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Recruiting and Retaining Top Healthcare Talent

Finding and keeping the right professionals through innovative education and professional development programs

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Understaffing has been a nearly constant battle for the healthcare industry. Additionally, since high turnover rates and patient satisfaction will never not be a concern for healthcare providers, it's more imperative than ever that healthcare organizations take the necessary steps to recruit, retain, and manage their top talent.

So, how can this be achieved?

According to the examples set by University of Minnesota Physicians, Lean Human Capital and multiple "Best Place to Work" organizations, the solution has everything to do with educating your healthcare employees, encouraging their successful advancement within your company, implementing lean recruiting techniques and not underestimating the power of a good human resources team.

Encouraging a Culture of Learning
University of Minnesota Physicians (UMPhysicians) is just one of the many healthcare organizations that have managed to successfully reduce their employee turnover rate while simultaneously boosting their patient satisfaction, and they did it all by reassessing their workplace culture and then adjusting it accordingly.

Though UMPhysicians' consistent quality of cutting-edge care has remained unquestionable throughout the years, their employee training had become complacent. Their investment in their employees' professional advancement had been sorely lacking as well, which lead to high turnover rates and mismatched internal promotions to management. interview handshake

Fortunately, this was turned around when Michelle Gross, manager of staff training and development, joined the UMPhysicians' team. Gross implemented a blended-learning approach of in-person orientations, position-specific eLearning courses, tests and employee satisfaction surveys with excellent results. She also utilized three specific management tracks to ensure that new managers are actually prepared and well-suited for their promotions rather than just being given the reigns to their new position based solely on job performance.

Now, UMPhysicians' turnover rate has dropped from 22% to 14%, and their patient satisfaction has jumped from 52% to 97%.

Rethink Recruiting
In a HealthcareSource blog post, "How Lean Recruiting Can Help Solve the Nursing Shortage" Brian Brazda of Lean Human Capital and The Recruiter Academy addressed the importance of lean recruiting (e.g., using lean principles, Six Sigma, and/or Theory of Constraints to develop a more efficient recruiting process) in healthcare.

According to Brazda and his colleagues, lean recruiting allows your organization to simplify the recruiting process while simultaneously cutting costs. Additionally, when you implement lean recruiting techniques you'll find your turnover rate decreases while both the retention and management of your top talent become easier as you'll be focused on hiring the right person for the job rather than just filling open positions as quickly as possible.

Promote Continued Education
To retain and properly manage top talent, you're going to have to value and promote their continued education.

One way your organization can do this is by implementing a learning management system and offering your employees access to courses that qualify for continuing education credits.

For example, research has shown that nurses who have obtained a BSN education through the tuition assistance, professional development opportunities, and moral support of their employer are more loyal employees. These nurses have also reported less job stress, higher job satisfaction, and their length of service is twice as long as those nurses who don't obtain a BSN education via their employer's assistance.

Consider the approach of UnityPoint Health in Iowa. In addition to offering on-campus, continuing education courses for their nurses through their LMS, UnityPoint has partnered with a local nursing school. They also offer tuition assistance of up to $3,000 to those nurses interested in bridging from ADN to BSN.  

Don't Underestimate Your HR Team
At facilities such as Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC), Berkshire Health Systems and Beaumont Health System, the HR department plays a crucial role in promoting and supporting a company culture conducive to recruiting, retaining, and managing top talent.

SEE ALSO: Earn CE: Nurse Leadership & Staff Satisfaction

Furthermore, relationships among employees, management, and HR are cultivated in a way that encourages open communication and an overall approval of how new employees are brought on board. These organizations provide online applications so prospective employees can stay informed of their application's progress via online communications.

They utilize behavioral assessments to ensure they're hiring for fit instead of justfilling open spots, and at SOMC specifically, the best of existing employees are chosen to form peer interviewing teams. This allows current employees to play a role in deciding whether a new hire is the right fit for an open position, or whether they would prefer to temporarily work short until a more appropriate candidate applies.

Once new hires have been recruited, these organizations focus on retention and management of their top nursing talent with goal setting, continued education, onsite training, feedback, eLearning, tuition assistance, employee rounding and ample recognition of good work. Consider applying these best practices to your own organization's company culture, and chances are, you'll experience similar success.

Supporting Top Talent
Nurses and other clinicians are the backbone of the healthcare industry, and the last thing your organization needs is to lose their top talent due to mismanagement, high turnover rates, or lack of education.

Utilize the educational and professional development programs available to you, and follow the example of organizations that are making significantly positive strides in the recruitment, retention, and management of their top talent.

Change is never easy, but the only way to improve your organization is by valuing, supporting, and further educating its top assets.   

Ellen Beal is the HealthcareSource eLearning Library Manager. She can be reached at

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