The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of just about everyone in the world. But perhaps some of the most severely impacted members of the general public are healthcare workers. Covid-19 has been a whirlwind for many of these employees and has pushed them to their very limits.
News of healthcare workers reaching the brink is not only tragic but may have significant implications for those needing medical attention. Even those seeking care for something other than coronavirus are likely to be impacted. As many healthcare workers reach their breaking point, vacancies are piling upright as we need more medical experts.
Unfortunately, though the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue, serious shortages in the healthcare workforce are not new. In fact, many experts and leaders project that employment shortages are only going to become more severe in the coming years. This has prompted many leaders to start reconsidering the recruitment process at healthcare facilities altogether.
Dealing with a Shortage
It may come as somewhat of a surprise, but well before the Covid-19 pandemic, many hospitals were treading into dangerous waters. Projections estimated that many leading providers and support staff were reaching retirement age and likely to be leaving the healthcare facility in a few short years. In fact, according to 2016 census data, nearly 30% of doctors are over the age of 60.
This means that many will likely retire in the next handful of years, leaving a major gap in the healthcare system. A gap that doesn’t necessarily have a large cohort of young professionals waiting to step up. Even though large numbers of people apply for medical school every year, only a small percentage make the cut. With four years of med school and three additional years of residency, even if schools were capable of doubling the number of students accepted we wouldn’t see an influx of professionals for nearly a decade.
Of course, all of this is happening at the same time the country is seeing a record rise in the number of elderly Americans. Older people are more likely to have a need for the healthcare system for a variety of reasons, which ultimately means we are seeing an increasing demand for healthcare services at the same time we are seeing a decline in the number of professionals able to provide those services.
Enhancing the Recruiting Process
In order to address the issue, many healthcare leaders are striving to get out ahead of the problem. This means enhancing the recruiting process now and getting young professionals in place so they are ready to step up when the time comes. For many leaders, taking these steps requires significant thought into how the hospital will be organized into the future and the types of professionals and specialties that are likely to be needed.
Improving upon the recruiting process can mean a number of things. For instance, creating a clear job announcement and description and reaching out through a number of channels such as social media, online job boards, and med school outreach can help attract quality candidates. Taking the time to interview many people and complete background checks on top candidates can also ensure quality.
In many healthcare facilities, this process can be enhanced by investing in a solid business department. Having HR professionals and business associates that specialize in the healthcare industry are critical to making sound decisions on hiring. These professionals can also help with outreach and marketing of healthcare positions before they need to be filled.
Building a Workforce
Simply finding the right candidates is not the only aspect of improving recruitment in the healthcare industry. Rather, it should just be considered only the first step. Recruitment strategies are very important, but so is investing in current employees and helping to build up the folks that you already have in place.
Creating a positive work environment can be challenging, especially in the healthcare industry where many employees work long shifts under stressful conditions, but these conditions make the effort all the more important. Find ways to increase employee engagement through the quality of their work environment. These strategies can include things such as:
- Listening to employee concerns and responding accordingly
- Rewarding good performance with praise or prizes
- Focusing on building a strong team
- Creating an environment of respect
- Allowing for opportunities to make career advancements
Numerous healthcare workers have noted the difficulty of the work environment in many hospitals and clinics, and this likely isn’t only because of the difficulty of the work. Many healthcare facilities could greatly benefit from spending additional effort on increasing employee satisfaction as a means of improving the retainment of good employees.
The healthcare industry is changing in many ways. As older employees reach retirement age, finding and recruiting new employees that will contribute to a positive work environment is critical. Working in the healthcare industry is demanding at best and finding the right people for the job can be a challenge. However, it is an important aspect of addressing employment shortages in the healthcare industry nationally.