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Recruiting is challenging in any industry, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find an industry where it’s more strenuous than in healthcare. The stakes are high and healthcare facilities can’t afford to onboard talent that doesn’t fit their specific needs.

The major recruiting challenges facing healthcare

Healthcare organizations don’t have the luxury of occasionally making the wrong hire. On top of the high cost of onboarding a new hire, there are also legal risks associated with hiring an individual who purposefully or inadvertently breaks protocol, violates HIPPA rules, or harms patients.

Unfortunately, these same healthcare organizations face a number of industry-specific challenges when it comes to the recruitment process.

1. Scarcity of qualified employees

This is arguably the most pressing issue facing healthcare in regards to recruiting. The population is ageing and the numbers of physicians and nurses are dwindling. This obviously puts all of the negotiating power into the hands of candidates and puts healthcare organizations in a tough spot.

This survey from Health Careers Network says: “Demand for healthcare services is predicted to swell in the next ten years, driven by an aging baby boomer population and increased access to healthcare for all Americans through the Affordable Care Act. However, the supply of healthcare providers will simultaneously decrease, with shortages of qualified physicians and nurses predicted in the next ten years.”

The solution is for hospitals and healthcare organizations to revamp their approach to hiring and create enticing benefits packages that make physicians and nurses want to work for them. Here is an example of a good benefits package from Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago. Offering perks like these can help offset the scarcity of qualified employees by making individual positions more attractive.

2. Dilemma between education and experience

There will always be a dilemma between education and experience in the medical field. Do you take the candidate who just recently graduated and only has one year of experience, but has a master’s degree from the number one ranked program in the country? Or do you take the candidate who has a degree from a low ranking institution, but has 12 years of experience?

Issues like these can bog down the recruitment process and muddy the waters, so to speak. The key is to create a balance in your organization. You want a healthy mixture of young, academically inclined employees, as well as those with on-the- job experience.

3. Race for new grads

Hiring recent grads is great for many healthcare providers because it’s cost-effective and invigorating. However, it’s not always easy to recruit new graduates who tend to get gobbled up pretty quickly.

“We graduated 28 or 29 DPT [doctor of physical therapy] students in 2015, and all who passed the licensing exam are now employed,” says Doreen Stiskal, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Seton Hall University. “Many choose to work with institutions, the healthcare providers where they have done their internships.”

As Stiskal suggests, the key is to forge partnerships with local universities and programs, so that you’re reaching students before they graduate. This is the only way to remain competitive.

4. Baby boomer retirement numbers

Baby Boomers are starting to leave the workforce – and they’re retiring by the masses. By some estimates, 10,000 of them retire each day. That obviously has a huge impact on healthcare organizations who are employing a large number of employees in their sixties.

While there’s no way to prevent boomers from retiring, healthcare organizations should begin developing proactive recruitment strategies that prepare for their departures. This will ease the burden associated with having to continually hire new individuals to fill vacant positions that are left behind by senior level employees.

Looking towards the future

As things currently stand, there’s a lot of friction in healthcare recruiting. Thankfully, it won’t remain that way. If history tells us anything, it’s that the industry changes every few years and there will always be a supply and demand of skilled professionals.

From a recruiting perspective, the key is to recognize where we are on that supply and demand pendulum and implement the right tactics at the appropriate times.

About the author: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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