to patients.
A recent study has revealed that over 50% of registered nurses in the United States are aged over 50 years while over 44% of physicians in the United States are aged over 55 years of age. Another USA labour market report by Mercer has revealed that by 2026, an estimated 23,000 primary care physicians will permanently leave the profession, leaving a vacuum of demand for primary care providers. Obviously, this workforce will be forced to retire in five or so years making healthcare recruiters go through the hiring cycle once again.
Suggested reading: Challenges and Solutions for Bulk Healthcare Hiring
Healthcare institutions have the power to reimagine the healthcare sector and resolve healthcare challenges with sustainable solutions.
How can healthcare recruitment experts realign their healthcare hiring strategies?
Here are 8 ways a healthcare facility can resolve its staffing woes.
Employing a healthcare recruitment agency
It is important that healthcare organizations focus on what’s important – providing quality healthcare. Their staffing woes can be easily outsourced to a healthcare recruiting agency. This is an important aspect of a good healthcare hiring strategy because staffing agencies can do what organizations won’t usually attempt.
Healthcare recruiters today tend to make use of artificial intelligence, data analysis and machine learning to sort through job applications, set up job interview rounds and keep candidates engaged. This helps boost the image of the medical or healthcare institution and gives candidates a positive hiring experience. Hiring recruiters can also give candidates better control and visibility into the screening process in a bid to maintain transparency. A transparent screening solution will allow applicants to check their status, complete assessments, and even sign documents electronically for faster onboarding, once selected.
Building a diverse workforce of different types of healthcare providers
Unlike traditional organizations where employees are highly likely to work as full time or part time or support staff, healthcare employees have options to choose and divide the amount of time and expertise they can commit to organizations. But this doesn’t put healthcare institutions at a disadvantage. On the contrary, this approach actually works great for healthcare institutions looking to build a diverse workforce for continuous and seamless operations. Let’s understand this approach briefly.
Essentially a healthcare institution is likely to employ full time healthcare providers. But it can also widen its options and start hiring talent who are ready to work part time on a shift basis. These employees are called the contingent workforce or float pools and can work as per a flexible time schedule. The advantage of building a full time as well as a contingent workforce is that healthcare institutions can call in extra resources in case of a surge in the number of patients. Experts recommend about 80% of full time staff, 5-10% of staff that can usually work overtime or cover extra shifts and another 5-10% of staff that works in a floating or contingent capacity. It is best to strike the right balance between full time and floating staff.
Diversity is not just limited to a health care facility’s workforce ratio. It also needs to address the problem of the country’s ageing workforce. To resolve this issue, recruiters need to look at creating sustainable talent pools for urgent hiring needs. Essentially, it is important for healthcare recruiters to not just pick up talent from teaching medical institutions. It will greatly help if recruiting organizations can actively partner with nurture programs to develop talent with hands-on experience. By designing and developing courses that offer incentives to enroll in nursing school and training programs that help the current workforce up-skill, recruitment organizations are not limiting themselves to finding talent, they are actually involved in creating and developing talent that is future ready.
Regularly adjust staff schedules and consider rotating floating healthcare provider positions
It is no doubt that healthcare providers, whether full time or floating, are overworked. While working overtime is a given in any job, especially in healthcare, it cannot be a phenomenon so regular that healthcare workers start to crack under stress. A great way to mitigate staff shortage will be to regularly adjust staffing schedules. Give healthcare workers a chance to rest up – at home and within the healthcare facility. It is also important to consistently rotate floating healthcare providers across different healthcare verticals, especially those that require patient care support,in order to ensure that a specific department is not overworked.
Anticipatory measures to avoid healthcare worker burnout
Exhaustion, unsafe and even unsanitary work conditions, unreasonably long work hours and a total disregard for their own health has resulted in a burnout, the likes of which we probably haven’t seen before. In its first ever Clinician of the Future global report, American publication Elsevier, has revealed that nearly 47% of the United States healthcare workforce does not intend to stay in their current jobs by 2025.
While worker burnout is not a medically recognized term, long work hours, multiple shifts and the pressure of working in a highly competitive environment, not to mention, the risk of contracting infections can lead to severe physical and mental exhaustion; often leading to breakdowns. An important factor adding to worker burnout is the current shortage in healthcare providers. By employing anticipatory measures including having floating healthcare staff on standby during the holiday season or during flu season, reducing shift times and increasing the number of shifts, giving employees opportunities to relieve stress by having a therapist for physical as well as mental wellness etc can significantly help reduce worker burnout.
Using automation and artificial intelligence to improve healthcare hiring efficiency
Recruitment tools that use AI or automation will likely help healthcare recruiters optimize their talent pipeline, reduce the time-to-fill, and improve the candidate experience. Additionally, AI recruitment tools can be used to tap into dormant talent. Experts reckon that by 2032, the United States is likely to face a shortage of over 100,000 healthcare professionals. If healthcare facilities use AI to reach out to passive health care professionals, they can build a network of reliable healthcare providers who can help reduce the shortage in the near future.
Automation and AI recruitment tools can also help recruiters reach pools of candidates at the top of the funnel. This can be done by creating keyword or search-friendly career pages, improving URLs and gaining backlinks from the right job listing sites. Additionally, repetitive and mundane tasks like sorting resumes, short list of and assessing candidates and communicating with potential candidates using automation and AI recruitment solutions like applicant tracking systems can really improve the degree of efficiency in a healthcare hiring system.
Thinking beyond the realm of the healthcare facility
While healthcare workers are expected to dedicate a majority of their time and expertise for supporting patient care, there can be circumstances that might not allow them to dedicate the required time and support. These circumstances might not even fall under healthcare facility responsibilities. For instance, a shuttle service for hospital employees working night shifts or ensuring that healthcare employees eat healthier meals and not just run-of-the-mill hot dogs and mashed potatoes during their shifts can do wonders to boost morale.
Employing telehealth consulting to reduce the burden on the healthcare facility
Travelling nurses became really popular in the years immediately after the pandemic. But apart from travelling nurses, remote healthcare consulting also became popular. By employing a telehealth consulting service, patients with minor ailments need not visit the healthcare facility but can consult with a healthcare provider on video calls and have their medication delivered to their homes. This can considerably reduce the burden on healthcare facilities.
Create a culture of empathy and openness
For a workplace to be considered healthy, community building must be at its heart. Hence, a healthcare organisation that puts the good of the larger community first, should do the same for its own people. This helps reinforce the belief that the work each person is doing is not just worthwhile, but also respected. To foster a stronger sense of community, it’s important to focus on a few key areas. Creating a positive and healthy workplace can be achieved by performing acts of kindness, increasing positive social interactions, and showing gratitude by acknowledging work and life successes. This will promote a welcoming atmosphere regardless of differences and will have systems in place for diversity and inclusion training, as well as a safe reporting mechanism for instances of discrimination without fear of retaliation.
Refining recruitment marketing and retention strategies
In a nutshell, recruitment marketing is the process of promoting the employer’s brand with the use of marketing methodologies throughout the recruitment life cycle to attract, engage and nurture relationships with qualified talent. With all the above recruiting strategies aligning together, a healthcare facility’s recruitment marketing strategies will tend to be cutting edge and are likely to attract top talent.
The Covid 19 pandemic did not tell healthcare recruiters anything they did not already know. Healthcare workers have always been overworked, the pandemic just made things worse. Despite its well known challenges, the healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors all over the globe. The covid era, although exhausting, did manage to put a lot of these challenges into perspective for recruiting for healthcare. That’s why healthcare recruiting experts have started to realign their hiring strategies. But it shouldn’t stop at redesigning hiring strategies, it also needs to expand into training, nurturing and retaining healthcare providers.
If you are with a medical staffing agency, looking to revamp their recruiting process, adopting an AI recruiting tool, like Arya by Leoforce, can be incredibly efficient and economical. Schedule a demo today to see how it can supercharge recruiting for healthcare.